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Dead Letter Circus: The Catalyst Fire

Brisbane arena-proggers grow up on their second hit album.

Support slots with Muse and Linkin Park reflected the guitar-centric nature of the Brisbane boys’ 2010 debut This Is The Warning. The bite and choppy distortion, together with their No Fracking Way tour, showed their political inclinations.

Like fellow Aussies Karnivool, they occupy a very contemporary progressive ground — thought-crunching and alternative but reaching for the stars, built on by this broader-sounding second effort. The Catalyst Fire has a bigger, grown-up feel about it.

The Cure snaps open your eyes with edgy, sophisticated electronics before growing in intensity via impassioned, octave-surfing vocals. Slick, pensive electronic layers continue to feature heavily, with guitars moving in for a heavier hit in tracks like Stand Apart. Meshed together with hints of The Mars Volta (in their less mental moments) and introverted Tool-esque aggression, it strikes a brooding but towering note.

The only minor catch perhaps is the dominant sense of slightly pained soul-searching. But that said, if quality moodiness and cyborg progression (elevated by interesting samples and guitar edges) are what you need, this’ll probably hit the spot nicely.

Polly is Features Editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage) and writes a few things. She also writes for Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer, and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.