Review Summary: Guitar Hero may have gotten them exposure, but it does not do this band justice. Proggy and full of thrash metal, Catalyst packs a punch.
Some things come and go; bellbottom jeans, high socks, flower skirts, and bowl cuts are good examples. However, some trends just never seem to die, rather they get more refined with age. This is exactly what happened in the music scene - more notably in the punk/crossover/thrash genre. While bands like Black Flag, Bad Brains, Anthrax, Metallica, Slayer, and Rancid have arguably seen their peak, new bands are rising to fill in the gaps. One of the bands worth mentioning is Prototype. Unfortunately, how I discovered this band isn’t exactly noble, as my first listen was from Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. Although, I am glad that I heard at least one of their songs.
Prototype are a thrash metal band from California that mixes the full-on moshing sections of “Big Four” legends, Anthrax, with the progressive/more technical parts from Dream Theater. To be honest, the song they have featured on Guitar Hero doesn’t even come close to giving them the exposure they deserve.
I never would have expected such a band to sneak in so expertly 5/4 and 6/8 time signatures around 4/4 thrash pieces, while at the same time have the band members explore so confidently jazz and atmospheric sections. And the thing is, none of this seems overwhelming. Besides the oddball song or two, the whole album flows really well even though it is about an hour long.
Throughout the album, the instruments are outstanding. The transitions seem concise and to the point. The guitars are what mainly impress me though. The solos are melodic and soaring but also screaming with a metal vengeance. Although the solos are spectacular, what astounds me the most is what happening behind the solos. Normally, bands play a simple chord progression behind a solo, but not this band.
Prototype transports the listener into progressive heaven as the bass shreds nearly as much as the lead guitar does and drummer shows off some jazz beats here and there. Even the rhythm guitar takes a break playing the main rhythm and adds some extra flavor to the guitar solos.
Another point worth mentioning is that the vocalist occasionally adds some unclean vocals to the mix (sounding similar to Behind Silence and Solitude era Phil Labonte). This is a very daring step that I don’t think most bands with progressive instruments would implore. While this may scare some people away, these vocals aren’t used often enough to deter too many potential fans.
Clearly, this band has been paying attention to the recent progressive explosion in metal over the past few years. Lead vocalist, Vince Levalois, pulls of the voice of Joey Belladonna of Anthrax mixed with a Mastodon delivery; comparatively, his other band mates concoct a platter of riffs, melodies, jazz parts, and solos more than impressive enough to make any casual listener a hardcore fan in an instant.