So, what’s up? Have you heard this band out of Australia, Dead Letter Circus? Oh, you have. So I guess I’m the ONLY one who hadn’t, huh? That’s cool. My great friend over at The End Records Caitlin turned me onto them a short time ago (thanks, bestie!), and I’ve really been grooving to their sophomore album The Catalyst Fire which comes out October 29. I’m not sure I would put them in the prog category as so many others do, however. No doubt those elements are there, and the musicianship is outstanding, but mercifully they don’t go off on long winding tangents the way a lot of those bands do. I don’t know what I’d classify them as, but I like them, so there!
“The Cure” opens things up with some serious atmospheric guitar tones, aided by digital delay, almost floating through the air, seemingly carrying you through space, then “Alone Awake”, fueled by the drumming of Luke Williams achieves liftoff and you’re flying toward parts unknown. Around the three minute mark this thing grows some serious legs, too. Kim Benzie’s passionate vocals start us off on “Burning Man” and his delivery definitely makes him a force to be reckoned with as a singer. The guitars here are some of the heaviest as well, thanks to Clint Vincent and Tom Skerlj, and bassist Stewart Hill seems to be everywhere at once, especially on first single “Lodestar”, which also features some crushing guitar work. This was my runaway favorite, no question.
Once again Benzie’s vocals soar to near perfection on “I Am”, another tune that hit me right away due to it being somewhat of a change of pace before “Say Your Prayers” ratchets the intensity back up ten notches. The keys on this album are absolutely vital to the ambience of every song, especially this one, and the sequencing, coupled with the flowing guitar lines really makes “The Veil” another absolute standout. “Lost Without Leaders” is one of the more bombastic tracks on the record, but not at the expense of its melody, which is good. The same can be said for “Stand Apart” which is THE heaviest track on The Catalyst Fire, and another one of my favorites.
The only song I wasn’t all that hot on was “Insider”. Something about it just didn’t click. But in this day and age, having 10 out of 11 be winners is a mighty fine achievement if I do say so myself. Closer “Kachina” has more of a dark mood to it, and the players are firing on all cylinders, nailing every note and nuance like a band that has been doing this for awhile.
So what I discovered in my first foray into Dead Letter Circus is a band that manages to take some elements of prog, and some straight-up rock, and put it together to create something that the musicians and non-musicians can both get down with and enjoy. I was very impressed, and I look forward to seeing what’s next from these guys.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Burning Man”, “Lodestar”, “Stand Apart”, “I Am”, “The Veil”, “Say Your Prayers”