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Dredg - Catch Without Arms CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.42 | 153 ratings

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4 stars I bought this album almost a year ago. At first, I didn't like it at all, and I was turned off from dredg. I grew to like a few of the tracks on the album, but I never really listened to it much. Eventually I heard it's much more progressive predecessor "El Cielo" and immediately became a dredg fan, and decided to give "Catch Without Arms" another go. It slowly grew on me more and more, but I think just today it finally clicked. What this album lacks in "progginess" it more than makes up for in skill, power, and just damn good rock songwriting.

This album on the surface could be any alternative rock band's-the songs are short, and for the most part relatively simple in structure. The difference that makes it progressive is subtle, and lies almost entirely in the guitar work. The guitarists don't play at all like alt-rock guitars, but rather like post-rock guitars. They rarely rely on power chords, or any conventional chords, and opt for the thick layers and picking techniques usually used by bands like Mono or Sigur Ros.

The album begins with two very strong opening songs, "Ode to the Sun", and "Bug Eyes", which are both pretty straightforward rockers with a proggy edge. The guitar work in these songs reminds me of "Leitmotif", except for parts of the 2nd track, which could be taken from any post-rock album. The title track is good, but I don't think it measures up to the first two. "Not that Simple" is another great track, full of strong melody, and we begin to see more of the post-rock-style guitar work. "Zebraskin" is one of two very weak tracks on the album in my opinion, the other being "Sang Real". However, the track that lies in between those two is one of the best on the record. It has strong melody, great instrumental work, and flows through a few very interesting changes, and is markedly heavier than the rest of the record. This is also one of a (sadly) few tracks where the bass guitar is allowed to shine through.

Now, the last few tracks on the album are really where it gets good. Each song flows into the next, each growing more intense. "Planting Seeds" contains shimmering guitar layers that one might expect from Explosions in the Sky, and they counterpoint the beautiful melody perfectly. The intensity grows with "Spitshine", through "Jamais vu", and reaches a climax in the amazing "Hungover on a Tuesday". The last track ties the whole album together with another nice melody and triumphant spirit.

"Catch Without Arms" is not a masterpiece of progressive rock. It has its flaws. While most of the songs are good, and they do grow in intensity as the album moves on, they all have a very similar sound. It is mainly for that reason that I put down the album so many times before. Also, the lyrics are hit and miss. Some of them are poignant or catchy, but some of them (particularly in the "weak" tracks mentioned above), they can be downright inane. In the end, however, this remains a very solid record. Dredg prove once again that they are a modern progressive force to be reckoned with. At the very least, they are a post-rock band trapped in an alt-rock band's body, and at most they are a prog powerhouse. This is a great piece of music, something to put on when you're in a good mood and want to sing along, or a soundtrack for a prog fan in love.

GoldenSpiral | 4/5 |


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