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After releasing an album, which reached #2 on the ARIA Charts, was certified as a gold record, and voted one of triple j’s Hottest 100 Albums of All Time, Dead Letter Circus set the bar high for their next release. Luckily, The Catalyst Fire, the follow-up to 2010’s brilliant debut This is the Warning, shows the band has certainly put in a respectable amount of effort to live up to these high standards.
On this album, Dead Letter Circus do not slip away much from the progressive rock that brought them success, with only occasional moments where hints of a Linkin Park-type sensibility come through.
‘The Cure’ is introduced through some heavy digital building, with guitars that glide over this. The song develops and includes hints of metal, adding a higher register and speedily-picked guitar to the mighty mass of sound. With time, the noise falls back to some gentle acoustic, adding another dimension to the track. ‘Alone Awake’ is doused with energetic bursts of noise and showcases some diverse guitar tones and techniques.
Lead single ‘Lodestar’ is lively and contains prominent melodic vocals, making it seem a more than appropriate selection. This vigour drops for the slower-paced ‘I Am’, which begins quite laid-back with murmurs behind Kim Benzie’s vocals. Dead Letter Circus still manage to succienctly reach a few points that are just as powerful as moments in the more energetic songs.
‘Lost Without Leaders‘ is a standout track, with confidently articulated instrumental parts and strong, statement-making vocals. This is carried into ‘Stand Apart’ but with an increase in pace, as the song serves as the band’s final punch before closer ‘Kachina’. The final slow-building and moderated track aptly refelcts on everything that is presented.
‘The Catalyst Fire‘ has a lot of self-imposed pressure. With a strong, well-received debut under your belt, any subsequent offerings are always going to be anticipated and graded more intensely. Thankfully, Dead Letter Circus present an honest and articulate sophomore album.
Dead Letter Circus have faced the all too common challenge of living up to the standards set by a standout album. For that reason, ‘The Catalyst Fire’ is a solid addition to the band’s collection of sounds rather than what can often turn out to be a bit of a disappointment.
1. The Cure
2. Alone Awake
3. Burning Man
5. I Am
6. Say Your Prayers
7. The Veil
9. Lost Without Leaders
10. Stand Apart