Dead Letter Circus
The Catalyst Fire


3.0
good

Review

by Caleb C. USER (23 Reviews)
August 15th, 2013 | 37 replies | 1,757 views


Release Date: 08/09/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Without proper cohesion.

7 of 8 thought this review was well written

Dead Letter Circus have always sounded pretty much the same. From early the EPs to their first full length excursion This is The Warning, delay-drenched, anthemic alternative rock has been their go-to since inception. Dead Letter Circus is considerably more reliant on atmosphere then their peers, and it’s an atmosphere entirely derived from Kim Benzie’s ethereal, yet poppy vocals bending and warping around the constant echo of the guitar work. The formula is unique, lending itself to a sound quite distinctly Dead Letter Circus, and as the years have passed the formula has been fine-tuned and tweaked to near perfection.

So moving into their sophomore album The Catalyst Fire, DLC had two very viable options laid out before them. They could rest on their laurels a bit, coast on the success of This is The Warning and essentially bring fans a part two, something identical thematically to what we have already heard but still new and exciting. Or we could see them moving away from their already established ideals towards some new and try to find a new sound equally as unique as their previous.

Instead they settled smack in the middle. Gone are the vocal hooks and catchy choruses of past works and instead we are left with what I can only assume is an attempt at breaking the vocal restrictions that they placed on themselves early in the band’s lifetime. Benzie is undoubtedly exploring new options within his delivery, and for the most part he sounds completely capable. Songs ‘Burning Man’ and ‘The Veil’ have him exploring territory of near A Perfect Circle’s subtlety, while ‘Lodestar’ and ‘Say Your Prayers’ lean to a more aggressive sound only hinted at on prior works. And even through this moderate reinvention the vocals, or rather their uncomfortable clashing with the instrumentals, end up being the downfall of the record.

For the rest of the band, nothing has changed. The builds in tension, and their eventual release, are still a major part of their sound. Yet instead of vocal climaxes to match, we are left with Benzie dancing around over the whole explosion of sound that would typically indicate a chorus, leading us in a general nowhere direction. This newfound progressive slant (much like the change in Ian Kenney's vocals between Karnivool's freshman and sophmore efforts) is way beyond that of the rest of the team. As a result, the disconnect between the two styles is readily apparent and a bit jarring, especially on tracks like ‘Alone Awake’ and ‘Insider’, and it ends up creating a desire for a decision to be made.

When it comes down to it, the album certainly isn’t a complete failure. ‘Lodestar’ harkens sharply back to Dead Letter Circus’s past and ‘The Veil’ turns out to be a perfect sound for them to progress toward. The ideas moving presented from Benzie are extremely strong and the rest of the members certainly have only strengthened their songwriting with time, but without proper cohesion, The Catalyst Fire struggles to live up to the hype that its predecessors have laid out before it. Moving forward, the band needs to obtain a singular goal and make the common effort towards solidifying their style, regardless of which they choose.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
iswimfast
August 15th 2013



1127 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

imma get shit for this one. here's Lodestar:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayXRXhXHEi0

this whole thing just raises the question 'maybe he just couldn't do catchy choruses anymore?'

Digging: Chevelle - La Gargola

JS19
August 15th 2013



3617 Comments


'It’s much as if he is singing for a band much more progressive than the one he is currently heading.'

What?

Digging: Mono / World's End Girlfriend - Palmless Prayer / Mass Murder Refrain

Gard3n
August 15th 2013



271 Comments


I smell a new 1 rating in my list.

JS19
August 15th 2013



3617 Comments


If you know you're going to hate it why waste an hour of your life listening to it, or is the thrill of parading your 1 around Sputnik too much for you?

iswimfast
August 15th 2013



1127 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i can see why that seems a little weird, even though in my head it still makes sense. changed it up and threw a new reference in there. hopefully it's less disgusting.

Scoot
August 15th 2013



17477 Comments


quality listen just like the last one

Digging: Acme - To Reduce the Choir to One Soloist

iswimfast
August 15th 2013



1127 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

either i dropped the ball on this one or someone didn't like my rating. sigh.

Gard3n
August 15th 2013



271 Comments


"If you know you're going to hate it why waste an hour of your life listening to it, or is the thrill of parading your 1 around Sputnik too much for you?"

I've yet to hear the entire album. But from what I've heard it's still the same boring thing from their past album. I just wanted to see if I could finally connect with this band. But maybe I just should stop trying.

And no, I don't hate them. It's not bad music, it's just too boring. And even bad music isn't that boring.

JS19
August 15th 2013



3617 Comments


If you 1'd the last and this hasn't changed duh. And it's obvious you just want to hate this.

And iswimfast it's a nice review - I'll pos

iswimfast
August 15th 2013



1127 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

thanks bud

Gard3n
August 15th 2013



271 Comments


So, if you rate 1 it's just because you hate it. Best logic ever.

JS19
August 15th 2013



3617 Comments


No dude, the fact that you know you'll hate this, but still want to listen to it just so you can 1 it. that's the 'best logic ever'

Puzzles
August 15th 2013



3065 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

boring album, band can fuck off

greg84
Staff Reviewer
August 15th 2013



7159 Comments


The review needs some work.

From early the EP’s to their first full length > From the early EPs...

Kim Benzie’s ethereal, yet poppy, vocals > ...ethereal, yet poppy vocals

have him exploring territory near A Perfect Circle’s subtlety > have him exploring the territory of near...

The builds in tension, and its eventual release, is still a major part of their sound. > The builds in tension, and their eventual release, are still...

Digging: Triptykon - Melana Chasmata

Ecksavie
August 15th 2013



282 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album is great, ya'll need to lighten the fuck up.

thumbcrusher
August 15th 2013



3545 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

last album was great, gonna check this out soon

Underflow
August 15th 2013



2172 Comments


The singer's voice can be grating at times, but I'll give it a spin.

Digging: The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream

Puzzles
August 15th 2013



3065 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

"The singer's voice can be grating all the time"

fixed

SitarHero
August 15th 2013



4002 Comments


Pos. Good review. Haters gonna hate.

iswimfast
August 15th 2013



1127 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

im always prone to do stupid things with commas when left unchecked. thanks greg i made those changes.



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