CATALYST CRIME – Catalyst Crime (Album Review)

Catalyst Crime is an international cinematic symphonic metal band formed in 2017 as a project between Xandria drummer Gerit Lamm and ex Insatia vocalist Zoe Marie Federoff. Accompanied by keyboard player Jonah Weingarten (Pyramaze), guitarists Chena Roxx and Kaelen Sarakinis, as well as bass player Matt Federoff, the project soon became a band. Their self-titled debut album is due for release later this year…

…and takes the listener on a mesmeric cinematic metal journey that covers the genres of symphonic, death, and progressive metal. Featuring fifty minutes of orchestral compositions, ‘Catalyst Crime’ is a monolithic opus of outstanding beauty and elegance. Each of the twelve songs on offer is cinematic masterpieces, with the intensity at an incredible level – a level that does not dip does not falter, and does not fail! For the entire fifty minutes, you’re gonna be spellbound and awe-struck, as Catalyst Crime takes you on the most magical musical journey ever. So if you think you’re ready, then come with me, as we enter the cinematic world of Catalyst Crime

…and the highly atmospheric and crescendo building intro ‘With Only The Sun As My Witness’. And what an intro it is – two and a half minutes of tension-filled anticipation. It’s like watching a blockbuster Hollywood action movie at its most climactic moment – except that this isn’t the album’s most climactic moment! The entire album is one big climactic moment, delivered in twelve exquisitely enthralling parts, or songs as they’re more commonly known. Exquisite keyboards give life to the barnstorming ‘Projection Of My Mind’, all hard and heavy and blazing with fire and brimstone. The roaring symphonic power metal gallop comes complete with a stunning vocal performance from the band’s gorgeous singer Zoe – full of power and soaring so high… And whoa! What the fuck! Growled death metal vocals… And they’re Zoe’s vocals too! For Zoe has expanded her range – right to the opposite end of the scale. The difference between symphonic vocals and death metal growls is as far apart as chalk and cheese – the incredible achievement of the band’s singer is simply amazing. Zoe is definitely a different vocalist to the one I first heard over four years ago – and by the way, the appearance of death metal vocals on this album is far from over.

The orchestral elegance of ‘Projection Of My Mind’ is simply mind-blowing – the incredible power of the song is breathtaking, as is the entire album. For me to be this stunned after just one song is almost unheard of. This feeling of amazement has already happened once this year when I heard the new album from Australian heavy metallers Temtris, which got my vote as Album Of The Year. Well hold the phone sports fans – my vote may be about to change. The album continues forth with an air of serenity as ‘Condemn Me To Chaos’ glides in on the crest of keyboards, adopting a progressive nature as it strides on, becoming highly melodic across the infectious chorus break. With a sudden upturn in aggression, ‘Mother Dearest’ is a ferocious onslaught of symphonic death metal, with an aggressive growled vocal performance to rival the legendary Angela Gossow (ex Arch Enemy). ‘Mother Dearest’ is not entirely all death metal, a switch to a symphonic metal with clean vocals happens more than once – with the seamless transition an effortless one.

A menacing mid-tempo feel descends over the album, as ‘Twice Upon A Time’ swaggers into sight, featuring the most symphonic metal vocal performance heard so far. The energy oozing from ‘Twice Upon A Time’ is phenomenal. In fact, the energy level of all albums so far has been at the top of the scale. And there’s no sign of it slipping down either – rocketing right off the scale with the thundering ‘Cognitive Dissonance’. Featuring guest vocalist Jake E (Cyhra), ‘Cognitive Dissonance’ is a melodic symphonic power metal monster – the contrast between female and male vocals adding a new dimension to the album – not to mention the Catalyst Crime sound. A sound that cannot be pigeonholed into just one genre of metal. The band’s sound transcends genres, heavily rooted in symphonic metal, but awash with so many other influences too. What a listen! What an album!! And it’s only halfway through!!!

With a heavier feel than anything that has gone before, ‘Break Even’ hits like a fierce thunderstorm – loud and menacing with phenomenal energy. The vocals soar to their highest level ever, the chorus so catchy you’ll be singing along before you know it – “break-even, body, and mind, find Eden, I am your kind”. Incredible stuff from a band that only came into existence a few years ago. But when you look at the band’s line-up, you realize just how much talent and creativity are on show. Every band member has had past success, all coming together from different countries to attain one common goal – to deliver the perfect album. And although the album is still five songs from finishing, ‘Catalyst Crime’ is well on its way to becoming a perfect album.

Hitting the heady heights of serenity, the hymn-like keyboard-driven ballad ‘Chasing The Ghost’ is a phenomenal composition. The soaring vocals are stunning, the atmosphere simply epic, and the reined-in energy can be felt. After all, music is a feeling, and the feeling I get from this album is giving me goosebumps, making the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, and soaking my entire body with euphoric enjoyment. There are many pleasures in life, with Catalyst Crime‘s debut ranking high among them. Pounding and pummelling, ‘Nowhere Near Dead Yet’ is a heavy foot stomp of mid-tempo power metal, the beautiful symphonic metal vocals, once again complemented by Zoe’s newfound talent for death metal growls – the ferocity of the growls scaring the fuck out of me! Four years ago I was stunned by how beautiful and angelic her “symphonic metal” voice was – now I find myself stunned once more by how deep, menacing, and aggressive laden her “death metal” voice is. What an incredible singer Zoe is – remember her name, for Zoe Marie Federoff will surely become one of metals greatest singers. So look out the likes of Tarja Turunen, Floor Jansen, Anette Olzon, Simone Simons, Angela Gossow, and Alissa White-gluz – there’s a new sheriff in town looking for blood.

Keyboards have played a prominent part across the album, as has every other instrument, and in the mighty shape of ‘Without Anaesthesia’ the well-oiled machine is running smoothly – Catalyst Crime turning up the heat and pounding the pavement hard. ‘Without Anaesthesia’ is an incredibly powerful power metal romp. The symphonic element of the band’s sound only heightens an already top-notch song. With the final song looming large over the horizon, the energy and intensity of the album remain at heights only rockets going to outer space can achieve. The album is brought to a close with the stunning ‘Not Even Once’ – weaving a thunderous path through the symphonic metal genre. Mid-tempo, mid-paced, and featuring the most infectious chorus on the entire album, ‘Not Even Once’ brings the curtain down on perfection. That’s right – perfection. Not only is the album perfect, but the vocal display of lead singer Zoe is one of the biggest surprises I have ever come across. Her voice is as stunning as her looks, with a range wider than the smile across my face.

But wait – there is one more song to enjoy. And when I say the song, I actually mean the instrumental outro ‘One And Counting’, complete with what sounds like monks chanting, and the return of the climactic Hollywood action movie feel of the album’s intro. And is the title of the outro a little prophetic…? Maybe an indication of what is to come…? Does ‘One And Counting’ mean “here’s our first album with many more to come”…? I do hope so. But for now, the debut album from Catalyst Crime is also my vote for Album Of The Year.

Overall, a perfect album of melodic symphonic power metal, ‘Catalyst Crime’ is highly recommended and a must-have addition to your metal collection.

Catalyst Crime: Facebook

Release Year: 2021
Label: Massacre Records
Category: Album
Country: Germany / Canada & USA

Reviewed by Iron Mathew for Frenzy Fire, Metal Gods TV, and Metal-Roos.

6 out of 5