Dorje – ‘Catalyst’ [Full EP Review]

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Stop for a second.


This is important.

Catalyst – the latest EP from Dorje, a band who are, right now, one of my favourite rock acts in the UK – is dangerous for your face.

You may laugh, but do so at your peril.

This EP will make you gurn like a mad bastard. For its entire duration.

That’s 25.3 minutes of major-league face wreckage.

Whether the wind changes or not, you’re going to regret not preparing yourself if you fail to prepare. So, engage in a full facial-muscle workout immediately. I recommend this one; it’s pretty comprehensive.

If you’re reading this before November 6th, you’ll have plenty of time to get your face fully Dorje-ready – but if you’re reading this after that date, you’ll no doubt be insanely impatient. Chill. Willpower must prevail.

Once Catalyst drops in its entirety, and that all-important, deliciously tempting “Play” button gets pressed, you’re going to be chucked into the jaw-ruining Written, super-hench intensity topped off by a vocal that long-time Dorje followers will instantly recognise as unmistakable and fully evolved, Pokémon-style.

Many musicians would stop and plateau forever if their band dropped a single track that racked up close to 700,000 views (as the original version of third Catalyst cut Aeromancy has over the past three years), but Dorje frontman Rob “Chappers” Chapman isn’t one to rest on his laurels. This EP sees Dorje hit a whole other level – and Chappers’ vocal is a key contributor right here.

Enunciation is the name of Rob Chapman’s new vocal game – and not only has it elevated his performances to the ranks of the genuinely world-class, but it will also, again, fuck your face in. Why? Because when you start singing along, your face is going to want to act out every single syllable. This is not how people normally speak (outside of Westminster), so be sure to plan ahead.

Imagine turning up to A&E with a dislocated jaw, and explaining to the super-hot triage nurse that you did it singing along to a song. Imagine scribbling that explanation onto a piece of paper as your jaw flaps uselessly open and some thick, slimy dribble drips onto your newly-purchased Dorje t-shirt.

Not cool.

Aside from Rob Chapman’s next-level vocal skills, Written also boasts some of the sickest slap-bass you’re likely to hear this side of TesseracT. Dave Hollingworth has pretty much always been a multi-talented Jedi, but man. Wait until you hear that shit. If you’ve ever even looked at a bass in a music store window once and wondered what exactly is possible with four strings, the answer comes three minutes and nine seconds into Written.

Second track Catalyst (checkoutable via the YouTube player below) is a brilliantly paced song, a spectacularly emotional showing, and an absolute winner. Lyrics that fall somewhere in the no-man’s-land between gloriously confident love song and cathartic soul-baring stretch out over alternations between hypersyncopation and balls-to-the-wall, take-no-prisoners radio rock, striking a perfect balance between accessibility and muso-pleasing technicality.

TesseracT, Alter Bridge, Tool, Porcupine Tree, Incubus. Will they blend? Yes. Proof? Catalyst.

On to Aeromancy, Dorje’s long-serving signature tune. It’s the song that sparked everything off, an instant classic back in 2012, and a track that remains as sick and essential today as it did when it first emerged into the world. Here, it’s given a full makeover – and comparing the two versions is kind of like comparing a single Power Rangers Zord to the fully-combined Megazord (by the way – original series, obviously). Extra sharpness, grit, guts, hair, heart, balls, swagger, depth, menace, attitude – nothing held back.

Rock as it should be.

Also – insane vocal multi-tracking. And, of course, dat beatdown. And a solo that will make you do this:

jackie chan wtf

…complete with Satriani-esque harmonic squeal.


Time for a breather, in the form of fourth track All‘s intro. Lightly overdriven arpeggios lead toward a relatively low-key, almost meditative groove, a gradual build fuelled by no-nonsense lyricism, and an absolutely pummelling bridge section. Check your face by the end of this, and don’t feel embarrassed if you need to take a break. It’s perfectly understandable – and you’ll want to be loose for the final stretch.

Fans of Extreme’s Nuno Bettencourt are guaranteed to fall instantly in love with White Dove. It’s driven by an uncharacteristically vintage-flavoured riff that will haunt your Dayglo Spandex-ridden dreams for weeks on end – and it’s the sound of Dorje cutting loose and having fun. It’s also the kind of song that sparks off venue-wide pits, inspires instant singalongs, and sends punters home to immediately order a (most likely Chapman) guitar off the Internet.

From the ultra-modern to the finest of vintages, Dorje know their shit when it comes to rock. All that’s left to say is this: the words that surround these words may sound a little OTT, but I personally get bombarded with God only knows how much music in the space of a day via TMMP’s tesseract-from-Interstellar-like inbox. This image sums it up:

interstellar tesseract

…Only with bands instead of books.

My brain is constantly drowning in notes, riffs, beats, lyrics and rhythms – but with Catalyst, Dorje have still punched a ninja-fist-sized hole through all that. It’s the sound of a band who are not only talented, but also relentlessly driven to improve themselves.

This isn’t just about passion and loving what you do; it’s about not settling for “good enough” – the calling card of complacence, which is frankly the death knell of any creative career. It’s an inspiring achievement that demands and deserves any serious rock fan’s time and attention.

Until next time, take care of your face.

TMMP RATING: 100% (I can’t lie. And if you disagree, you don’t deserve ears. Essential Fucking Listening!)

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Posted on 30 September 2015

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