Cathouse 12/12/12

This evening of dark and melancholic music is opened by U.S. post-rockers Junius, who fill the Cathouse with their many layered soundscapes. They sound quite interesting, with almost Drone-Doom noisiness and Post-Rock mellowness, but after a few songs this combination turns out to be fairly dull and tiring. The sound makes it impossible to distinguish between instruments or hear the vocals properly. For these guys that might be purposeful, but second support act Alcest (France) suffer massively under these sound conditions. Their ambient-post-black metal is pretty much mutilated beyond any point of resemblance to what it is supposed to sound like. The bits of the songs you can actually make out sound very promising, which makes the blatant incompetence of the sound-engineer all the more frustrating.

After this sound disaster my hopes are not very high for the Katatonia set, but my worries are proven unsubstantiated as soon as the Swedes enter the stage. Singer Jonas Renske can be heard (unlike Alcest’s) and is on pretty decent form, as are the rest of the band. Both guitarists show off their insane skills but keep their playing always to the profit of the band, without drifting off into wanky self-adulation. Songs from their 2006 album The Great Cold Distance, such as second
song ‘Deliberation’, cause particularly fantastic crowd responses. A guy behind me bellows every single word, from pretty much every single song, which makes it somewhat difficult to immerse myself properly into the heart-soothingly  melodramatic music, but just watching the drummer and the guitarists work their instruments puts me in a trance. Besides, with some of the choruses I cannot help but shout along as well, due to the amazing hook lines.

The set list offers a decent round-up of Katatonia’s back-catalogue, with a fair number of new songs to promote the new record Dead End Kings. Whatever the song, the audience loves it and at the end Katatonia are hailed for minutes after the last encore. People hand them a Scottish flag and the band delays the moment they leave the stage tonight for as long as possible.

[Ansgar Hastenpflug]

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