Dead Letter Circus – The Catalyst Fire


Review by Jason Guest

From Brisbane, Queensland (in Australia of course), Dead Letter Circus have been plying their trade since 2004. Playing a number of festivals in their early days alongside such Australian heavies as Karnivool, Cog, and The Butterfly Effect (all of which are three bands well-worth checking out) as well as metal gods Judas Priest and hardcore legends Helmet gained the band much deserved recognition and acclaim. No doubt down to their distinct ability to craft melodic and catchy-as-hell alternative rock with a subtle but intelligent pop sensibility, their reputation has been growing ever since. And deservedly so. Listen to any one of their releases, whether singles, EPs, or their debut album, 2010’s This Is The Warning, and you’ll hear music that spans a number of genres with a fluency and potency that makes that curiously-christened musical genre “alternative” so interesting – at least when it’s done well. And Dead Letter Circus is a band that have been doing it well for a long time, so much so that the “alternative” tag fails to encapsulate their musical ability.

Vocalist Kim Benzie has a, frankly, compelling voice, one that is well-developed with a broad range and very well-utilised in giving his emotionally-engaging and thought-provoking lyrics a strong sense of purpose and meaning. This is of course augmented by the accomplished and articulate musicianship on display. Guitar, bass, and drums at the band’s core, the electronic aspect of the band plays as much a significant role in the band’s aesthetic, lending the passionate soundscape a colourful, dynamic, and potent edge that compliments rather than overshadows or feels like an awkward addendum. The result is eleven well-written, well-crafted, and well-produced tracks that showcase the band’s many strengths. While there are many a moment where the approach of 2010’s This Is The Warning is apparent, the band have pushed their own creative bounds, the most obvious examples being ‘I Am’ and ‘The Veil’, both tracks giving the band time to explore their musicianship while developing their structural and dynamic approach.

If you are unsure of where Karnivool are taking their music with Assymetry and are more inclined to that demonstrated on Themata or Sound Awake or what The Butterfly Effect are doing, then this is for you. But of course Dead Letter Circus have their own voice, are following their own path, and plotting a trajectory all of their own that should give them the international recognition they deserve and deliver them to that point from which they can deliver something extraordinary. Recommended.

Dead Letter Circus – The Catalyst Fire7.5 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. The Cure
  2. Alone Awake
  3. Burning Man
  4. Lodestar
  5. I Am
  6. Say Your Prayers
  7. The Veil
  8. Insider
  9. Lost Without Leaders
  10. Stand Apart
  11. Kachina