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Rain Without End (1997)
 

With the break-up of Katatonia, following the release of For Funerals to Come, the members went their separate ways for a short time. It was during this period, in 1995, that Jonas Renske joined forces with Fredrik Norrman to create October Tide. This project was very similar to Katatonia, featuring a melodic death/doom style, even surpassing that band's most recent E.P. in terms of quality. Though it was recorded in 1995, Rain Without End was only finally released in 1997.

Musically, the material is fairly similar to the direction that Katatonia had embarked upon before their untimely demise. Much like For Funerals to Come, there are some lighter passages that don't really fit in with the overall atmosphere of bleak misery and serve to soften the blow a bit. A song like "All Painted Cold" is not enough of a dirge and contains too much fluff, for example. This is only worsened by the light, flowery, saccharine production job of Dan Swanö. That said, the bulk of the music is quite strong and still manages to convey a sombre feeling, despite these shortcomings. The slower riffs on songs like "Ephemeral" and "Blue Gallery", as well as the tormented roar of the vocals, do well to bring some measure of darkness to this affair. By far, the best songs on the album are "12 Days of Rain" and the immensely depressive "Infinite Submission", which almost make the listener choke on the overwhelming melancholy. This album has the distinction of featuring the final harsh vocal performance of Jonas Renkse, as he had tortured his throat beyond repair during the recording sessions.  

October Tide's debut album is very solid and it's a shame that this is not more well-known. In a sense, what one finds on Rain Without End is a more coherent version of what Katatonia should have been, particularly as it relates to the more focused songwriting. While my preference is for the slower doom riffs, even the more melodic bits and acoustic passages work well within this context, and one can tell that the songs were well-crafted. There are no 14-minute tracks that overstay their welcome, as on Dance of December Souls and there is enough variation within each composition to keep things from becoming too monotonous. The only real complaint is the rotten production, but the strength of the material manages to overcome Swanö's idiocy. This is nearly impossible to find, without paying a small fortune, as it has been long out of print. If you see it somewhere, do yourself a favor and pick it up. Fans of old Katatonia, and death/doom in general, will not be disappointed.
 
(28 Apr. 2008)

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