Autocatalytica – Powerclashing Maximalism

Rating: 5/5
Distributor/label: Self-Released
Released: 2020
Buy Album: https://autocatalytica.bandcamp.com
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/Autocatalytica

Band line-up:

Drums on tracks 1,2,3,4,5 & 7 by Neilroy Miranda
Screams on tracks 1,2,3 & 5 by Gary Walsh
Clean Vocals, lyrics on tracks 1,3 & 5 by Scott Carruthers
Clean Vocals, lyrics on track 2 by Devlin Flynn
Clean Vocals on track 7 by Amy Beth Anders
Saxophone on track 4 by Derek Serbin
Violin on tracks 1 & 2 by Laura C. Bates
Guitar Solo on track 1 by Jeffrey Corcoran
All other guitar, bass, drums & vocals recorded at home by Eric Thorfinnso

Tracklisting:

1. Borndun
2. Zippler
3. Trash Serum
4. Cheggo
5. Dukka Dukka
6. Bananas Have Potassium
7. Crawboi
8. Graveo

Review:

Autocatalytica are a mathcore band with jazz, avant-garde and progressive influences who will be self-releasing their third album ‘Powerclashing Maximalism’ on October 16th. Metal Hammer have described the release as ‘a bewildering, cross-pollinated sound that makes The Dillinger Escape Plan sound like Nickelback’. Showing their sophistication, the group have a strong connection to classical music with an arrangement of Debussy’s ’Tarantelle Styrienne’ featuring on their debut album. They are for fans of Devin Townsend, Meshuggah, and Protest the Hero. 

Well, well, well. After all these years, and after over 200 album reviews, something I never believed would happen, has – I will be giving a perfect five star review! With PM, right from the start, the listener is completely bombarded with ultra low pitched guitar riffing that is adrenaline pumping whilst intriguing and perhaps curiously baffling, at the same time. Expect rhythms that surprise! On top of that is some guitar shredding that is virtuosic yet melodic and then after the rageful shouting, tuneful vocal lines enter! Maximalism is a perfect word to the describe the album as you really do get everything. These masses of ideas simply never stop in the LP.

The second track ‘Zippler’ has vocal melodies that are adventurous yet catchy and great to sing along to. These contrasts are far from easy to pull off, showing the musician’s incredible songwriting and performance abilities. Every song has something (at least) special about it and the music is both easy to get into with its fascinating and welcome new take on its genres, yet has a long lifespan due to its relative lack of repetition. But don’t think the music is at all underdeveloped – yet another couple of traits that don’t often go together. The relatively mild-toned, overdriven riffing in ’Cheggo’ is very complicated, both in terms of its performance and note choices. It is more jazz-fusion styled and leaves the listener in a fascinated daze. There are a LOT of notes to take in!

‘Dukka Dukka’ starts off with some exciting clean guitars which build more and more into a distorted fury and it’s not even over the top! The fact there’s so much drama which doesn’t even sound the slightest bit silly is yet ANOTHER trait of the album that is almost unbelievable. The interestingly named ‘Bananas Have Potassium’ has much ‘nicer’ acoustic playing that works as a break from all the craziness. Amazing chops are combined with unexpected and clever chord changes that prove the musicians know their music theory very well. Accompanying it to varying degrees are sweet strings, dreamy vocals and a mixture of light and rock drumming, creating a further welcome fusion.

‘Crawboi’ takes the jazziness to another level with its chilled out chords and genuinely beautiful and creative female vocals that consist of a range of melodic intervals that are very well thought out, and not ambitious for the sake of it. They often bring to mind Pink Floyd in terms of atmosphere. ‘Graveo’ is a calm and thoughtful end to the album with its re-emerging acoustic guitar playing and light strings backing. It’s very fitting, because the listener really does need time to think to himself after such an intense and prolonged sonic assault. You could compare the album to a crazy rollercoaster ride that’s so insane, you don’t even know how to react afterwards. But don’t think the last track is boring! Nope, it has a classical sophistication to it and a bitter sweet sadness.

In conclusion, if you combine the modern, masterful and unpredictable prog of Tesseract with the adventurousness and epic nature of Opeth (and make them both more intense), you get Autocatalytica. In my opinion this is a rarely flawless album and is very strongly recommended listening for all metal heads. I really can’t think of a single thing I’d change. It will probably be too chaotic for fans of the FAR milder prog rock bands of the past such as Yes and Rush, but if such people opened their minds a little and had some migraine tablets ready, just in case, who knows? Maybe they’d love it too. Holy moly!

Review by Simon Wiedemann
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