The Catalyst - Swallow Your Teeth (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Catalyst

Swallow Your Teeth (2009)

The Perpetual Motion Machine

Swallow Your Teeth's title is less a suggestion and more a result of listening to it. The Catalyst bear a generally heavier set of crushing, cathartic, noisy hardcore on their first full-length, carrying an overall weight mightier than 2007's coy 12" EP, Marianas Trench. Sonically more suffocating and inherently more intense, this is much less obviously indebted to the early `90s forefathers who paved the Catalyst's way (Jesus Lizard, Nirvana, Unwound), incorporating more original ideas though ultimately offering the same quality of songwriting.

That being said, it's still good to hear the Catalyst stake out slightly more original territory on Swallow Your Teeth. Gravelly, rising screams and ear-catching, snotty stop-starts infect "Lars Ulrich's 1986 Funeral (It Should Have Been You)," where guitar squalls sway back and forth and distortion rears its perfectly dissonant head. After the brutal instrumental "Incidental Music," there's a definite D-beat quality to the faster, burlier "Small Town, Big Mouth." Next, "Werewolves of Washington" provides the other logical spectrum side to "Small Town, Big Mouth"; it's a brooder for sure, but it's swelling and unnerving for its six-minute course and even gets a bit like a fuzzed-out Cave In in its fifth minute (something that comes up again in "42012" with those squealing, spacey, quasi-Egyptian-sounding riffs).

Though the first half's got highlights, Swallow Your Teeth's second half doesn't slouch. More piercing feedback and spiraling riffs encircle the calculatedly manic "Sterling Is a Hole" and "Too Big to Fail" while "42012" occasionally sounds like Russian Circles dipping in a well of distortion and bass-y rumbling.

While not necessarily a giant leap, the Catalyst have taken another small step forward for their songwriting and focus with Swallow Your Teeth.

Swallow Your Teeth