Review Catalyst*R – Pace of Change – by John Wenlock-Smith

This review is for the recently released second album from Catlyst*R entitled ‘Pace of Change’. On this release we see a continued progression in their sound and ethos, with a good mixture of song lengths (three epic and four shorter tracks) which, all taken together, form an impressive sophomore release. The album is not afraid to experiment with sounds and textures ranging from gentle acoustic segments through to some hard hitting Porcupine Tree like sounds.

The album opens in style with the lengthy title track, Pace Of Change. This song offers a strong mix of almost ethereal sounds along with some very solid crunchy sections. It opens with a repeated piano note and motif, some chugging bass runs and excellent sound effects before a brutally punishing riff is unveiled. There’s strong vocals from Damien Child and great support from Gary Jeavon, who plays guitar and bass amongst other things admirably throughout, with Greg Pringle keeping everything held together with his excellent and subtle drumming and percussion. This piece is really musically strong and very powerfully delivered. Even so, it is not without its elements of light and shade, delicacy and domineering power in parts. It really is very impressive stuff and serves both as an excellent opener and a clear statement of intent to bring something new and fresh to the progressive genre. I feel they succeed here in some style, I detect elements of Marillion, Porcupine Tree and, vocally, Saga’s Michael Sadler in the mix here. As the opener is somewhat Blistering in places, unsurprisingly, they elected for a far gentler second song in Dust Within The Seams. The track is bolstered by a very busy bass part that underpins everything, along with more Saga-ish vocals and an excellent fluid guitar solo from Gary that certainly impresses. Again, the trio are making a great sound and, indeed, a fine album here, certainly something a little less expected or ordinary is on offer here. I really like this song it has agility and excellent dynamics and is a delight to hear.

Ghosts On The Radio is another strong and interesting track with a good guitar line and strong synths floating over the vocals in a most impressive manner. Homesick is the second longer track and this one has excellent keyboards along with a strong vocal and very melodic touches. It is a really good track, very good musically with especially impressive sturdy bass lines. I really like this song a lot, it’s the best so far in my opinion, especially the stunning guitar solo at the close! Unbroken is another very powerful track with a harder edge to the sound and has an excellent crunchy guitar tone in parts. This shorter piece is full of strong dynamics and melody, tempered with some powerful riffing and exciting solo parts, again, it is really impressive stuff.

Pendle Hill 1612 is the albums real epic track and tells the tale of the Lancastrian witch trials at Pendle Hill in 1612. This is a moody and slowly brooding song with strong instrumental work adding to the atmosphere. Excellent use of sound effects and timbres convey a air of malevolent darkness and add greatly to this most atmospheric track. The track doesn’t waste a second as it builds powerful to an emotional guitar solo, overall, a most well delivered and boldly imagined track and very satisfying indeed. We’ll Say Goodbye In The Rain concludes the album and, in this song, you can clearly hear the influences that years of musical theatre have impacted on Damien, not just vocally but in the sense of dynamics unveiled in this most emotionally laden song that would not be out of place in the West End Stage.

This is an album that really deserves a wider audience and fans of This Winter Machine and Ghost Of The Machine especially will find much familiar ground here as they explore a similar musical terrain. Either way, this is a very strong modern progressive rock album and certainly bodes well for more future activities in whatever form that may take. Definitely a contender for my album of the year list vote December 2024.

Released 1st March, 2024.

Order from bandcamp here:

Pace Of Change | Catalyst*R (


CATALYST*R formed during the first UK lockdown of 2020 when ex-ESP lyricist and vocalist Damien Child approached PGR for help in finding a possible collaborator. Ex-This Winter Machine composer and founding member Gary Jevon was contacted and the pair hit it off immediately. A long-distance writing partnership between London and Yorkshire began and they quickly amassed enough ideas to complete a full album. Greg Pringle (ESP, Simon Townshend and Quadrophenia) soon joined on drums/percussion.

The album showcases the various musical influences of each member and includes – but not necessarily limited to – prog, glam, electronica, northern soul, metal, big band, jazz and musical theatre!

For obvious reasons, CATALYST*R’s debut album was recorded remotely and – as yet – the band still have not physically met. Work has already begun on a follow-up album, which will – hopefully – involve spending some time in the same room as each other.

So that’s the PR stuff out of the way, sounds very interesting doesn’t it? Now let’s delve in and see what an independent music lover thinks…

Turning this review on its head, let me say straightaway that this album is really rather good indeed, a well judged melting pot of musical styles and influences perfectly blended to give us one of the most enjoyable album releases of the year so far.

From the powerful, catchy driving rock of opener Welcome to the Show, with its incendiary guitar work and dynamic percussion through to the final track Goldst*R, a totally immersive and enthralling musical experience with a narrative ghost story that invokes the spirits of M.R James and Lovecraft, CATALYST*R have created an aspiring, high-reaching album full of melody and craft, one that asks the listener questions but is accessible at the same time.

There’s the sparse loneliness and isolation of Apollo One Three with its heartfelt vocals and melancholy guitar, the Marillion-like bittersweet wistfulness of Someone Else’s Dream, where Damien’s vocals really come to the fore, it really is a beautiful song, and the hard-edged rhythms of You Against The World, that takes me back to another age with its pared back feel. The lightness of touch of the production on this album is an utter delight to hear, it feels raw and real and you feel every emotion.

The sorrowful In The Deep End is a powerfully emotive track that captures images of loss and grief through its delicately delivered plaintive vocals with the perfectly judged pensive musical accompaniment, the gracefully somber guitar solo is wonderfully judged. The stand out track among a collection of elegantly created songs is the dreamy and contemplative Immortal, a thoughtful and nostalgic delight that reminds me of 80’s AOR at its very, very best, just beautiful!

So, there you have it, another album created during lockdown, a period of explosive creativity that we haven’t seen for many a year. There have been some superb albums released this year already and, in ‘CATALYST*R’, we have another one to add to that burgeoning list. When everything that is happening around you is making your life jaded, just press play on this bewitching collection of songs, light the spark and let the music start to take your cares away…

Released 28th June, 2021.

Order the album from bandcamp here:

Catalyst*R | Catalyst*R | Progressive Gears (