By: John Sturm

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Released on November 6, 2015 via Independent

Dorje are one of the UK’s best kept secret. Well…. they were until they went ahead and released this absolute cracker of an EP, Catalyst. It seems that people are actually starting to wake up to the monstrously talented band (we’ll talk iTunes charts a bit later). One of the many excellent things about Dorje, is that they answer the question of what would a band sound like if it was comprised of four virtuoso musicians with an ear for a tune, a feel for groove and a fist to smash out a riff. Hyperbole? I think not.

‘Written’ opens the EP with an off kilter riff that snakes and grooves with a swagger normally found in a boogie-woogie blues band. It absolutely sets out the Dorje stall; insomuch as it’s heavy, progressive and melodic. The breakdown slinks into view bringing a sense of drama with it. With its tinges of Incubus, ‘Catalyst is a more atmospheric tune with its melodic opening and verse that gives way to a heavier chorus. Deftly showing that even if your band is made up of musicians who make the rest of us weep and put our instruments away in defeat, not every song needs to be a virtuoso demonstration of talent. It’s a restrained rock track (and that’s not a negative thing) demonstrating that there are more weapons in the collective Dorje arsenal.

‘Aeromancy’ is a song that I suspect is a bit of a belter in a live show. Its vocal line seemingly perfect for a mass singalong plus it has a middle section that screams for a guitar duel and a breakdown about a minute before the end of the song that actually broke a little bit of my mind, it was so crushing. If that doesn’t start a moshpit of biblical proportions, I don’t know what will. Penultimate track ‘All’ is a brooding slithery track that allows Rob Chapman’s vocals to move to the forefront, both mournful and angry, there’s a menacing atmosphere to this song, there’s aggression bubbling away under the surface that finally gets to break through after building to a peak. And whilst this anger is, in terms of the playing, restrained (there’s no Slayer-esque pummelling here) it’s nevertheless a release and seethes through your speakers. The EP closes with ‘White Dove’ a song that doffs its hat towards Extreme (Nuno Bettencourt being a particular favourite of guitarist Rabea Massaad’s). It’s a wonderfully funky, head-nodding, toe-tapping track. The band displaying chops that ensure they’re not just labelled as a “metal” band. Speaking of chops…..

As their various official YouTube channels show, this is a band without a weak ling, musically. All four members are masters of their art. But what’s so good about this EP (one of the many things….) is that the key focus is the song. Dorje could have easily gone off into prog metal wankery with a bajillion notes per bar and time changes that feature fractions, and whilst the technical abilities are evident throughout the EP; melody, groove and actually tunes are the focus here. There are riffs, there are harmonies, solos that’ll make you air guitar with aplomb. And it’s all wrapped up in a song. The longest song on the EP is ‘White Dove’ and even that doesn’t go over 6 minutes. Rob Chapman has a voice that is a hybrid of Chris Cornell, Eddie Vedder and Layne Staley. It’s both smooth and rich yet he can produce a gravelled harsh tone when the song requires it. Dave Hollingworth (bass) and Ben Minal (drums) form the tightest rhythm section this side of Butler and Ward. No matter what the guitars are doing, Ben and Dave underpin it all. And the guitars…. oh the guitars….. both Chappers and Bea are breath-taking. The creativity of riffs, sounds, textures, aural landscapes…. I am genuinely struggling to think of a band that encapsulates so much talent yet writes such outstanding material.

If there is any justice in the world, Dorje will go from strength to strength. All the signs are there: this EP went to number 1 in the iTunes Top 40 Rock Albums chart, a collective 4 million YouTube hits per month, successful tours with InMe and The Drills and with this batch of songs in their back pocket…… well really how can they NOT grow bigger and gain more fans. But, listen, don’t take my word for it. Download this EP and hear for yourself. Even better, go and support the band by buying a ticket to a gig. They’re out on tour now so take this opportunity to catch the band up close and personal. Catalyst is a phenomenal EP packed with groove and swagger and tunes you can sing. This is a band on the brink of huge things and it couldn’t have happen to a more deserving group of musicians and humans.

Now stop reading this and go check out the music.

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