Catchlight is a French progressive rock band that blends melancholic, progressive rock with elements of metal and a big dose of post rock. The band started around 2016 and released a concept album called Amaryllis the same year, an album I regrettably missed. Catchlight is a trio that consists of vocalist and guitar player Sébastien Arnaud, guitarist and synth player Arnaud Michelet and drummer Michael Holzinger. Their 2019 release Helios- Part One is another sci-fi concept album; telling the story of the survivors of an apocalypse.
The opening track Hemera, leads the way into an atmospheric post rock scene, where elements of Long Distance Calling, Phi and Mothers Of Millions already shine through. The first vocal track Extinction confirms my thoughts about the opener, the melodramatic style of Mother Of Millions definitely returns, but also references to Katatonia and Riverside pop up. Nevertheless, Extinction is a great dark composition, focussing on the composition and groove of the song, the only escapade is a furious guitar outburst at the end of the song. The positive feeling is only enhanced when Silent Ghosts appear, heavy post rock grooves and distorted vocals form the base for this wonderful track, where repeating guitar riffs, which at first remind me of Kingcrow, and gloomy vocals are joined with delicate electronics. The album's first single is Insurrection, here Sébastien's vocals really shine, combining Riverside's Mariusz Duda with Klone's Yann Ligner. As a single, this is a well-chosen composition, catchy and focussing on very strong vocal parts, this should gain the band some international attention. Nyx is a track that builds nicely from a smooth piano part to a dense atmospheric high in the end. Slightly different from the other tracks, is Cyclops. Focussing on more electronics and samples, screaming and distorted vocals, the song gives me the impression eighties wave influences have taken over. I guess it could work for the majority of listeners, for me it puts down the mood created by the previous tracks. Luckily, we have an eight minutes lasting track that finishes the album; Resurrection returns to the sphere the band had created initially. A nicely built composition where a smooth post rock start, gains on power towards a worthy end of the album.
Helios - Part One is a nice surprise, the band succeeds in creating an intriguing atmosphere and delivers a number of great compositions. Don't let my opinion of Cyclops withhold you from buying this wonderful album. I am really looking forward to Helios - Part Two.
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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