Katatonia is a Swedish Doom Metal band formed in 1991 by Jonas Renkse (who used the stage name Lord Seth) and Anders Nyström (who also had a stage name called Blackheim).

The band has an important page in the history of the genre called Doom Metal, with its work as a reference for the style, along with that of other bands. However, like his companions Anathema and Paradise Lost, he took steps towards Gothic Metal, with a lighter sound and clean voices, starting with the album “Discouraged Ones” (1998). Another change was felt in “Viva Emptiness” in 2003, where the music focused more on the melody and vocalizations of Jonas Renkse, approaching a sound closer to alternative Rock/Metal.

Formed in 1991 in Stockholm, Sweden, the band Katatonia was founded by longtime friends Anders Nyström and Jonas Renkse. After several years of compositions, rehearsals and home recordings, the band began to reap the first fruits of their work with the release of the demo tape entitled “Jhva Elohim Meth” (1992), recorded at the Swedish studio Gorysound Studios, produced by the multi-instrumentalist Dan Swanö.

The demo sold out immediately, and Katatonia caught the attention of Germany’s Vic Records.
They released the Ep titled Jhva Elohim Meth – the Revival.
With the release of this album, the work was quickly recognized. The duo now needed new musicians to add to the band to expand it. Thus, bassist Guillaume Le Huche (stage name Israphel Wing) was recruited to begin the first live tests.

At the end of 1992, the band signed with the record label Unisound (formerly Gorysound), and in 1993, recordings began for their first studio album, “Dance of December Souls”, produced by the band themselves and by Dan Swanö. It seemed like the album would never see the light of day, but as soon as it was released in December 1993, it succeeded with critics and the European Heavy-Metal scene, becoming a Doom Metal classic.

In 1994, the Italian Avantgarde Music approached the band to compose some songs that would be released on a compilation. But the songs ended up being released on an ep titled “For Funerals to Come” (1995). Songs like “Funeral Wedding “and “Shades Of Emerald Fields” show the same polished sound in “Dance of The December Souls”, but much more mature, with a slight subtlety: the experience accumulated through live shows.

This year was turbulent for the band. Anders Nyström and Jonas Renkse had problems finding a definitive and stable formation for Katatonia, which meant they had to dedicate much more time to other projects. Jonas Renkse was highly involved with his other project, October Tide, while Anders Nyström divided his creativity between the bands Diabolical Masquerade and Bewitched.

Frustrated with the abandonment of Katatonia’s unexplored future and a little bothered by the sadness that the matter brought, the friends decided to return, now trying a new approach for the band in early 1996. Now with a new definitive member, the guitarist of October Tide Fred Norrman knocked on the always open door of Unisound. Band and record companies enter into an intricate web of complex ideas and visions, but until then no song had been written and arranged.

After two weeks of recording testing arrangements, melodies and concepts, Katatonia emerged again with the studio album “Brave Murder Day”. Mikael Åkerfeldt, from the Swedish band Opeth, was invited to record the singing, especially more guttural parts, as Jonas Renkse had stated that his voice no longer had the same timbre for this type of singer. Now, the band had reinvented its timbre and music, and this album proved to be an influence that many bands would later draw inspiration from.

After successfully travelling to Europe for the first time in autumn 1996, the band was eager to re-enter the studio to record new material.

Faced with the Unisound record company’s closed doors, the only choice was Sunlight Studios, located in Stockholm. With full freedom to show their originality and experimentation, the band felt free to compose and the result would be the mini-album Sounds of Decay, still on Avantgarde Music. Produced by the band and mixed by Tomas Skogsberg, this album has some sound reminiscent of Brave Murder Day, partly because it also features Mikael Åkerfeldt in a duet with Jonas Renske.

At the height of their creativity, Anders Nyström, Jonas Renkse and Norrman began to define the band.

The new member would be bassist Mikael Oretoft, returning full steam ahead in 1997 to release their third studio album, Discouraged Ones, and now with a revival of the band’s old phase with Jonas Renkse once again occupying his classic role as drummer and still singing.

Åkerfeldt moved from the position of ‘primal scream vocalist’ to that of producer and backing vocalist. On this album, we begin to feel the real value of Jonas Renkse’s new voice in a cleaner and more distinct vocal style. Moving their musicality 180 degrees seemed a bit risky for the band, but the quality of the music on this album exceeded expectations. The Doom Metal (lifestyle) trends that flourished in their music give way to contemporary melodies, with lyrics dealing with feelings of loss and desolation, despair and hope. On this album, the band definitely emerges in the Doom Metal style.

The British record label Peaceville had a reputation for bringing out several new bands, but Discouraged Ones made the company fall in love with Katatonia’s dynamic off-label music, proposing a long-term deal: the recording of five albums. And the band which had many of its favourite bands under the wing of Peaceville, accepted the undertaking and returned to acting as a trio, starting work on its fourth studio album, Tonight’s Decision (1999).

On this album, the band returns to Sunlight, still with Åkerfeldt co-producing and backing vocals and with the help of the experienced Skogsberg in mixing. An old friend and former producer Dan Swanö brought a guest on drumsticks – allowing Jonas Renkse to focus more on the melodic parts of his voice, which are becoming more incredible every day. With its strong international distribution and support at Peaceville, Katatonia saw its popularity reach unimaginable dimensions. At the end of that year, the band went on tour across Scandinavia, opening shows for legends such as Paradise Lost, with new members: Fredrik’s brother, Mattias Norrman on bass and Daniel Liljekvist on drums.

Busy throughout 2000 recording their fifth album and visiting Poland and the USA, opening for Opeth’s friends at various festivals, Katatonia released the album “Last Fair Deal Gone Down” in the early summer of 2001. A CD of three songs precedes it: the title song of the single is called Teargas, a song from the album Last Fair… and two others composed mainly for the single: “Sulfur and March”.

Jonas Renske establishes himself daily as one of the most honest and distinctive vocalists on the Swedish music scene. Vulnerability in his vocal performance encouraged us to believe in every word at a time in music where, according to the most enlightened fans and artists, these were times of “musical falsification”.
Guided by the excellent guitar work of the genius Anders Nyström, Katatonia took dark and Gothic music to the dimly lit limits of modernity with a contemporary approach, gaining followers wherever they performed.

Following the success of the Peacefest festival in March 2000, Katatonia returned to the UK in May and embarked on a mini-headlining tour. Excited by the crowd’s reaction, they quickly returned to open Opeth’s concerts in Europe and the United Kingdom again, and at the same time released a second EP in 2001 called Tonight’s Music, a track also taken from the album “Last Fair Deal Gone Down”. The EP also includes two exclusive songs: “Help Me Disappear” and “How I Enjoy the Light”.

The year 2002 was peaceful, and the band focused a lot on the process of composing, arranging and mixing the next album. Finally, in 2003, a new album would be released: Viva Emptiness, recorded in the gloomy Swedish winter at 301 studios in Stockholm and Fascination Street in Örebro, produced by Anders Nyström and Jonas Renkse and mixed by Jens Bogren. Once again the band showed that they had not stagnated, showing even more evolution, much closer to alternative rock psychedelic, but with even more weight and density in the compositions. Shortly after the release, a tour in Europe with the same title began during the months of April and May 2003.

Fame, consecration

In 2004, Katatonia travelled to Scandinavia twice, went on a European tour and participated in festivals worldwide. Once the tours are over, the band starts working on the next work of art.

In 2005, two compilation albums by the band were released. The first to be released was by Avantgarde Music, entitled Brave Yester Days, which provided a musical overview of the band between 1992 and 1997, including two more records, previously released as EPs, demos, and other rarities. The Peaceville record label, The Black Sessions, released the second. This compilation contained two discs of classic recordings from 1998 to 2004, plus a live concert on DVD from the 2003 tour of the album Viva Emptiness, recorded in Poland. This collection also included several B-sides, which contained the best songs from the Discouraged Ones and Viva Emptiness albums (with the addition of Wait Outside, a track not used on the Viva Emptiness album).

Back on the road in March, the band tours Europe. Jonas Renkse and Anders Nyström return home to complete the mixing and recording process for the next album. At the end of the year, the band played in Russia for the first time in their career, in two big cities to a crowd that had waited more than a decade to see them. Success and packed concerts were what the band brought back as a reminder of the former Soviet republic.

At the beginning of 2006, Katatonia chose My Twin as a working song on the radio and in the media, releasing a music video for it directed by Charlie Granberg. The song was taken from the band’s seventh album, The Great Cold Distance, recorded in the summer of 2005 at Fascination Street studios in Örebro, Sweden.

Produced by Anders Nyström and Jonas Renkse and co-produced and mixed by Jens Bogren and David Castillo, The Great Cold Distance is undoubtedly the most dynamic album in the band’s history, according to the media. Jonas Renkse explains that “The Great Cold Distance” speaks of the distance it takes to travel the corridors of disillusionment and shame humans bring upon themselves. This album will only help to increase the coldness between us. It shows us a life damned and hopeless.
That’s what you’ll find in every chord of this album.”

Current Members

Jonas Renkse – Singing (1991–present), guitar (2002–present), drums (1991–1994, 1996–1998)
Anders Nyström (“Blakkheim”) – Guitar (1991–present), bass (1992, 1996), keys (1997–2005)
Niklas “Nille” Sandin – Bass (2011-present)
Daniel Moilanen – Drums (2014-present)
Roger Öjersson – guitar (2016–present)

Studio Albums

Dance of December Souls (1993)
Brave Murder Day (1996)
Discouraged Ones (1998)
Tonight’s Decision (1999)
Last Fair Deal Gone Down (2001)
Viva Emptiness (2003)
The Great Cold Distance (2006)
Night Is The New Day (2009)
Dead End Kings (2012)
Dethroned and Uncrowned (2013)
The Fall of Hearts (2016)
City Burials (2020)
Sky Void of Stars (2023)