The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - So­phie Ben­jamin

Dead Let­ter Cir­cus Dead Let­ter Cir­cus BMG The mid-2000s were a fer­tile time for pro­gres­sive me­tal in Aus­tralia — or “tradie prog”, as it is re­ferred to by a cer­tain kind of genre snob. The 2010 de­but al­bum by Bris­bane’s Dead Let­ter Cir­cus and its 2013 fol­low-up The Cat­a­lyst Fire were bom­bas­tic state­ment pieces com­plete with stun­ning vi­su­als and thought­fully ex­e­cuted lyri­cal themes, while 2015’s Aes­the­sis was a push into ra­dio rock ter­ri­tory sub­verted by singer Kim Benzie’s dis­tinc­tive vo­cals and boldly po­lit­i­cal lyrics. Last year marked 10 years since the group re­leased its de­but self-ti­tled EP, and the band cel­e­brated the oc­ca­sion by re­leas­ing an acous­tic re-record­ing, yet this new al­bum — which, con­fus­ingly, is also self-ti­tled — is too pris­tine. Yes, Benzie’s voice soars, Ste­wart Hill’s bass play­ing rum­bles and pops, gui­tarists Luke Palmer and Clint Vin­cent keep their parts in chim­ing lock-step and drum­mer Luke Wil­liams holds it all to­gether. But its sound has been edited, quan­tised and re­fined so much that noth­ing out­side the for­mula is left to hold on to. The same tricks are used to build and re­lease ten­sion on mul­ti­ple tracks, and the lat­ter half of the al­bum is to­tally un­mem­o­rable. The one stand­out is lead sin­gle The Ar­mour You Own, which Benzie wrote for his son. Dead Let­ter Cir­cus is a band of mu­si­cians who pos­sess in­cred­i­ble amounts of skill. Un­for­tu­nately, that skill has left them stuck in a com­fort zone within the bounds of a suc­cess­ful for­mula. I hope this is just a tem­po­rary lull.

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