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 (