Dec 132023

(Erstwhile NCS contributor Ben Manzella attended the performances of Katatonia, Gost, and Thrown into Exile at the Echoplex in Los Angeles on November 30, 2023, and he has given us the following concert review along with lots of the photos he made during the show.)

Until last night, it had been six years since my last opportunity to see Katatonia live. I wasn’t sure what to expect with what I saw as a confusing three-band lineup on a Thursday night. Even Jonas of Katatonia mentioned as he greeted the audience that he doesn’t often go to gigs on Thursday nights but he and the band greatly appreciated all of us making time to see them. The collective cheer at the Echoplex made it clear the appreciation was mutual.


The first band of the night was LA locals, Thrown into Exile. They’ve been around for a while and have two records out with their most recent being in 2020. I had heard them before and they’ve opened some great lineups locally for bands ranging from The Halo Effect and the recent Cavalera Conspiracy tour, as well as appearing at both the first-ever Metal Injection Fest and the return of the Milwaukee Metal Fest.

Their sound reminds me a bit of modern Trivium, and without giving an exhaustive list, I’d say they lean toward the “groove” metal or what would have been called the New Wave of American Heavy Metal sound in the mid-2000s. Considering that a synth-wave artist and however you want to try classifying Katatonia were to follow, it was a confusing start to the night.

Being locals, they clearly had fans in the crowd which led to a better reaction than I expected when I arrived that night. If I’m being completely honest, I couldn’t connect with their music but I can’t deny they put on a strong performance. Their latest single is a song entitled, “You’ve Fallen So Far.”


If I thought the crowd was going to be easier to understand as the night progressed, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I was excited to see Gost because electronic projects of this type are a challenge for me usually when it comes to photos and it is interesting to see how the artist or group might approach a live presentation.

Along with a keyboard and a laptop for programming/sequencing purposes, a bass player added some heft to the sound for the evening. I heard someone nearby make a snarky claim they couldn’t hear the bass at all, but I thought Gost’s set had the best sound quality of the night.

I thought there was an irony that Gost happened to be in the Los Angeles area while Skinny Puppy is playing their final shows here at the same time. A project of this type that has appeal to a metal audience while being firmly rooted in the electronic music world would make for a great pairing with Skinny Puppy, but I also appreciated the challenge it offered to the audience on Thursday who perhaps didn’t understand why Katatonia would tour with an electronic artist or don’t typically listen to that type of music. After working with both Blood Music and Century Media in the past, it was just announced that Gost is signed to Metal Blade Records for the release of their 2024 LP entitled Prophecy.

After about a 40-minute set, a mixture of reactions ranging from confusion to impatience was palpable in the venue. I give Gost a lot of credit for being fully committed to their visual presentation of the music and focusing on creating an atmosphere in the venue while only acknowledging the audience minimally. They played their latest single, also titled “Prophecy“, which Metal Blade premiered the video for recently. The overall concept as I understand is to play on the “Satanic Panic”, both of the past and that seems to be having a revived life in the United States. Using sigils that point toward occult elements both in the performance and often in the artwork for Gost, I’d bet this project will appeal to fans of all darker-leaning music.


As ten o’clock approached, the room went dark and the anxiety in the room turned into excitement. Katatonia is touring as a four-piece lineup with Anders Nyström absent from the stage. At just shy of an hour and a half, Katatonia treated us all to a tight set that showed the band truly enjoying themselves not only as musicians but as friends. It is refreshing when seeing a band live that has been around for multiple decades to still enjoy touring and not appear as though they’re going through the motions. With this being the first US tour since the release of their latest LP, Sky Void of Stars, they played five of the ten songs found on it along with material from the last seven records with the oldest song being from 2003’s Viva Emptiness.

While fans like myself might miss hearing songs like “For My Demons” or “Murder” from some of the earlier records, I won’t pass up the opportunity to support Katatonia whenever possible. I’m still growing in my appreciation for their latest LP, and as I somewhat touched on in my review of Gost’s set, I believe the acoustics that night might have done some of the songs a disservice. With all that said, it was a pleasure to see a long-time favorite band of mine again and be able to document a set of theirs for the first time.

Katatonia have already announced they will return stateside in 2024 as part of the Milwaukee Metal Fest with other dates still in question. As it’s well known by this point, Jonas and Anders of Katatonia are both involved with the band Bloodbath, who are set for the Maryland Death Fest lineup in 2024, along with a great club date set for El Corazon in Seattle featuring Primordial, Grave, Archgoat, and Weregoat.

We’ll see what 2024 has in store in due time, but for now, I recommend taking dedicated listening time with Sky Void of Stars, which was released by Napalm Records in January of 2023.


  1. Went to their shows in SLC in Nov/22 and Nov/23… they always put on a great show. Saw them with Opeth in SLC many years ago as well. I will always remember that show because Heritage had just come out and Mikael didn’t do any songs with Harsh Vox…people in the crowd were pissed lol.

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