Monday, September 22, 2003

Review: Catch 22 - Awaken (2003)

Catch 22 [ Website | MySpace ]
Molten Metal

Looking for a solid album of in-your-face, no-bullshit American power metal? Do bands like Iced Earth and Jag Panzer get your headbanging juices flowing? Then get off your ass and buy a copy of Awaken, Catch 22's third release. Bursting forth from Marietta, Ohio, this four-piece has packaged thirteen raw and powerful tunes together in an album that warrants a position in Harvest Moon's Top 10 Albums of 2003.

Aside from the ferocious rhythm section, chugging riffs, and soaring leads, what impresses me most about Awaken is the intelligent songwriting of mainman & guitarist T.J. Berry. Whether the subject matter is government corruption or the rising tide of metal, Berry pens lyrics that are well-crafted and thoughtful. His vocal delivery is no less impressive with a style that fits perfectly with the music - aggressive, hard-edged, and strong.

Awaken kicks off in a powerful way with "Betrayal of the Masses", a call to arms to change the status quo of government corruption. T.J. growls the lyrics with stirring conviction and delivers a searing guitar solo. In addition to T.J.'s vocals and leads, the song is powered by the memorable riffing of D. Hall and Andy Brookhart's complex drumming. "Form" follows right on the first track's heels and delivers again in a big way. While not as memorable, the chugging riffs are powerful and call out for some serious headbanging. Religious (Christian) corruption is the subject of this song, with the well-crafted lyrics snarled with genuine emotion. T.J. throws in a couple of soaring leads and solos for good measure, making "Form" one of the many highlights of the album. Catch 22's showcase song is "Into the Black". Berry presents his introspective lyrics with his remarkable strength of conviction while transcending the multi-ranged ability of his voice. From snarls to screams, you can literally feel what he's singing. Musically, the song contains many time changes and altered moods yet they're so well-blended and balanced that the song can truly be considered a master composition. Elements of Sabbath-y doom and Dream Theater prog bubble to the surface at points throughout the song (Bassist Mike Allen stands out here with some really ominous bass lines), but the hard-edged aggression that is Catch 22's signature style remains the constant.

With Awaken, Catch 22 have declared that they're ready for a breakthrough to the elite ranks of the American power metal scene. They have the talent, the energy, the drive, and (most importantly) the songwriting ability to hold their own with the likes of Iced Earth and Jag Panzer.

Track Listing
1 Betrayal of the Masses
2 Form
3 Damaged
4 The Suffering
5 Into The Black
6 Blood on the Bricks
7 Awaken
8 Lost
9 Wicked from the Womb
10 Underneath
11 ...As Twilight Descends
12 The Otherside
13 Face Your Fate (The Calling)

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