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Dorje – Catalyst Award winner

by Andrew Sifari at 02 June 2016, 1:51 PM

Plenty of people are waiting with bated breath for the next TOOL record, and while I can’t blame them, I sometimes feel compelled to remind folks that there are other bands putting forth challenging, Alternative-tinged Metal of comparable quality. Don’t believe me? Then you’re likely to miss out on killer acts like DORJE, whose new EP “Catalyst” is heavy and technical while rocking in all the right places.

The band has been around since 2012, formed initially as a side-project of front-man and guitarist Rob Chapman. The band’s sound has obvious roots in the Alternative/Grunge genres; you can hear bits of TOOL and ALTER BRIDGE in their dynamic, rhythmic chugging and colorful melodic soundscapes. The titular offering shows off the band’s controlled, confident approach in style with its sterling guitar work, with Rabea Massaad going full Nuno Bettencourt (not the only time either) for a solo towards the song’s midsection. Chapman is really excellent as a vocalist, reminding this reviewer of former NEVERMORE vocalist Warrel Dane on at least a few occasions; especially on the deceptively heavy and progressive “All,” which sounds like exactly the kind of song the aforementioned Metal icon would sing on. His voice has a great range that is capable of delivering exactly what each song needs, from somber, reflective moments to emotional, hard-hitting parts.

DORJE is awash in musical talent, but the band members really excel as songwriters, working through a variety of moods and shifts in tone while staying true to the EP’s fundamental sound. “Written” starts off with this really dirty, freewheeling riff that absolutely oozes attitude with its drop-tuned riffing in a way that’s somewhat reminiscent of old-school Blues-Rock. The rhythms shift from rolling and loose to battering and back again, while the riffs similarly alternate from seemingly simple and brash to technical and aggressive without missing a beat. While I’m at it, I’ll double-down on my previous EXTREME comparison, which the band earn with their superb ability to play grooving rhythmically-muscular songs not unlike those Boston-based 80/90s heroes; hints of which you can hear on closer “White Dove”, which sends the album out on an appropriate note with its high energy and ballsy attitude.

Catalyst” is a great first offering from a superbly talented band that hits the sweet spot between challenging and accessible music. It is driving and heavy at some moments, personal and emotive at others, but one thing it never is, is boring. I’d recommend it highly to anyone who digs any of the aforementioned bands, and melodic/Progressive Metal in general.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

  1. Aeromancy
  2. Catalyst
  3. All
  4. Written
  5. White Dove
Rob Chapman – Vocals, Guitar
Rabea Massaad - Guitar
Dave Hollingworth - Bass
Ben Minal – Drums
Record Label: Independent


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