City Burials

City Burials

“This band has been going for a very long time,” Katatonia vocalist Jonas Renske tells Apple Music. In fact, Sweden’s reigning kings of melancholy have been at it for nearly 30 years, a timespan that led the Stockholm-based group to go on hiatus after the touring cycle for 2016’s The Fall of Hearts. “We never really had a proper break before,” Renske explains. “We wanted to get some perspective and see if the band is really what we want to do. It turns out we all missed it very much.” In his downtime, Renske wrote the bulk of the music and all of the lyrics for Katatonia’s 11th album, City Burials. “It’s a pretty lonely job to write music,” he says. “The whole creative process can be very tedious—if you’re struggling with something, it takes forever if you’re just by yourself. But of course it’s very rewarding when it’s done.” Below, Renske guides us through the many rewards of City Burials. Heart Set to Divide “To me, it's a pretty epic track. I think it sort of starts where the previous album left off, because it's very adventurous and there's a lot of things going on—a lot of layers. And it's kind of long, but it still has some kind of heaviness to it. It sets the tone and the standard, pretty much. It’s hard to explain the lyrics, but it’s about changing your mind and doing something that maybe you didn’t expect yourself to do—maybe because there’s something difficult about it.” Behind the Blood “This song is a little bit different for Katatonia. When we did our last tour, we ended the set every night playing a Judas Priest cover—‘Night Comes Down’ from Defenders of the Faith. I think it had something to do with why I started writing ‘Behind the Blood,’ because it definitely brought me back to the music I grew up listening to. I just had this idea that I wanted to try and write a song like that for Katatonia, but in our style. Lyrically, it’s not the usual gloomy atmosphere because the song is more uptempo, so it ended up being about drinking—but in an abstract way, of course. We can’t wait to play it live.” Lacquer “We had already started the recording of this album—we were doing the drums—and I felt that maybe we should have one more song to record, maybe to become a B-side or something. So I started working on this song, and by the end of the drum recording, the whole song was finished. But we couldn’t put any real drums on it by that time, so we kept it electronic. And then we decided it should be on the album. It’s very atmospheric, and it’s one of my favorite performances for myself as a singer.” Rein “This is one of my favorite songs on the record. It’s kind of a heavier track, and it also has a special style or feeling to it that was inspired by the band 16 Horsepower. They’ve been one of my favorite bands for a very long time, and I wanted to do something just a little bit in that style, but of course in a more metal way for Katatonia. So it has this bottleneck guitar that’s going on in the verses, and with a little bit of a country twang to it, I think. We called it the ‘cowboy track’ when we worked on it.” The Winter of Our Passing “It’s one of the earlier songs I wrote for the album. It’s kind of like older Katatonia—not way back, but maybe 10 or 15 years back—mixed up with some electronic stuff. I think it portrays a lot of emotion, and it has a chorus that you could sing along to, probably. This is also one of the songs we really want to try onstage. It’s very short and compact, and I think it would do very well live. It’s going to be the third single off the album. It’s a bit of a ‘hit’ song, I would say.” Vanishers “This song is very electronic, and it’s kind of a calm song, very atmospheric. I was playing the music for [guitarist] Anders [Nyström] and he said it sounds like there’s a lot of space for something different to happen here, so he came up with the idea that we should ask Anni [Bernhard] from Full of Keys to be on it. She’s been a favorite singer of me and Anders for some years now. So we sent her my demo and she was straight into the idea of doing it. She totally got the vibe of the song instantly, and I think the final result is perfect.” City Glaciers “This song is probably the first song I started writing after the release of the previous album, so it has a little bit of that style. It’s a little bit more progressive, maybe. Like the opening track, it’s kind of an adventurous song with a lot of layers of guitars and keyboards and vocals. Lyrically, it’s about being in a relationship or friendship for a long time and maybe you don’t see a reason to go on—you’re fed up with someone, basically. But you also know subconsciously that things will eventually change for the better. And the song is just about that wait, I would say.” Flicker “Another one that’s a bit more uptempo, especially in the choruses. They’re very classic Katatonia, I think. There’s some electronic elements as well. Lyrically, it’s about trying to break free from something. And it has a few moments of magic guitar playing by Roger [Öjersson].” Lachesis “On our previous album we have a song called ‘Decima,’ which is about one of the Fates from Roman mythology—a woman that is measuring the thread of life. There were three sisters in the mythology that were basically deciding when people were going to die. It turns out that in Greek mythology there is an equivalent, and that is Lachesis. I wanted to have a connection between the two albums, so once again we have the theme of life and death. We all have a measured thread of life. We don’t know exactly when it’s going to be cut off.” Neon Epitaph “It’s one of the last songs I wrote for the album. I think it was actually finished just before entering the studio. It’s not the easiest song to play on drums, I think, so the drummer had a lot of stuff to learn for this—but he definitely nailed it. Lyrically it deals with becoming a parent, which makes you also reflect on your own personality when you have someone that’s going to walk in your footsteps pretty much through their whole life. It was written because I had my third son a year and a half ago, and it’s kind of a beautiful little theme to write about, I think.” Untrodden “As with ‘Neon Epitaph,’ this song has these light and shade moments. Lyrically, it’s a little bit about wondering what’s in the afterlife—the people we might have known that are already there…will they wait for us? Is there something that still connects us when we go there? That kind of stuff. There’s also a guitar solo by Roger which I think is one of the best guitar solos I’ve ever heard—and I would say that even if it was not in Katatonia. It’s a great closing song for an album like City Burials.” Fighters “This is a digital bonus song that’s not on the album. It’s a cover track by a short-lived Swedish metal band that was active in the beginning of the 2000s called Enter the Hunt. Their singer is Krister Linder, who was doing some guest vocals for us on our album Night Is the New Day—on the song ‘Departer.’ Enter the Hunt only did one album and an EP, I think. The song ‘Fighters’ was only released digitally, so it’s not very well-known. But me and Anders thought that song was so good and we felt a bit sorry for them because they split up before anything could happen with it. So we decided to cover it to try and get it further up into the world.”

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