Every now and then, you come across an album that reminds you why you fell in love with a certain kind of music. The Valveenus’ newest album, Catalyst, is a perfect example of that. It properly captivates the Irish folk-influenced punk rock of artists like Flogging Molly and The Real McKenzies, while still sounding unique. There’s so much energy and testosterone to this album that I could feel hair growing on my chest as I was listening to it.
The album starts off with a famous quote from Elvis Presley about rock and roll music, and how you can’t help but move to it. After the twelve-second recording, the music starts, and a guitar riff that screams Dropkick Murphys hits you full force, along with a fast punk beat and power chords. The raunchy vocals come shortly after, followed by some solid vocal harmonies. “Hold On Me” wastes no time showcasing everything the band has to offer, and things don’t slow down until much later.
A big highlight of the album for me was their cover of “Sounds Of Silence.” I won’t lie, I laughed out loud when I heard the opening lyrics, “Hello darkness my old friend.” A folk-punk album was the last place I’d expect to hear Simon & Garfunkel, and I thought it was for comedic purposes at first, considering how much it threw me off. They took it seriously, though, and did an incredible job with it, showing off the vocalists’ talents with the use of some good harmonies that worked well with the high tempo that shortly followed. Punk covers are usually hit or miss for me, but this one hits the nail right on the head. Moving down the track list, the second half of the album is filled with some ridiculously fast two-minute songs that continuously deliver, and things don’t slow down again until the last song, “After All,” which is another one of my favourites. The five-minute track starts out with a clean tremolo guitar, which is a nice change from the aggressiveness of previous songs. It slowly builds up, and after a kickass guitar solo, things slow back down and bagpipes are introduced. It’s very reminiscent of an old-school Dropkick Murphys song, and it’s definitely a strong way to end such an incredible album.
In short, Catalyst has balls. The non-stop energy from start to finish, aggressive vocals, and crunchy guitars provides a great introduction to those unfamiliar with the genre. On the other hand, if you’re already a fan of bands like Dropkick Murhpys, Flogging Molly, The Real Mackenzies, or any other hard-hitting folk/punk group, you’re sure to appreciate this album.
Written by Mathieu Perrier
*edited by Kate Erickson