The Fall of Hearts
The Fall of Hearts is the tenth studio album by Swedish metal band Katatonia.
It was released on May 20, 2016. The album, mostly written and produced by founding members Jonas Renkse and Anders Nyström, was the first to also feature new members Daniel Moilanen and Roger Öjersson. The album moved in a more progressive rock direction than prior albums, and was generally well received by critics. Two singles were released in promotion of the album, “Old Heart Falls“, and “Serein“.
The album is their first in four years, after their 2012 album Dead End Kings. In between albums, the band went through two lineup changes, making the album their first to feature new drummer, Daniel Moilanen and new guitarist, Roger Öjersson. Moilanen replaced the band’s prior drummer of fifteen years Daniel Liljekvist, who left in 2014 to focus on family and pursue a more conventional career outside of music. The band mutually decided to part ways with guitarist Per Erikkson, prior guitarist of four years, in 2014 as well; his move to Barcelona complicated the band’s recording and touring schedule.
Despite lineup changes, the album was still primarily written by founding members Jonas Renkse and Anders Nyström. The two wrote in isolation from one another, only sharing what they felt were their better ideas, and then presenting the ideas they both agreed upon to the rest of the band members if they felt it was good enough to build an entire song around. Renkse stated that no boundaries were put on ideas for arranging the album, leading them to be more adventurous in the creation process, actively trying to break away from the formula of their prior few albums. The band didn’t desire to “reinvent the wheel, but rather, “break out a little bit from that old frame and do something a little bit different.
The inclusion of the technically proficient guitar playing of Öjersson led to the inclusion of more guitar solos on the album, while Moilanen’s style of drumming moved the album’s sound further into progressive territory. The album had actually been completely recorded prior to Ojerson joining the band, but the band went back and added his guitar solo’s over the finished work, wanting him to be able to “leave his mark” on the album. Conversely, Moilanen had joined earlier, and had a larger role in shaping the album’s content, with Renkse and Nystrom frequently discussing ideas with him.
Separately, the success of Dethroned and Uncrowned, the band’s acoustic/ambient reworking of their prior album, Dead End Kings, lead the band to feel more comfortable with adding more diverse elements to the album as well.
Sessions went through defined writing, pre-production, demoing, and final recording phases, though members were free to move back through the phases if inspiration or new ideas developed. Songs were often changed throughout the process, with Nystrom noting that many demos were vastly different from final studio recordings. Renkse and Nystrom chose to self-produce the album, preferring their own freedom in the creation process, and out of concern that the potential creative or financial issues of bringing in an outside producer would potentially not be a fit with the band.
The album’s overall sound has been described by journalists as progressive rock, with various other influences. Loudwire noted the similarity of the track “Serein” to 1980’s new wave music such as The Cure, due to its “gentle strumming and a soft lead… Jonas Renkse’s soothing, multi-tracked voice… a slightly uptempo rhythm […] uplifting and pop-inflected […] gorgeous, understated lead work textures.” Billboard described “Pale Flag” as having a folk ballad sound. The album’s title, The Fall of Hearts, doesn’t have any specific meaning but was rather a phrase created by Renkse that he felt best described the overall sound and lyrics of the album.