Katatonia, On Thorns I Lay @ Gagarin 205

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That show had a special meaning for me and I don’t know if anyone else had the same thing in mind. Against the constant terror spread by the media, against the stupidity of the people who empty the shelves of super markets, against the fear as if the black plague suddenly fell upon us, a full venue for the sake of the mighty Katatonia was the perfect antidote for the occasion.

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With a very small ten-minute delay, On Thorns I Lay hit the stage, having also two nice banners with them. In their two latest albums (“Aegean Sorrow” and “Threnos”) they have returned to their original sound and their set was based on them. Doom/death metal that is heavily inspired by the early Katatonia and of course the well-known English triad. With excellent sound they gave a very good performance that earned the applause of the fans who kept entering the venue. Doom tempos, melancholic melodies, keyboards cleverly placed when necessary and deep guttural vocals kept us company for almost forty minutes. The only negative I found was that their singer Stefanos was talking really quick between the songs and I had a hard time understanding him. Nevertheless, an ideal opener before the main course.

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Setlist: The Song Of Sirens, Erevos, Erinyes, Misos, Cosmic Silence, Aegean Sorrow

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A few moments before the appearance of the Swedes, Gagarin was almost full in the ground floor and the opener “Forsaker” fired up the audience. The sound had some issues at first, but they didn’t last long and it was excellent until the end. The Press Kit gave us a hint for what it was about to happen and Katatonia confirmed it by telling us that they would perform “Night Is The New Day” in its entirety, ten…plus one years after its release, as this tour begun last year. Something that was maybe a disappointment for those who have the bad habit of checking the setlist before going to a show, as it was quite different from the one that they played in Turkey some weeks before. Of course, there was a small dent during certain songs because not all of them are ideal for live shows. Still, there were excellent moments like “The Longest Year”, “Deliberation”, “Nephilim” (when Jonas Renske asked us if we are…satanists) and the magical “Departer” with guitarist Roger Öjersson doing a great job by taking over part of the vocals.

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After a small break, they came back for the rest of the set. Many voices accompanied them, as they played iconic songs. The gripping “Lethean” and “Evidence”, the hymns “My Twin” and “July” and the classic “Ghost Of The Sun” are some examples that made the night even greater. What if they chose to play material only from 2003 and on? Katatonia aren’t one of these bands that you will go to a show of them and you will know from the start what you will listen to. They were and will never be predictable, as they always have some surprises hidden. With so many amazing songs, how couldn’t they? The closure with the unexpected (for me) cover of “Night Comes Down” by Judas Priest (bonus track in the Japanese version of “The Fall Of Hearts”) was exceptional, as it seemed like they composed it themselves and the atmosphere created was pure magic.

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Setlist: Forsaker, The Longest Year, Idle Blood, Onward Into Battle, Liberation, The Promise Of Deceit, Nephilim, New Night, Inheritance, Day And Then The Shade, Departer, Lethean, Deliberation, Serein, My Twin, Evidence, Old Heart Falls, Ghost Of The Sun, Soil’s Song, July, Night Comes Down (Judas Priest)

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In conclusion, another majestic show of the Swedes in our country came to an end. Flawless performance and great mood from the band, even if Renske told us that we can’t be…very happy, because this is a Katatonia show. Probably they brought the temporary rain with their dark melodies. When they will visit us again, we’ll be there.

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George Terzakis

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Photos: Afroditi Zagana

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