The band have changed dramatically since their Death Metal roots and it's all for the better. Jonas Renkse's decision to change from growled to clean vocals was the best he's ever made. His voice drips with sorrow and melancholy but carries with it poise and grace. It's very listenable to.
Their albums tend to be best listened to as albums rather than a selection of tracks if that makes sense? The songs tend to fade into one another and it's easy to forget which you're listening to. This is usually a bad thing but with Katatonia it isn't, it just means you ought to just listen to The Fall Of Hearts unhindered, maybe with the lights out or something. Relax yourself for an hour
The opening track, Takeover, is one of the longest on the album at just over seven minutes and it's a strange choice of opener. It's straight into the first verse, there's no intro and it starts quite restrained before the swirling guitars gradually make their presence felt. It highlights their further shift away from Death Metal, through Doom Metal and into Progressive Metal territory. It's a grand atmospheric piece that draws you in quickly and Jonas's tale of unrequited love is bittersweet without being too mawkish.
Serein was one of the pre-released tracks and is a perfect snapshot of The Fall Of Hearts, encompassing all the aspects of it within a reasonably short song. It takes a few listens for the chorus to sink in but when it does it won't be leaving. Have fun singing "Await to be slain by memories of old" to yourself all day. I googled to see what serein meant and it's either the French word for 'serene' or it's "fine rains falling after sunset from a sky in which no clouds are visible" Either are perfectly apt.
The third track is Old Heart Falls which is sort of the title track and the first song to have been released as a teaser for the album. It's not as immediate as Serein but I prefer it as a song, especially if you pay attention to the lyrics. It seems to be about an old man thinking about death and his wife who died years before. It's an incredibly depressing song but beautifully executed. The simple mantra of Sorrow will find you that runs through it is particularly effecting. it segues seamlessly into Decima, a mostly acoustic song that features some subtle strings that add to the atmosphere.
Sanction comes out jarringly with guitars very much at the forefront. It's much more in,line with the classic era Katatonia. it's still classy and emotional though and is inter-laden with quieter passages that make the heavier parts seem that much more heavy. With Residual we're right back into the introspective stuff. A gentle melody and melancholic, flowery lyrics it's a calming thing right up until the last minute or two when it erupts into a dramatic finalé.
Next is Serac and it serves as an excellent centrepiece for the album, It's the longest song here at just seven and a half minutes long and it's kind of a stretched out Serein in that it has all of the elements on offer on The Fall Of Hearts present within it: Hefty guitars, grandly sorrowful lyrics and soft atmospheric sections. It's an excellent song that doesn't feel half as long as it is.