Decibrity Playlist: Anders Nyström (Katatonia) (Part 1)

We’ve been running these playlists for about six months or so, and our favorite ones by far involve well-established artists telling us about records that related in some way to each of their studio albums (we’re looking at you Shane Embury and Greg Mackintosh). So when we recently had an early morning chat with Katatonia co-founder and guitarist Anders Nyström for an upcoming piece, we couldn’t help ourselves from asking him to do the same. Little did we know, however, that he’d go way above and beyond, picking TWO non-Katatonia records that relate in some way to each of his band’s nine full-lengths. That’s right, nine, because in case you didn’t know, the Swedes are set to release Dead End Kings on Tuesday via Peaceville.
We say this each time, but it’s inevitably true: given the wide parameters—where his head was at musically, something that he remembers being really into at the time or that just represents any given period to him—we think you’ll find some of his selections quite surprising. We’ve compiled Anders’ picks into a convenient little Spotify playlist, which you should feel free to subscribe to.

Dance Of December Souls (1993) :: Fields Of The Nephilim’s Elizium
All of the diehard metallers who considered our debut album a masterpiece of melodic dark doom metal perhaps never knew, or at least never realized, we already had a big bunch of goth rock bands amongst our biggest influences, like The Cure, Sisters of Mercy and maybe foremost Fields Of The Nephilim. This colored our sound to achieve a different approach within metal right from the start. Elizium is a personal treasure and a milestone of atmospheric and elusive music that seems to never leave my ever-rotating playlist.

Dance Of December Souls (1993) :: Paradise Lost’s Gothic
The album that gave the final push to form Katatonia and make us set off on our own journey. A milestone of a record blending harmony and dissonance in the shape of an entirely new subgenre—gothic metal!

Brave Murder Day (1996) :: Slowdive’s Souvlaki
We’d stumbled upon a genre peopled defined as “shoegaze”, which was a movement from the UK with alternative bands creating this lush, epic and atmospheric wall of sound and performing it mostly while keeping an introverted approach, something that could be seen with the band members looking down on their shoes instead of interacting with an audience. We embraced this immediately as we could relate to the style and once again decided to filter this influence into our metal-based sound. I actually believe we were the first metal band to do so, because most of these instrumental post-rock/drone/hypnotic whatever bands I hear these days, well a lot of it sounds to me like Brave Murder Day minus the growls. Slowdive broke up a long time ago, but this album has never broken the bond it has with me.

Brave Murder Day (1996) :: Kent’s Verkligen
A rock/pop band outta Sweden that just somehow clicked completely. They had the drive, the grit and the songs and it was simple and straight and we adapted this to our writing. The 4/4 beat will forever be the ultimate “drive”! We exaggerated it as much as we could, often being called “more monotonous than a drum machine loop on repeat”—perfect!

Discouraged Ones (1998) :: Red House Painters’ Bridge and Rollercoaster
These albums were done from the same recording session, but were split up into two records. This was probably what totally dominated our CD players at this point. It pushed us over the edge we’d been hesitant towards and convinced us to pursue the need to write “real songs” with “real vocals” and also adapt the lyrics to a bit more of a realistic take on life’s ups and downs—well mostly downs, or actually, only downs. The whole motto at this time turned out to be “once discouraged, discouraged ones.”

Discouraged Ones (1998) :: Tool’s Ænima
The best “alternative metal” we’d heard. It was hooky yet complex, kinda weird and different. Cryptic lyrics. The opening riff in “Stinkfist” was such a home run and we wanted to sneak in some of that type of groove riffing in our otherwise very straight and simplistic direction.

Tonight’s Decision (1999) :: Jeff Buckley’s Grace
When I heard Jeff Buckley’s music, especially his vocals, I knew it was something unique and legendary. He quickly became an influence on our songwriting and encouraged our belief to try to do things differently, be a bit more daring. I remember reading the news about his drowning accident and how the Sketches… album would never become more than just sketches, so in tribute we even decided to go ahead and feature a cover his song “Nightmares By The Sea” on our album, something that hadn’t really happened before nor has happened since. His talent shines and lives on forever in the music. R.I.P.

Tonight’s Decision (1999) :: Tori Amos’s From The Choirgirl Hotel
Tori’s enchanting piano playing and unique vocal style has really influenced me a lot over the years too. I discovered her in 1994 and quickly obtained her discography. In 1998, she had just released From The Choirgirl Hotel, so that was spinning non-stop. One of her vocal lines subconciously became a guitar riff on this album and that kinda shows the major role she had on influencing my writing.

*Stay tuned for Part 2 next week. Meanwhile, you can pick up a copy of Dead End Kings here and catch the band on tour alongside Paradise Lost and the Devin Townsend Project:

September 4, Studio 7, Seattle, WA
September 5, Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, Canada
September 7, Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA
September 8, El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
September 9, Marquee Theatre, Tempe, AZ
September 11, The Studio at Warehouse Live, Houston, TX
September 12, Trees, Dallas, TX
September 13, Granada, Lawrence, KS
September 14, The Summit Music Hall, Denver, CO
September 16, Station 4, Minneapolis, MN
September 17, Bottom Lounge, Chicago, IL
September 18, Mr. Smalls Theatre, Millvale, PA
September 19, The Opera House, Toronto, Canada
September 20, Café Campus, Montreal, Canada
September 21, Palladium Downstairs, Worcester, MA
September 22, Theatre of Living Arts, Philadelphia, PA
September 23, Irving Plaza, New York, NY
September 24, Rams Head Live!, Baltimore, MD

**Photo: Linus Pettersson

**We update one Spotify playlist for each new Decibrity entry, so feel free to subscribe to that here. Past entries include:

“Best of” Rush (Part 1) (Part 2)
Shadows Fall
Greg Mackintosh (Paradise Lost) (Part 1) (Part 2)
“Best of” Meshuggah
Barren Earth
Shane Embury (Napalm Death) (Part 1) (Part 2)