Review Summary: Raw beginnings.
In the vast world of alternative progressive music Dredg proves to be one of the bands that really stand out. Their signature sound, musicianship and fantastic use of experimental concepts cements them as a powerhouse band of the genre. El Cielo
was an undeniable masterpiece because its flawless flow, atmospheric sound and beautiful lyrics were all staggeringly mature for a sophomore LP. Unfortunately the eventual demise of Dredg came with their latest album, but they still managed to release some impressive work in between Catch Without Arms
. However, the band’s debut LP was extremely different compared to their later works and the listener gets to experience a different side of them. They certainly perfect their sound with El Cielo
, but make no mistake that Leitmotif
had a unique sound of its own.
Instead of possessing an extremely polished sound, Leitmotif
introduces an aggressively raw progressive rock sound that is uncharacteristic of Dredg. Plus the listener will surely experience a different angsty side of Gavin Hayes that is never seen again. Though Gavin’s aggressive side is not entirely perfect he certainly gets the job done quite well with some powerful performances and even some great screams thrown into the mix. The album starts off with “Symbol Song” and Gavin’s powerful performance along with some fantastic guitar riffs are sure to impress. Dino’s signature snare drum sound is also very evident and he really gets a chance to show what he’s made of throughout Leitmotif
. The only disappointing part about the band as a whole on this record is that the bass isn’t always heard in the mix of the album and this is something the band surely changes in their later works. Despite the seemingly absent bass in some parts the band delivers some well-rounded performances on Leitmotif
and there are even some Tool influences to top it all off. “Penguins in the Desert” exhibits this influence perfectly with its engrossing guitar driven vibe. “Lechium” also happens to deliver a chilled out atmospheric riff reminiscent of “Black Magic Woman” by Santana oddly enough. Make no mistake that the interludes presented on Leitmotif
also act as a focal point.
All of the interludes on Leitmotif
are appropriately titled “Movement” and not a single one of them disappoint. Each actual song flows perfectly into each movement like an ideal concept album. “Movement I” is certainly the heaviest of the interludes with some awesome drumming and compelling guitar work, but the real star of them all is “Movement III” without a doubt. Its beautiful instrumentals and seamless flow into “Penguins in the Desert” is truly stunning. Dino also gets a chance to strut his stuff in “Movement II” with his impressive snare drum shining through as expected. Bands often have a tendency to either use interludes a bit too much or just add them for the sake of extending the length of their album, but this is never the case with Dredg. Every interlude they add is always extremely well done and they most importantly always have a purpose.
Dredg barreled into the progressive rock scene with a reckless abandon and it’s raw sound certainly singled them out. Gavin’s performance as an aggressive singer is not perfect and there are some useless parts of the album like two minutes of noise at the end of “Traversing” and the mostly silent length of “Movement V.” However, Leitmotif
displayed endless amounts of potential for a band that will release a masterpiece four years later. It’s surely disappointing what the band has turned into and they have a lot of work to do in order to gain back the trust of Sputnikmusic. Despite this aspect of Dredg, we always have their amazing previous works like Leitmotif
and El Cielo
to return to.