The debut album from Boston based me(n)tal patients Autocatalytica is almost beyond description. If you pick a dichotomy, light/heavy, fast/slow, stable/unstable for example, it will apply to this record.
Each track will hit you like a wall of sound at times. Opener ‘Oxygonical‘ jams in with dissonant, droning feedback before it slaps you in the face with some inhumanly fast drumming. It is an utterly glorious mess of riffs upon riffs, stabbing rhythms and rasping, unhinged vocals. Comparison between Autocatalytica and Dillinger Escape Plan have been made in past and while they’re right to a certain extent, this doesn’t quite capture how disparate some of the elements are. Think Mutation with some of the flair of Kvelertak and you aren’t even in the right sport, let alone ballpark.
The fantastically named ‘Thunder Squirrel‘ is a slowly building, multi-layered affair with some excellent drum fills and a more standard rock riff anchor that gives you something to grasp onto before you’re carried away by a messy breakdown that gives way into a clean guitar, jazz influenced section.
‘Russian Pharmaceuticals‘ instantly drops in hard before pulling back into a creepy section with lashings of cymbal shimmer, a funky riff building over the drums that then morphs into tar-thick, sludgy chords. There’s some blurry, dizzying guitar soloing and a focus more towards the vocals, with some interesting cleans and some death metal inspired growls. ‘Dweller on the Threshold‘ is a different beast from any of the previous, with a more mid-tempo, doomy, euro-metal focused tint that gives way into some vulnerable and uplifting vocal and guitar melodies, with touches of lush acoustic work.
Overall, it’s the latter track and ‘Toxic Rodent Waterfall‘ (wtf, honestly) that really stand out. The closing track runs with a nice, bass heavy groove and some really well executed vocal harmonies. There’s an uplifting tone throughout, even with all the balls-out heavy, and it is simply fantastic to listen to.
Make no mistake, this is not an accessible album. There is precious little for the casual listener to grab onto, and Autocatalytica fucking well like it that way. For the more discerning fan, this is pretty vital, energetic and rewarding stuff. Be warned, however, this is the sound of madness distilled.