The Catalyst Fire
We Are United Pty. Ltd./Warner Music Australia
When Brisbane (Queensland, Australia) based progressive/alternative rock outfit Dead Letter Circus finally released their debut full-length effort ‘This Is The Warning’ in 2010, it earned unanimous acclaim from all corners of the globe. Over the next two years, the band seized the opportunity to take their music as far as they could, with much of this time spent touring both here in Australia and abroad. With three years having passed since the release of ‘This Is The Warning’, the newly revamped five piece outfit (Who comprise of vocalist Kim Benzie, new guitarist Clint Vincent (Ex-Melodyssey), new guitarist Tom Skerlj, session guitarist Luke Palmer, bassist Stewart Hill and drummer/backing vocalist Luke Williams) returned to the studio with producer Forrester Savell (Who also produced the band’s debut effort), to emerge with their highly anticipated second full-length ‘The Catalyst Fire’. And much like their debut, their latest effort is another winner.
Obviously keen to maintain the momentum built up with ‘This Is The Warning’, ‘The Catalyst Fire’ doesn’t break a whole lot of new ground for the group in the sound sense. But while the album may lack in true experimentation and departure from the expected sound Dead Letter Circus have been offering up since the release of their first E.P., they more than make up for in refining their song writing to damn near perfection.
The album is opened up with ‘The Cure’, which immediately reveals some of the subtle changes the band have made to their sound in the last three years, while maintaining their trademark sound. The song’s notably dense sound is opened up a fraction more to allow Vincent and Skerlj to showcase their strengths on the guitar/keyboard front with considerable success (Especially given that former guitarist Rob Maric was largely responsible for helping give the band their unique sound), while the overall darker vibe within the song works hand in hand with the darker themes depicted on the lyrical front.
The electronic elements coupled with the heavier guitars works a treat on the faster paced ‘Alone Awake’, and when incorporating Benzie’s mesmerising falsetto vocals into the mix, the song easily stands out as a favourite.
Although a solid enough tune, ‘Burning Man’ doesn’t quite hit its mark with much of the song coming across as a leftover/rewritten idea from ‘This Is The Warning’ and a chorus that comes across as fairly predictable and underwhelming.
But despite the shortcomings of the former track, it’s on the faster paced songs such as ‘Lodestar’ (The first single lifted from the album), ‘Say Your Prayers’, ‘The Veil’, ‘Stand Apart’ where the band truly manage to fire on all cylinders, and duly amaze listeners with the results.
Elsewhere, there are some slow-burning efforts such as ‘Lost Without Leaders’, ‘I Am’ and the closer ‘Kachina’ to give the album the right amount of variation in tempo and character to make almost every track on the album to stand out on its own.
Overall, while ‘The Catalyst Fire’ isn’t a huge departure from where Dead Letter Circus left things three years ago, it does seem to come across as an album that’s filled with songs that have a clearer message and purpose, and delivered with a newfound sense of previously untouched maturity. And at this early stage of their career, that’s enough to attract my attention, and keep it.
For more information on Dead Letter Circus, check out - http://www.deadlettercircus.com/
© Justin Donnelly