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It’s hard to find the right words to describe Cata9tales. It is equally challenging to write a review that would do their new album justice. I could favour their rap sensibilities and go on a two page tangent about the unorthodox–yet astounding– delivery of rapper Berkley Priest. On the other hand, I could favour their musical sensibilities and go on a two page ramble about the adept musical backdrop; courtesy of musical everyman, Kreator (Kenny Perkins.)
Cata9tales’ new album; “A Chameleon’s Dream” is a great title; for it perfectly encompasses what the juggernaut duo is all about. Shapeshifting. Changing their colors and blending in with any surrounding that they choose. You will definitely find that to be the case as you listen with wide eyes and open ears.
Berkley Priest is a rapper with the delivery of a rocker or metalhead. He throws down his lyrics like a merciless jackhammer, growling and yelling with a near ‘metal’ flair. And believe me, the rhymes come fast and hard. You’d be stumped to find someone as passionate and aggressive in the rap genre as Berkley. You also may find yourself thinking back to the glory days of The Beastie Boys. At least, that’s what happened to me. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not all aggressive attitude. Berkley is as diverse as he is aggressive. In a few of the songs, he keeps it cool and smooth like silk, making me recall much of the nineties hip hop alumni, like Warren G, Snoop, Eazy E, etc. But then again, he’ll also have you thinking of guys like Zack DeLarocha.
Kreator (Kenny Perkins) is the other half of Cata9tales, and he provides the meat and potatoes for Berkley to drizzle the gravy on. This album is chock full of funky bass; catchy, infectious percussion that will have you moving your head; funky, wah infused guitar lines and smooth keyboard sequences; not a mention a wide sprawl of clever samples like a snippet from Nirvana’s “Love Buzz”, another from Portishead, as well as some nostalgic one liners from classic eighties films like Back to The Future. The samples are a huge standout element in the music as to how they’re utilized.
Berkley and Kenny will obviously have touring musicians to fill in the gaps when they play live, but this duo writes everything by themselves. Considering the scope and magnitude of this album, (Each song is only three and half minutes in length, but feels like so much more), I have to applaud these guys for laying everything down so well.
“Ghettotron” is a great example of their depth. Picture a Beastie Boys/Bone Thug’s N Harmony fusion. The music is intense and frantic, but there is a slow 4/4 heartbeat underneath that sets the pace for Berkley’s Bone Thugs-esque rhymes, which he punches through the speakers with a signature snarl.
“Ultralife” is on the other side of the coin, laying down throwbacks to Beck, K-OS, David Guetta (yikes!) and Gorillaz. It’s peppy and upbeat, with a tempo reminiscent of K-OS’s “Saturday Morning” or Outkast’s “Bombs Over Baghdad”. Berkley lets loose with a barrage of rapid fire rhymes that are downright blistering and blend perfectly with the beat.
I was pleasantly surprised by the scope of this record and, in my opinion, other aspiring artists should take note of what Cata9tales does with their music. For some, “A Chameleon’s Dream” could be a useful learning tool when it comes to writing some stellar hip hop music.
Standout Tracks: “Stronger Than Me (Amy’s Song)”, “Ghettotron”, “A Chameleon’s Dream”