dredg
El Cielo


3.5
great

Review

by Mike Allen USER (107 Reviews)
April 3rd, 2010 | 65 replies | 5,214 views


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Great, but flawed.

11 of 11 thought this review was well written

Of all of the beloved sputnik records that I have never fully understood all of the classic ratings for, none have been quite as frustrating as dredg’s “El Cielo.” The band’s most acclaimed release has been described as “flawless,” “crafted beautifully in every aspect,” and “absolutely essential.” In actuality, the album is none of these things. In fact, for dredg’s second full-length release to be compared to progressive masterpieces such as “In the Court of the Crimson King” and “Wish You Were Here” is puzzling. There is no denying that “El Cielo” is meticulously developed with some tremendous music. This is by far, the feature that stands head and shoulders above the rest for dredg. Progressive interludes and immense technical skill is something to be admired in the band’s music; at times powerful and awe-inspiring. “El Cielo” however, seems to be in a constant battle with inconsistency. While a number of tracks on the record appear to live up to its billing (The Canyon Behind Her, Sanzen), several fail to establish the cohesiveness that it is often associated with, presenting the ideal that the release is far from a perfect one.

While passion has proved to be music’s most significant quality, “El Cielo” appears to be lacking the impact that other “classics” contain. Lead singer Gavin Hayes has a rather pedestrian and droning voice to say the least, that weighs the record down a great deal. Hayes does demonstrate some significant range, but overall does not utilize his vocals properly; never appearing tense or even angry. Hayes never lashes out or gives the listener the impression that he is fervent over his lyrics. What elevates his performance however, are the soaring harmonies that are featured in various points in the record. Sanzen is Hayes at his best; shifting to a high octane pitch in the chorus to create a chilling harmony. The devastating Sorry But It’s Over seems to bring out the opposite though, for Hayes’ vocals are neither passionate nor stimulating in any regard, and ruin what is a musically brilliant track. Rather mundane songwriting does not help the process, for Convalescent is plagued with lyrics such as, “Maybe you’ve never seen it, maybe you’ve never been through it. It’s the only way to understand it.” Arguably the concept’s most significant track Scissor Lock, is presented as a half-baked written song that utilizes shoddy similes such as “buzzing white noise, it sounds like 100 bees.” “El Cielo” is beleaguered by these lines throughout, both weakening the concept and making it difficult to take seriously at times.

For every dull moment in “El Cielo” however, are musically dazzling tracks such as The Canyon Behind Her. This inconceivable closer is technically proficient and perfectly crafted, as it is mounting with both tension and emotional impact until its final blow; a massive chorus of harmonies that seems to complete the record in epic fashion. Unfortunately, nothing else on the record seems to even come close to the stunning finale, and therefore actually dilutes the poignant effect the song is intended to have.

Maybe I’m missing the point with “El Cielo,” but dredg’s critically glorified release is presented with enough flaws to prevent it from reaching anything close to “classic” status. Massive sound, sweeping harmonies, and unique musical structuring is what illustrates the brilliance in dredg, but the band appears to be incapable of producing an album of that magnitude. The criticism is placed in the hands of front-man Gavin Hayes, who comes off as an ordinary songwriter and talented, but detached vocalist. Dredg’s second full-length release certainly contains enough virtuoso material to be considered a great album, but is lacking in several of the aforementioned areas to live up to its reputation.

Recommended Tracks:
Sanzen
Triangle
It Only Took a Day
Whoa Is Me
The Canyon Behind Her



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user ratings (1433)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
EVedder27
April 3rd 2010



6088 Comments


Oh no he didn't

Romulus
April 3rd 2010



8423 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Oh no you didn't!

Pos'd.

PayneTiger777
April 3rd 2010



4388 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is a great review, but I don't agree with it. This is my second favorite album of all time.

Ponton
Emeritus
April 3rd 2010



5790 Comments


I also have trouble getting into this one. Same Ol Road is a great track though, good review

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
April 3rd 2010



15620 Comments


couldn't agree more with the review

Digging: Low Roar - 0

EVedder27
April 3rd 2010



6088 Comments


Thanks guys. I know it seems dumb to attack the vocals, but they really do destroy this for me.

Romulus
April 3rd 2010



8423 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Maybe you've never heard vocals like this... maybe you've never been through them? It's the only way to understand them.

EVedder27
April 3rd 2010



6088 Comments


idk it just seems like there is no emotion in his voice. With a record that is supposed to have that emotional impact I just don't see it.

Romulus
April 3rd 2010



8423 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Don't worry I get you. That's the line from Convalescent you quoted. No worries.

Greggers
April 3rd 2010



2375 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Aw Mike, why you gotta be like that?

Good review; disagree completely, pos'd.

EVedder27
April 3rd 2010



6088 Comments


@ rom Oh shit yeah. haha

Thanks greg. Just had to be done.

porch
April 3rd 2010



8453 Comments


Nice review, pretty much sums up my thoughts on this

Skimaskcheck
April 3rd 2010



2360 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review as per usual man, a different take on this was necessary.
The Canyon Behind Her is just incredible, as is Same Ol' Road of course.
You put 'The Canyon Beyond Her' a couple of times though, just pointing that out

SmurkinGherkin
April 3rd 2010



1769 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

still find this boring

EVedder27
April 3rd 2010



6088 Comments


Thanks for pointing that out Skimascheck.

Greggers
April 3rd 2010



2375 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

THOUGH HALF OF ME IS GONE
THE LONESOME PART IS LEFT
I CANNOT FIND THE OTHER HALF



SeaAnemone
April 3rd 2010



19955 Comments


it's weird how we feel EXACTLY THE SAME. That being said The Canyon Behind Her is a pretty perfect song, posalicious.

Digging: Natural Snow Buildings - The Night Country

EVedder27
April 3rd 2010



6088 Comments


Why thank you Eric. I think it's because we are JUST THAT AWESOME.

AnotherBrick1
April 3rd 2010



712 Comments


i understand your complaint on the vocals but i think that it fits the overall vibe of the album perfectly. i gave this a 5 as well and is easily in my top 10. This album has one of the greatest closers ever, the last 3 tracks are all incredible and probably my 3 favorite songs on the album.

even though i disagree with your rating, you get a pos just for justifying yourself, well done.

klap
Staff Reviewer
April 3rd 2010



10307 Comments


nicely done

Digging: Literature - Chorus



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