Review Summary: Dredg manages to make an overall scary experience sound so beautiful.
All the same. Everyone goes to sleep and everyone dreams. However, no one expects to sleep paralysised for a moment, see visions of an incubus, and hear the eerie sound of bees in your ears. Dredg manages to make an overall scary experience sound so beautiful. As a progressive concept album, it has a natural sense of flow practically unseen in albums nowadays. Driven by a compelling vision for an original idea, soothing yet powerful vocals, and beautiful music, El Cielo is an absolute triumph.
El Cielo is heavily influenced by a painting created by Salvador Dali. This painting is supposed to depict a literal interpretation of sleep paralysis and the visions or dreams you have accompanying it . The album has incredibly well done interludes that they appropriately named brushstroke. As you listen to the album, it is almost as if a painting is being created as you listen to it. A couple of songs play and then you work on the painting a little more with a stroke of your paintbrush. It's quite an amazing and original idea I've never heard of in music and it really works.
Usually climaxes in a song result in huge crescendos with soaring guitars and powerful vocals. However, on El Cielo most of the climaxes happen at the quieter moments. Sanzen is the perfect example because it has all of this beautiful build up to a sound of what seems to be the noise you hear during sleep paralysis. Then it immediately cuts to somber guitar and blaring horns in the background. The same can be said for Same Ol Road. The vocals claim to be repeating a certain event which is likely sleep paralysis. The guitar riff is inspiring and everything else is original. However, the climax happens when Gavin humbly preaches about how "all we need is a modest house in a modest neighborhood" and how we must be strong. The climax contains strong vocalizing I've never heard before and the whole album contains unusual sounds that really work. Triangle contains the same vocalizing, but it's a bit more mesmerizing than Same Ol Road. It's quite a wonder to behold.
Some of the lyrical content on El Cielo is actually quite straightforward to the concept. Convalescent speaks about how you don't know until you've been through the experience and Scissor Lock is about the experience happening to you. Scissor Lock never really climaxes, but it makes the whole experience sound appealing with Gavin expertly delivering the line, "I too once though the radio played, let's act like children while we sleep paralysised."
The band's performance as a whole is breathtaking and extremely mature for a second outing. They all play their instruments expertly and Gavin's vocals are highly appropriate to each song. He rarely reaches for high notes, but on this particular album he doesn't need to hit them to deliver an ultimate experience. However, he does hit some awesome high notes on It Only Took A Day. The vocals and guitar are the driving on the album, but that is not to say the drums and bass take a back seat. Each is consistent and expertly played. Dredg doesn't have the heavy angsty sound of Tool or the psychedelic sound of Pink Floyd. They have a sound of their own that they still keep on this album to this day. Any fans of progressive rock should definitely pick this one up because it is a work of art that to this day still remains unrecognized by the music industry. It's quite a shame...
-Same Ol Road
-Sorry But It's Over
-It Only Took A Day