Catalyst - The Age Of Rocketeers

I had the pleasure of reviewing this Prog Melodeath group back in 2022 with their EP, and it seems they’ve wasted no time with finally releasing a full length album for 2023. For those who don’t know, Catalyst is a 5 piece from Belgium and have been active since 2018. Relatively unknown but with a solid sound, their latest album “The Age Of Rocketeers” is not really the typical Melodeath album one would expect. While drawing on the influences of the dual vocal approach with harsh and clean along the likes of Soilwork or Sortout, these guys actually almost sound more in the vein of Progressive Power Metal Melodeath, similar to Into Eternity. The album is very guitar melody and vocal heavy, with some electronics here and there, but whereas their EP previously was drum heavy, it seems the band has shifted a bit more for the typical structure, which is not a bad thing.

There is heavier use of clean vocals here on this album- the more Devin Townsend style- so don’t expect the deep, darker tones that one would get from Stanne of Dark Tranquillity. ‘Your Struggle’ sets the tone for some soaring vocal work but opens with some quiet, foreboding prog work before the harsh vocals come in and the explosive guitar work. Catalyst is very good about going about a seamless swap between heavier and softer sections, though the softer bits are more guitar focused whereas on the previous EP there was more piano and keyboard sections. Other tracks like ‘Solace’ are more straightforward Melodeath with grinding guitars, a healthy dosage of harsh roars, and a little bit more of a backseat to the clean vocals. Again, the music is very guitar and vocal focused along with percussive thunder of the drums, but compared to the opening track some might find it a little boring and not a prog oriented as they may like, or if they heard the 2nd EP before.

One thing that Catalyst seems to have leaned more towards is an Avatar approach of the music structure; before they had a little bit of Metalcore tinges to their music, but with the way the harsh vocals sound and even the cleans along with some guitar melodies, some might feel they are hearing tracks from an album like “Hail the Apocalypse” (especially with ‘Constructed Truth.’) While there isn’t quite the ‘wildness’ to it that Avatar has, it is s step up from Catalyst’s original sound, and a further expansion on their Melodeath elements, so fans will be excited to hear it, especially if they aren’t the biggest Metalcore fans or felt their previous albums were a bit too all over the place. For those who want the more ‘out there’ tracks Catalyst have reined in their randomness a bit more, but ‘SpaceWaste’ serves as an ambient, almost spacey lull that takes a break from the heavier sections. That is pretty much it though for any break as the album continues to pummel in Melodeath fashion, which is does for the next 3 tracks.

While the lack of Prog elements might disappoint ‘longtime’ fans, most original listeners and even new fans will enjoy the solid overall Melodeath approach from Catalyst. The harsh vocals are crisp and yet easily understood, and the clean vocals do their best to add the progressive elements, and the soaring tones on the closing ‘Rocketeer’ prove this, especially when they can beat out the guitars which are one of the loudest features. Overall production is very solid though so everything comes across clear. Catalyst surely will impress on their debut and though the album is a little short “The Age Of Rocketeers” has some very memorable chorus lines that get stuck in the head along with aggressive guitar patterns that are highly melodic and should become a staple listen for anyone who enjoys Melodic Metal or Melodeath in general.

4 / 5 STARS

1. Your Struggle
2. Stick To The Plan
3. Solace
4. Constructed Truth (Pravda!)
5. C.R.I.S.P.R.
6. Spacewaste
7. Fire In The Engine Room
8. Take The Torch
9. Rocketeer

Reviewer: Colin McNamara
Nov 28, 2023

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