Dead Letter Circus
The Catalyst Fire
01. The Cure
02. Alone Awake
03. Burning Man
05. I Am
06. Say Your Prayers
07. The Veil
09. Lost Without Leaders
10. Stand Apart
To many, Dead Letter Circus is just another Karnivool. Comparisons are all too common in music, and both bands being from Australia seems to fuel the debate even more. With their newest effort, Dead Letter Circus not only push themselves further from being considered a Vool clone, but play on progressive and post-rock elements that give them their own sound. More energetic, more melodic, and more accessible while not being too simplistic for prog heads. If Karnivool’s Asymmetry didn’t hit you the same way their monumental Sound Awake did, The Catalyst Fire may be exactly what you’ve been hoping for out of the Aussie music scene.
The Catalyst Fire is a logical step up for Dead Letter, utilizing a more progressive songwriting style without over complicating rhythms for the sake of complicating them. The departure of founding guitarist Rob Maric has definitely had an impact on the band, but not so much that they do not sound like the Dead Letter fans know and love. Touring guitarist/long time tour manager Clint Vincent stepped in to take the reigns and did so magnificently. The Catalyst Fire is a less euphoric sounding album than ‘This Is The Warning’, with fewer songs being as upbeat, and more songs having a much darker, heavier tone. Clint’s use of distorted guitars more frequently adds a changeup that is most welcome, but it does not underplay the signature delayed guitar melodies and driving bass that has always been the backbone of the band. Bassist Stewart Hill stands out as much as vocalist Kim Benzie and is as much the crux of the band. The bass parts on The Catalyst Fire resonate with more power than ever thanks to Forrester Savell’s absolutely genius production.
Benzie’s lyrics tell stories throughout, sung with honesty and conviction, mirroring the emotion of his live performance, he’s easily one of the most underwritten vocalists in modern progressive music. The way his vocal melodies intertwine with the fluid rhythms and ethereal guitar melodies is no small feat for such a young band on only their sophomore full length. As the album progresses it hits peaks and valleys in terms of energy. Starting out high energy, slowing down a bit, picking up again around first single ‘Lodestar‘, then mellowing out again until the final few tracks. Pacing is everything with this album, and it’s handled astoundingly well, taking a darkly melancholic turn at final track ‘Kachina‘.
The Catalyst Fire is a standout album in 2013. It has all everything a fan of Dead Letter Circus will hope for and then some. Stewart Hill once again proving he is one of the most in the pocket bassists out there, and Clint Vincent debuting as the band’s lead composer, both retaining the essence of Dead Letter and pushing the band’s sound forward. While it may not have the lasting power of This Is The Warning, or the highly anthemic and euphoric sounding tracks, it will undoubtedly sate the appetite of fans for a long time to come.
Dead Letter Circus – The Catalyst Fire gets…