This my extensive and surprisingly varied list of bands that sound like Katatonia. Being a big Katatonia fan, I often find myself looking for bands with a similarities. I’m gonna divide them up in a few different groups to make it slightly less confusing. Hopefully a bit more pretty as well. Hit me up in the comments if some band is missing. I’m sorry for the abundant genre-wanking in advance but it was the only way to make this readable.
About the author
- Stefan Nordström
- Musician, songwriter, content creator, digital freelancer
- Stockholm, Sweden
- Bands: Desolator, Soliloquium, Ending Quest, Ashes of Life, Trees of Daymare, The Ashen Tree
- Social: Instagram | YouTube
The obvious, the acquainted and the sideprojects
This is a mish-mash of bands and artists that are mandatory in one way or another. If there’s something you don’t know from this block of text, you’re in for a treat!
Many Katatonia fans listen to Amorphis. While Amorphis has never been as relentessly depressing, there is certainly a signature feel to a lot of this type of Scandinavian metal.
Katatonia and Anathema go hand in hand for many. They are easily my #1 and #2 band in the world. Anathema has a fantastic discography, ranging from raw death/doom metal beginnings to symphonic rock. Check out my top 10 Anathema songs or my best Anathema albums if you’re looking to get into the band.
Bassist Niklas Sandin played on Aoria’s 2012 album “The Constant”. Good for him, because it’s a great piece of emotional atmospheric rock that should suit most Katatonia fans.
Edge of Sanity fits better on the 50 best Swedish death metal bands list than on here, but that’s no excuse to skip out on Dan’s solo album “Moontower”.
Ex-Katatonia drummer Daniel Liljekvist plays in In Mourning now. I’m not a fan of the band’s newer direction, but the debut album “Shrouded Divine” is great and there is some quality material on the second album as well. Expect modern progressive metal with a doomy touch.
Krister is one of the best hidden artists out there. Golden voice, great songs, overload on emotion. Everything a Katatonia fan should be looking for. Oh, and his guest spot on “Departer” should’ve already made everyone into a Krister fan.
Jonas Renkse and Fredrik Norrman ventured back into death/doom metal during Katatonia’s troubled days in the 90’s. They made two classic albums and then disbanded. October Tide then returned in a modern reincarnation, absent Jonas Renkse, that is still active today.
One of the biggest duh’s on the list, but they had to be in there. I don’t care for Opeth’s newer material, but the era from “My Arms, Your Hearse” until “Damnation” is epic. Even if it wasn’t, Mikael still sung on “Brave Murder Day”.
Porcupine Tree, Blackfield & Steven Wilson
Another pretty obvious addition, as Katatonia, Opeth and Porcupine Tree was a holy trinity for many progressive metal/rock fans. Porcupine Tree has aged badly for me, but I still enjoy “In Absentia” from time to time. The other two Steven Wilson projects listed also has a fair amount of great songs, especially Blackfield.
Swallow the Sun
I admittedly don’t like Swallow the Sun as much as most doom metal fans. Jonas is a big part of their history though, with his fantastic guest performance on the song “The Justice of Suffering”. Get angry reading my reviews of “Ghosts of Loss” and “New Moon”, or just get moderately disappointed by my top 10 Swallow the Sun songs.
Fredrik Norrman’s Thenighttimeproject came out of nowhere in 2016 and it seems I’m the biggest fan. It’s a light throwback to the Katatonia sound with In Mourning’s Tobias Netzell on vocals. Extremely atmospheric and fitting for dark city streets at night. One of my favorite albums of the year.
Wisdom of Crowds
Bruce Soord from The Pineapple Thief got together with Jonas for the project/album “Wisdom of Crowds”. While it’s not Katatonia good, it’s worth checking out for some sweet Jonas vocals. Musically pretty solid as well.
Jeff Buckley’s “Grace” is one of the most bittersweet-sounding albums ever. Jonas may not sing at all like Jeff Buckley, but the album has been cited as an influence during their early 2000’s period. Katatonia also covered “Nightmares by the Sea” on the “Tonight’s Decision” album.
Perhaps Katatonia’s main influence, at least in the beginning. Introduced a lot of the 4/4-drumbeat plus melodicism formula that Katatonia used in so many classics. Check out my top 10 best Paradise Lost songs, or read my review of 2017’s “Medusa” for more on the band.
Slowdive is a dominating influence on 1998’s “Discouraged Ones”, and also instrumentally on “Brave Murder Day”. One of the shoegaze pioneers, releasing two influential classics in the early 90’s. If you want to get into Slowdive, my list of the 10 best Slowdive songs is a good start.
A lot of Katatonia material has a bittersweet, nostalgic sense of emotion. The Cure’s “Disintegration” album wrote the book on that type of rock music in my opinion. There are musical and lyrical nods to the The Cure all over Katatonia’s music, even in October Tide as well (“I will never be clean again”). There’s also a random, gorgeous Jonas Renkse cover of “Lovesong” available on YouTube.
2003’s “Viva Emptiness” saw a shift in Katatonia’s influence bank. It’s heavily influenced by Tool in terms of guitars and a new-found (dare I say nu-?)metallic edge.
The death/doom metal crowd
Maybe the least exciting type of Katatonia style bands, as the “Brave Murder Day” connections often are obvious. That doesn’t make these bands less awesome though. Originality aside, the death/doom metal genre has some fantastic bands and many of them sound like early 90’s Katatonia. Here are some of them.
Daylight Dies is a mercilessly depressing death/doom with a spotless discography. They’ve toured with Katatonia, and much of their musical and lyrical pallette owes a lot to them. No matter the obvious influence, Daylight Dies is a band everyone into doom metal music should check out. 2006’s “Dismantling Devotion” is particularly tasty.
Perhaps the best that “Brave Murder Day” worship has to offer. Rapture mixed the gloom and 4/4 beats with Finnish melodicism to great effect. They released three great albums before disappearing into obscurity. If you’re not a death/doom metal fan, Rapture has crushing clean vocal songs like “The Great Distance” and “Two Dead Names” as well.
Not necissarily the most Katatonia-sounding death/doom metal band, but one of the finest. “Fallout” is hands down my favorite album in the genre. Everyone into dark music needs to check that one out.
The contemporary “doom-ish” Finnish bands
There is a horde of dark, contemporary doom bands in Finland. Most of them combine the doom metal with melodic death metal, alternative rock or other styles. What most of them have in common is that they’re pretty damn good.
Barren Earth is connected to Amorphis, and also quite similar since they blend melodeath, folk and doom. They made two solid albums with Swallow the Sun’s Mikko Kotamäki, but they got even better after Faroese super vocalist Jón Aldará joined the band.
Black Sun Aeon
Previous to Tuomas Saukkonen disbanding all his many projects and starting Wolfheart, Black Sun Aeon was his strongest band. A dark mix of death/doom and melodic death metal in classic Finnish fashion. Mikko Heikkilä’s clean vocals were the icing on the top.
Ghost Brigade mastered everything from Neurosis style sludge metal to Katatonia alt-rock hits before disbanding. The first album is particularly awesome but all four of them are worth checking out.
Released three pretty good death/doom albums before exploding with the more contemporary “Blackout Whiteout”. Hanging Garden mix the death/doom influences with lighter alternative rock and goth tendencies to create a varied soundscape.
Insomnium really bring the doom and gloom at times, when they slow down and become less of a melodeath band. 2014’s “Shadows of the Dying Sun” in particular has some Katatonia moments.
One of the most underrated bands in the entire article. I have no idea why so few people listen to Thence. “We Are Left With A Song” is an enticing album with exactly the kind of introspective, bittersweet atmosphere that most Katatonia fans should love.
Throes of Dawn
Throes of Dawn is not the most exciting band around but they sure know how to create atmosphere. 2016’s “Our Voices Shall Remain” sounds like the male vocal songs by Dead Can Dance took a metal turn. Quite a differerent take on dark rock.
Melancholic side of alternative rock/post rock etc.
A Perfect Circle
Similarly to Tool, A Perfect Circle became quite the influence for Katatonia on “Viva Emptiness” and onward. The first two APC has dark rock elements that most fans of newer Katatonia should love.
Spacey post-rock from the remnants of death/doom metal band Slumber. The songs “Highway” and “Bermuda Riviera” are dense with atmosphere and the rest of the album is good as well.
Wow, dredg is the one of the geekiest bands I know. But they’re also one of the best. Perhaps one of the lightest bands on the list, but there’s also no denying the introspective weight of a song like “Sang Real”.
Holy crap on a crapper this project is depressing and bleak as hell. The vocals are similar to Maynard from Tool. The instrumentals is a solid blend of light alternative rock and trip-hop. Lyrically, it’s some of the darkest and most close to home stuff I’ve ever heard.
I can’t talk about this band without going apeshit and delirious, but I’ll try. Put Katatonia, Deftones and various post-rock and sludge into a blender. Mix and tune it into a perfect mix of hooks and atmosphere. You now have to check out 2012’s “Reports from the Threshold of Death”. Song below!
Khoma is a Swedish alternative rock project with connections to Cult of Luna. They’re a pretty varied band, being able to deliver tearstained light rock like “In Ruins” and “Asleep” as well as heavier, sludgy material. The song “The Guillotine” is something of a signature song, and therefor a great starting point.
Great Italian shoegaze/alternative rock band that returned after an almost ten year silence with “Sentimentale Jugend”. Takes bittersweet music to a whole new level.
Leprous and their dark vocal exercises should be something that appeals to Katatonia fans. 2015’s “The Congregation” is the place to start.
Similar to Khoma and Aoria on the list. The “Puls” record has a lot of heavy alternative grooves and angsty vocal lines that should appeal to most Katatonia fans.
Soen was mostly a band I considered similar to Tool and Opeth. Then came album number three and the bleak single “Lucidity”, which should place it right in the Katatonia crosshairs.
Dark progressive metal and progrock bands
40 Watt Sun
My relationship with 40 Watt Sun is a bit flawed, as the music is so overtly sad that it comes across as cheesy at times. Still a very dark band with well-written songs.
Started out as a Pink Floyd cover band, and that’s certainly noticeable. Branches out into dark Floyd territory in a similar way to how Anathema did it on “Alternative 4” and “Judgement”.
Mick Moss has released a long series of quality albums with his Antimatter project. His lyricism has a very personal touch and resonates with me heavily. Check out my list of the 15 best Antimatter songs to learn where to start out.
2003’s “A World To Drown In” is a must-have for fans of clean vocal Katatonia. It’s filled with 4/4 beats and sorrowful vocal melodies.
In the Silence
Gem of a band that release an album with the Katatonia-aching title “A Fair Dream Gone Mad” in 2012. Classy progressive metal with an emotional edge that should appeal to most Katatonia fans.
Not necessarily dark at all times, but songs like “Gutter”, “Lunatic Soul” and “A Thousand Shards of Heaven” should appeal to Katatonia fans. Read my review of the album “Fractured” if you want to learn more about Lunatic Soul.
Up-and-down band with a lot of releases under their belt. Many Katatonia fans enjoy 2004’s “Kallocain” for good reasons, though. Quite classy, dark progressive rock with female vocals.
Pain of Salvation
Not very similar musically, but Pain of Salvation certainly has some truly dark material. Daniel Gildenlöw’s journeys into the darker sides of things should please a lot of Katatonia listeners.
Riverside is a very light band compared to Katatonia, but their progressive borderline rock/metal tendencies might still be interesting enough.
If you’re already into Antimatter, this is a great compliment. Mick Moss sings on this project and some of it sounds undeniably Antimatter-ish. Very dark and personal lyrical content.
A slightly heavier version of Riverside, at least on 2016’s solid “:KTONIK:” album. Worth checking out.
One of the least descriptive band names aside, Wolverine play classy progressive rock with a darkness that could appeal to Katatonia listeners. “Communication Lost” and “Machina Viva” are two great albums to start out with.
Clean vocal doom metal
Not all clean vocal doom bands sound like Candlemass. There’s some pretty dreary stuff for Katatonia fans to find in this genre as well. Most of this can be classified as a tad gothic metal as well, but who cares?
Isole is somewhere between classic doom metal and Opeth these days. Whatever influences they choose to utilize, most of their material is crushingly depressing.
Another very underground band that I just have to throw in here. They’re actually so underground that I haven’t even heard most of their material. The song “Frost Bite” is total “Tonight’s Decision” worship though!
A long time favorite of mine, The Foreshadowing plays monolithic doom metal with a gothic touch. Guitars are simple and heavy. Marco Benevento’s vocals are otherworldly and prophetic. Fantastic band. Read my review of “Seven Heads Ten Horns” if you want to know more.
The best songs from this Dutch band (another band on this list that’s criminally underrated) sounds like The Cure’s “Disintegration” gone gothic metal. If you’re interested, read my review of 2016’s “Sunset”.
Trees of Eternity
Gorgeous light take on death/doom metal with female vocals. 2016’s “Hour of the Nightingale” doesn’t quite sound like something else, making it worth checking out for fans of any kind of doom metal.
The singer/songwriter genre has a lot of dark stuff to offer, pretentious as some of it may be.
Jason Molina/Songs: Ohia
This is an artist I can’t listen to it all when I’m in a decent or better mood. Just authentically super sad songwriter music that hits very close to home.
The ultimate singer/songwriter and a champion of bittersweet melancholy. Get all the albums and all the collections if you don’t have them yet, he’s awesome. Don’t miss out on Danny Cavanagh’s Nick Drake cover album either.
Petter Carlsen’s music may not qualify as particularly dark. However, it’s oozing with emotion and engagement in the same way as newer Anathema. Read my review of 2017 album “Glimt” if you want to know more about what makes Petter so good.
I’m not sure where to place these bands, so I’ll just finish the list off with them.
Most Dark Tranquillity is fairly standard style melodic death metal. When Mikael Stanne decides to his gothic clean vocals, something else happens. They display fantastic emotion and make Dark Tranquillity into a whole different band. I’ve noticed some Katatonia nods on the newer material.
I’m not a fan of the depressive/suicidal black metal scene. Forgotten Tomb is the exception. Many of their guitar melodies bring early Katatonia to mind. It’s also overall one of the most relentlessly depressing bands out there.
Fjara, Fjara, Fjara! Sólstafir may not have many aesthetic similarities to Katatonia. It’s just undeniably emotional and affecting music that should resonate well.
Soliloquium – progressive death/doom metal heavily influenced by Katatonia
My band Soliloquium plays a brand of progressive doom metal that’s often appealing to Katatonia fans. It’s a mix of Katatonia’s death/doom style and clean vocal material. The song above is called “The Discarded”. It’s the second single from our 2020 album “Things We Leave Behind”. Check it out! If you dig it, follow the links to below to check out the rest of our music. A great way to support my music and content work is to buy digital music or merch from my Bandcamp page.