Power of Metal.dk Review

Dead Letter Circus
The Catalyst Fire
Style: Progressive Rock
Release date: 8 August, 2013
Playing time: 56:38

While many people focus their attention on rising progressive talent in Europe or the US, I'm here to tell you that Australia is witnessing an explosion of progressive talent. The Aussies also have a distinct sound, rather ethereal and at the same time heavy-hitting. Indeed, their music is elegant and graceful, but also accessible, intricate, subtle, and melodious. All of these adjectives apply to the band Dead Letter Circus, as well.

Dead Letter Circus are certainly more accessible than most prog bands. They are proggy, but have a certain level of alternative influence that makes them "cool", if you will. These guys, besides being absolutely hilarious and also brilliant at their live shows, have a way of making soaring music that is simultaneously complicated, catchy, and charismatic. Yes, the band usually focuses on shorter song structures, some alternative arrangements, proggy instrumentals and vocals, and an aerial atmosphere. As it were, then, DLC is an excellent band to introduce new people to progressive music, as I feel the elements of their music are easily dissected and easy on the ears.

I am a fan of DLC's debut album, "This is the Warning", for its fantastic vibes, respectable difficulty, and simply outstanding guitar work. However, I think their sophomore album, "The Catalyst Fire", is definitely head-and-shoulders above their debut work. The compositions are more mature, headier, more complex, and even just catchier, too. I was even a little worried, as guitarist Rob Maric left the band, and I had never heard new guitarist Clint Vincent. However, my worry was for not, as the high-tuned guitars are back, and Clint may be an even better player. Indeed, the whole band stepped it up a few notches, as the rather simple melodies of the first album are replaced with complexity, dazzling instrumental acrobatics, and a cohesion that usually takes a band a few more albums to attain. Guitars are riveting, the drums ambitious, the keys atmospheric, and the bass seems to be the hinge upon which major hooks swing.

Vocalist Kim is astounding, as always. I saw DLC live with Fair to Midland a couple years ago, and, having only heard DLC's album a few times, I was simply blown away by his control and power. Yes, I think one of the problems with both albums is that you don't really get any idea of just how good a singer Kim really is. He is an artist, and he is impressive, especially live. His style is alternative, but, as I said, his vocals are also proggy as he never succumbs to the laziness of much mainstream music. He pushes himself and uses odd vocal lines that sound so good alongside the striking music.

From the great introductory "The Cure" and my favorite "Alone Awake" to the oddly catchy "Lodestar" and "I Am", this album fires on all cylinders; or, if you aren't a car person, this album hits all the right spots. I was also particularly impressed with the included acoustic versions of "I Am" and "Lodestar", as they change the arrangements impressively. They also include a single from a couple years ago, "Wake Up", which was a great idea, as this tune is simply surreal.

So, pay more attention to the Australia scene. I can name almost a dozen upcoming progressive Aussie bands that are brilliant. They are unique and varied, and Dead Letter Circus is certainly at the forefront of the scene with their kinetic live shows and hypnotic music. Keep your ears peeled.

01. The Cure
02. Alone Awake
03. Burning Man
04. Lodestar
05. I Am
06. Say Your Prayers
07. The Veil
08. Insider
09. Lost Without Leaders
10. Stand Apart
11. Kachina
12. I Am (acoustic)
13. Lodestar (acoustic)
14. Wake Up
Label: The End Records
Distribution: The Beginning Media
Artwork rating: 99/100
Reviewed by: Jason Spencer
Date: 5 October, 2013
Website: www.deadlettercircus.com