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Dredg - Catch Without Arms CD (album) cover



Crossover Prog

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Tristan Mulders
4 stars Dredg - Catch without Arms

I just listened to this disc this afternoon and I can't help but compare this disc to the album Effloresce by space rock band OCEANSIZE (brilliant album by the way). Not in such way as that the music is a lot alike, but both album tracks have this weird thing that they are complex non-commercial songs, but the vocal lines (and lot of instrumental parts) are haunting and have a high singalong rating so to speak. I can't help it, but the lyrics stay in your head all the time.

The songs on this album are a good blend between rock- and ballad like songs. There are some odd rhythms on the album and the song structures are quite complex, but still easily accessible. I played a couple of songs from this disc (Sangreal, Zebraskin and Jamasi vu - also my favourite tracks!) to my mates while we were on holiday and they all liked it (they normally listen to dance music and top 40 crap, but they liked it!

Is this the future of prog? Still maintaining the origins but becoming mainstream (unintentionally I suppose)

Report this review (#43136)
Posted Tuesday, August 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars I noticed a bit of buzz surrounding this band, and as such my curiosity was peaked. I saw it for cheap at a local music store and bought it. To be honest I don't understand what the big deal is. They sound to me like early Foo Fighters going a little crazy with a delay pedal. They have a very clean well produced sound, all the instruments are very clear and absolutely no feedback can be heard. Its not a very interesting listen, not even all that enjoyable. There is a concept album feel in parts, but that just may partially be because practically all the songs sound the same.

These guys are more influenced by the mid 90's alternative then anything else. You can also hear a lot of Dream Theater style progressive metal. Its nowhere near as complex as most progressive metal however.

Their style is somewhat fresh, everything has been done before but usually better. I hate to sound rude but they are playing a style of music has already peaked and almost completely died out. It even reminds me of U2's "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb", more complex of course but the similarities are there.

The album isn't all bad, there are moments where you find yourself appreciating what is being done. The rhythm section is rather good, and you often will be listening to them more than the lead instruments/vocals. The production is excellent, smooth as a baby's bum.

It is, however, overproduced. There is no way the band sounds like this live, and I suspect that the singer is enhanced for the majority of the album. The production probably also resulted in every track sounding much to similar, which is a peril of overproduction. Overuse of the delay peddle drives me crazy (on virtually every track) and it seems to be more of a crutch stemming from lack of skill than used to enhance the sound.

All this said, yes there are some good songs. "Hung Over on a Tuesday" is a very catchy song with some great drumming. "Zebraskin" also properly utilizes the sort of alternative with metal influence nicely. Also the album closer "Matroshka (The Ornament)" is a pleasant tune, and a good note to end on. Unfortunately nothing else on the album is worthwhile.

I wouldn't suggest this album to anyone really, if you've heard a song of off it and enjoyed it is pretty much the only way I would okay the purchase of this album if asked. Not very good (but not terrible) and certainly not (at least I hope) indicative of modern prog.

Report this review (#43727)
Posted Sunday, August 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I have to say, I don't see what's "prog" about this band at all, as I understand it. But they're here, so be it. The previous album, "El Cielo", was much more proggy, in it's concept and in some of the experimental touches like Bulgarian folk vocals. Nonetheles, this a really good mainstream record that should win the band a wider audience. Don't worry, the emo touches are not too overbearing. This a record of sweeping melodies, huge guitar hooks and amospheric effects. The lyrics aren't special, but are passionately sung, and Gavin Hayes has a fabulous voice. I hear some Deftones, Catherine Wheel, Hum and a wee bit of U2 here, all at their best. Highlights: well, heck, it all sounds pretty similar, and some songs stick out more for me, but that's because they have the best melodies (Not that Simple, Planting Seeds). Prog metal fans may enjoy the guitars, but there are no soloing pyrotechnics. Fans of trad prog who don't enjoy contemorary guitar rock had best stay away. Porcupine Tree fans will dig it big time.
Report this review (#45050)
Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I was worried the first time I hired it because el cielo was such a masterpiece that i didnt think they could do it again. I think it's just shy of a masterpiece many because there were no brushstrocks on this album but still every song is good and gavins words are always amazing. Buy this album and do your self a favor and experiece el cielo as well this band will never get old.
Report this review (#45499)
Posted Sunday, September 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
Marc Baum
4 stars I've realized that some people, who know this band and their praised masterpiece "El Cielo" are disappointed with this excellent cd. It's true that they lost some weight, but the brilliant, sometimes decent poppy melodies on this (still) progressive record make a additional plus to their overall sound IMO. The hunting melodies in the unbelievable strong "Bug Eyes" you won't get out of your head after some listening, like some other very memorable moments on this record. But slow in order:

"Ode To The Sun" is a very accesible opening song, with a hunting refrain and excellent guitar work. The lyric of this great start will stay in your head for long time if you let it near you. On the backcover of the cd you can see, that this album is separated in two different parts: "Perspective I" and "Perspective II". This wonderful opening track is the start shot of "Perspective I". Track rating: 9/10

"Bug Eyes" is so beautiful, that I can't describe it with some words. The amazing intro catches you with an strong riff, guide you through a tear-stealing verse into one of the most memorable refrains of this record. I saw the video of this song on MTV Rockzone by zapping and it catched me like only few other tracks in this style. This track blew me away! The part of minute 2.36 'til minute 3.00 remind me very on Porcupine Tree and should be heard specially by those, who are fans of them. Brilliant song and one of my favourite songs this year! Track rating: 10/10

"Catch Without Arms" the title track is light like a feder and is a very good use for a dance on the carpet, not proggy but excellent and very anthemic, but not as good as the previous two songs. That song can stay in your head for days though. Track rating: 8/10

"Not That Simple" begins with a nice guitar intro in the vein of U2 and with decent Pink Floydish guitar underlines and got a hunting chorus, which is another winner of the record. If you like U2, than this will be found food for you. Track rating: 8.5/10

"Zebraskin" got a bit fusion in the verses and a poppy refrain, with nice guitar underlines but isn't part of my favourite songs on this album, even in fact it's all in all more progressive than the previous songs. Still a good song without doubt. Track rating: 7/10

"The Tanbark Is Hot Lava" is the heaviest song of the album, with good verses and great guitar work. The refrain part is once more hunting and memorable. This is more a straight metal song, but I am fond of that and enjoy it very much. Track rating: 8.5/10

"Sang Real" is a rythmic ballad with a good refrain and nice piano. This songs is relaxing and not spectacular, but fits as a unusual arranged quiet piece in the middle of this record. That was the perfect ending of "Perspective I". Track rating: 8/10

"Planting Seeds" is the start shot of "Perspective II" and begins with a dreamy guitar melody and you will feel very well in the warm melodies of the nice refrain, which is part of a great song and a shining moment full with beautiful parts. Track rating: 9/10

"Spitshine" is in a similar mood than the previous song, with another good refrain, this time the guitar comes a bit heavier after two minutes and is a another good song for a sunshine day. But the structures of this one are for my taste too easy and in the instrumental passages too similar with the previous song. But all in all another good one, but nothing really special. Track rating: 7.5/10

"Jamais Vu" is as a single track not very spectacular, but with nice melodies and as a part of the whole album a addition that makes it more rich. But not under the category of my faves of this album. Good, but not more and not less. Track rating: 7/10

"Hung Over On A Tuesday" is the hardest song on "Perspective II" and got in the mid-part some breaks which are in the vein of a prog metal song and includes one of the best guitar solos on this record. A song that which makes out the new style of Dredg and shows their talents as compositional institution in the modern prog music scene. Track rating: 8.5/10

"Matroshka (The Ornament)" is the official closing track of the record and fits as the ending part with it's U2-styled guitar melodies, hunting verses and refrain, also nice piano playing in the ending part, which remind me somehow on one of Peter Gabriel's quiet songs. Really a perfect song to end this great album! Track rating: 9.5/10

There is a bonus track on the European cd version called "Uplifting News", which I won't review, because it's a bonus and isn't a single part of the album and not representative for the record at all. I must say one: It's a good straight song, but is quite forgettable and not a good finish for the album, but a nice bonus though.

All in all I am very impressed by this cd, it got some really awesome songs and some very few downs, but holds up the flag as one of the highlights of the year and should be interesting for open prog-listeners, who aren't afraid of some mainstream-oriented parts. In a melodic aspect, "Catch Without Arms" is more deep and mature than "El Cielo", is by far less complex but in a compositional and own way better and more self-controlled.

Dredg are a creative modern prog band, who combinate avant-garde with mainstream rock (without being mainstream) on "Catch Without Arms" and really deserve attention for their great songwriting and unique sound. They found their own charismatic style with this record and got with Gavin Hayes a great singer, who can sing with a deepness, which isn't very often today and a guitarist with a unique style of playing guitar. One of these very few bands, who lead the prog scene of these days into the future, without sounding dated or cold.

Record rating: 9 + 10 + 8 + 8.5 + 7 + 8.5 + 8 + 9 + 7.5 + 7 + 8.5 + 9.5 = 100.5 / 12 = 8.375 points = 8.5/10 points

Dredg - "Catch Without Arms": 8.5/10 points = 84 % on MPV scale = 4/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Excellent addition to any prog music collection.

Report this review (#45715)
Posted Tuesday, September 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Good thing I waited awhile to review this one. My first impression was POPPY CRAP! Ode to the Sun was ok, so was The Tanbark is Hot Lava, but the rest sounded like pop sellout crap to me. I put it away, almost gave it away...glad I didn't. Fast forward a couple months, and I have an MP3 player. I ripped the CD to my MP3 player, and, bored the next day, I listen through again to Catch Wihtout Arms. My oh my...Bug Eyes knocked my socks off. Ode to the Sun was just how I remembered it...not bad, and a good opener, but did I miss the beauty of Bug Eyes the first time through? Or second? Or third? And Sang Real too, and Jamais Vu, and Catch Without Arms, and Hung Over on a Tuesday. I think this is one of the few bands (Porcupine Tree and Pineapple Thief being the other two) that can actually make decent pop-ish music. Nevermind decent, PTree and Dredg make EXCELLENT music, no matter the genre, and PThief makes pretty good music for pop alternative-ish stuff.

So basically, this is what mainstream music should be, but isn't. A rare gem indeed.The album, however, is a bit too incosistent at the end for it to get a truly good score form me. About half the songs are great, and I mean REALLY great, while the rest are just OK...I don't know what the final score is gonna be until I finish the review though. Song time:

Ode to the Sun: Pretty good opener. Probabaly the worst singing in the beginning on the album, but the chorus isn't bad. The guitar work here is definitely good, especially right before and during the chorus. It's simple, but very effective. I really do like the drummer though, he's definitely making it happen and has very appropriate drummign every song. Good opener. Not awesome, but definitely good. 7/10

Bug Eyes: OMG. This song is amazing. So much emotion, a great interlude when the song is half done: "It's been ten years strong / that's much too long...", great drumming and overall such a powerful song. This song feels like it was made to make you feel better and worse at the same time, much like songs by Porcupine Tree. Amazing song. 10/10

Catch Without Arms: This song reminds me of Maroon 5, oddly. It's a good song, but not what a title track should be. It should be stronger. The chorus isn't bad, but the part preceding it is the best part, although it's short. I love the ending too, very serene. 8/10

Not That Simple: This song should refer to the drumming! Damn, the drumming should not be that simple, especially after the great drumming of the previous songs. This is a big meh song. Lacks the power of Bug Eyes, the great appropriate guitar work of Ode to the Sun, nothing makes it stand out. I mean, it's not bad, but it's way too simple, ironically. 6/10

Zebraskin: Kinda a peaceful funk feel here, kinda sweet. The chorus and lyrics are great, as usual, and some, GREAT use of keyboards. Minimalistic guitar work as usual, but it all works seamlessly. Good song. 8/10

The Tanbark is Hot Lava: The heaviest song on the album, if you can call it heavy. It's kinda meh, nothing too special.There's not much to write about, fast and pretty heavy. 6/10

Sang Real: The other amazing blow-your-load song here. Great drumming, powerful as hell chorus, great everything. You have to hear it to properly experience it, so no use describing it. Just know: I'd buy the entire album just for this song. 10/10

Plant Seeds: Take everything I said about Ode to the Sun and paste it here. These songs are virtually identical in structure and feel. 7/10

Spitshine: This song is too happy and too typical. It's a very typical Dredg song for this album, nothing special about it. It's not memorable either. Meh. 5/10

Jamais Vu: Pretty good song here, great singing and harmonies. It's the standard Dredg song with more emotion and great singing. 8/10

Hung Over on a Tuesday: The other heavy song on the album, this one does it much better than Hot Lava. It's got some great rhythms in it and some good singing that really does feel right with the music, unlike Hot Lava again. 9/10

Matroshka (The Ornament): Happy song. This one is a good one for the first 3 minute...but it's five mintues long, and it fades out with one of the best ways to close an album I've ever seen. So this song gets 10/10 just because it's the absolutely perfect way to end this album. 10/10

Once again, great album, but a bit too inconsistent at the end of the day. *listens to Bug Eyes*

Heavy parts: 7/10 Soft parts: 8.5/10 Creativity/Originality: 8/10 Variety: 6/10 Musicianship: 7/10 Lasting Appeal: 9/10 Ode to the Sun: 7/10 Bug Eyes: 10/10 Catch Without Arms: 8/10 Not That Simple: 6/10 Zebraskin: 8/10 The Tanbark is Hot Lava: 6/10 Sang Real: 10/10 Plant Seeds: 7/10 Spitshine: 5/10 Jamais Vu: 8/10 Hung Over on a Tuesday: 9/10 Matroshka (The Ornament): 10/10

Total score: 131/181 = .72 = 72% Final Score: 3/5. Good, but get El Cielo instead. Or get this for Bug Eyes and Sang Real.

Report this review (#47009)
Posted Saturday, September 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I think this is Dredg's best work yet .With their strong guitar meldoys it makes the whole album greatly worth a 5. Catch Without Arms is the best album i have heard in the last 2 years . Their first single "BUG EYES" is amazingly powerful with the strong guitar and bass meldoys . This album should win a Grammy for their creative musical talent they together have created.
Report this review (#50050)
Posted Wednesday, October 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is more than shocking. I have to be honest, I haven't heard their older albums ("El Cielo" or the other one) so I can't talk abou their evolution or anything,but one thing I know, this album is really amazing.

The songs are structured in special scales and layers, I think "Catch Without Arms" is a masterpiece, every song from "Ode To the Sun" to "Matroshka" is truly incredible, you'll be shocked more than once with this album. So I think this could be one of the best releases in 2005 along with Porcupine Tree "Deadwing" and Pelican "The Fire In Our Throats..." so yes indeed, this album is actually Essential, the music is really versatile, everyone will find in this album at least a couple of awesome songs.

Report this review (#54699)
Posted Friday, November 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars To begin with, I have to admit that I am follower of classic prog rock: "Genesis", "Van der Graaf", "King Crimson"..., being "Marillion" my favourite band, but this band deserves as much praise as "Genesis", but at present. This band is simply astonishing. Their sense for melody and energy is out of the common (just listen to the fantastic singer, not a single word lacks emotion). This band works as a sole entity exploding in a fountain of 1,000 feelings. If you haven't experienced this band, don't wait any longer."El Cielo" and "Catch without arms" are both equally unique and present masterpieces. P.D. you just have to be a little bit open-minded (we are in the XXI century). Enjoy.
Report this review (#58911)
Posted Friday, December 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
con safo
4 stars Somewhat of a disappointment after the incredible El Cielo, but still a highly enjoyable album! One of the first things I noticed about this album that set it apart from El Cielo is the relatively simple song structure on most tracks, whereas El Cielo was full of very imaginative and unique song writing Catch Without Arms seems to follow a fluent Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus structure, while still maintaining their artistic integrity. Another thing I noticed was the absence of "Bushstrokes" or "Movements", the short but excellent instrumental tracks spread across Dredg's first two albums. I feel this album could have been a lot better if some of the more poppy and forgettable tracks ("Not that Simple", "Spitshine") were replaced by Dredg's unique and beautiful instrumentals. Why they chose to leave them out, I don't know, but I definitely feel this album could have been improved greatly by their presence. Some standout tracks : The beautiful and uplifting "Ode To The Sun" the hard-hitting and fast paced "The Tanbark is Hot Lava" and my favorite song off the album "Jamais Vu"

Overall, an enjoyable album that doesn't quite reach the brilliance of El Cielo, but still contains some great Dredg music! Recommended to Dredg fans and music lovers alike! ..


Report this review (#68815)
Posted Wednesday, February 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars I can honestly say that I tried to like this album. I even tried to find some glimmer of hope in a new generation of progressive music inside the cover of the jewel case. But in the end there were at least five distractions that kept me from really appreciating this as a significant work of progressive art: Joy Division, Sonic Youth, U2, half of Tears for Fears, and maybe even a little bit of the Feelies to boot. For some reason I also couldn't seem to get the voice of that guy from Frankie Goes to Hollywood out of my head, even though I haven't heard anything by those guys since they faded away more than two decades ago.

The point is, I really don't hear anything here that's either new or progressive in any way. This sound grew out of a disjointed (but heavily commercialized) movement of artsy college kids back in the mid- to late- 80's and probably peaked, and faded, with the Foo Fighters, and with some of those soundtracks that Simple Minds made their way onto around 1990. There's no new ground being broken on 'Catch Without Arms'. dredg is a very competent, but not overly talented group of musicians that clearly have a top-notch publicist and business management team, and this album has an outstanding job of engineering and mixing in it, but the music itself is rather sophomoric.

The album linear notes and artwork certainly try to attach some sort of 'deep- thinking' meaning to the lyrics, but the cutaway Zen master, creepy-looking three- eyed dude doing the lotus thing, and the anorexic virgin Mary simply come off as rather hackneyed, and I never did figure out the whole jellyfish and penguin thing.

To be fair, "Catch Without Arms" is a very catchy tune, and the song has a strong tendency to stick in your head for days. But the same could be said for Tears for Fear's "Shout" when it came out, and no one heralded that as a progressive masterpiece. Underneath the seductive rhythm and Gavin Hayes' dulcet tone, lyrics like "that's what happens when you compromise your art (heart)" are just plain cheesy.

dredge had couple of promising albums early on, particularly with El Cielo. While that one is rather heavy on experimental sound effects (bordering on the excessive use of said sound effects!), it still manages to have an unpolished and sincere quality to it that leads one to expect the band would develop into a full-blown unique talent. But with Catch Without Arms, it really sounds like the artistic decisions were being made by committees or even worse, focus groups. There isn't enough distinction between nine of these songs to warrant commenting on them individually, which if I'm not mistaken is sort of the definition of 'pop' music.

The three that actually do stand out somewhat are "Jamais Vu", "Spitshine", and "Matroshka", and interestingly enough, each for different reasons.

"Jamais Vu" shows the greatest amount of sound variety on the album, ranging at times from an almost salsa-inspired guitar strum, to borderline white-noise, to a bit of a spacey interlude that actually ends up sort of bringing the song to a close. Coming a half-hour into the album and right after "Spitshine", this was the one that helped me to stir from my borderline slumber after hearing the first eight songs vary so little that I was at times unsure where one ended and another began.

Preceding "Jamais Vu" is "Spitshine", a song that struck me as pure college-indy crap the first time I heard it (along with "Hung Over on a Tuesday", which I still feel that way about). But on closer listen, "Spitshine" actually not only has a really interesting beat, but also is one of the few songs on the album where there is some vocal variety. True, it appears this is the result of studio overdubbing and echo effects of Hayes' voice, but at least it is variety. The guy has a nice voice, but really - his pitch doesn't exactly vary much, and Geddy Lee can testify as to how important a really unique and varied vocal sound is when all you have behind you is a bass, guitar, and drums (and Rush even has synthesizers and keyboards most of the time, both of which are in scarce supply for dredg). I think this song could have easily been fleshed out into a more progressive and detailed work - three and a half minutes doesn't do it justice.

The last song on the album is probably the most interesting. "Matroshka" is closer to the sound of El Cielo than it is to the rest of this album. There are several tempo changes, the progressions are explored more fully than elsewhere on the album, and the overall sound just leaves a good impression on the listener. This one also has some studio-enhanced variety in the vocal department that will be difficult to duplicate on stage without adding another singer, but it's a nice touch here.

Overall, this is a very listenable album from a fairly polished band. The detractors here are that the sound they've polished doesn't break any new or particularly interesting new ground; and the overall 'theme' of the album, such that it is, doesn't exactly rank it in the company of some of the prog gods. I'm hoping the band actually manages to score some sort of RIAA coup here - a gold record or something that will ensure them some recurring royalty income. That way they can comfortably get back on the track they were headed on with Lietmotif and El Cielo, and move away from trying to resurrect a sugary, over-homogenized sound that I thought went away years ago.

This is not a classic. It is technically well-produced and easy to listen to (although I won't insult it by calling it 'easy-listening'). If it were possible I'd give it 2.5 stars, but since that isn't possible, I'll round it off to three.


Report this review (#74199)
Posted Thursday, April 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars When critics would try to suggest that truly inventive, enjoyable, progressive music that captured one's attention like that produced in the 70's has ceased to exist, I would mention Dredg as an example that thinking of that nature is simply not true. However, the fail to prove my point on this release.

A repeat of the full, surging atmospheres of El Cielo had obviously not occurred, nor a return to the Tool influenced metal of Leitmoff. Instead we have something much different, which I do respect, however the result is a jump to what is better described as alternative rock than prog. Though with that said there is some very good music to be found on this release. Gavin's voice is heavenly as on previous albums and perfectly melds with the flow of the songs. I'm especially impressed with the drum work here and I note influences by Carrey and Burdford. But on most tracks the guitar screams uninspired Smashing Pumpkins alternative rock.

Lyrically though they once again are trying to express something far too grand for the limited lyrical ability they posses, but they do provide a few interesting parallel structures such as "Look what I have found, a seashell in a sea of shells.

A solid release to pick up, especially if you're already a fan of their material, but it won't bring any shame if it's missing in your collection.

Report this review (#76981)
Posted Tuesday, May 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
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.

Report this review (#84029)
Posted Monday, July 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars And now for their last album to date...Catch without arms is a compeletely different album from it's predecessor.Chris de Garmo (ex-guitarist from Queensryche) helped them with the arrangements and co-writed two beautiful songs.The opening track(ode to the sun),and the more radio friendly Spitshine.More alternative than ever but still high quality music ...Pretty much all of the tracks could be singles (in a wierd way) since they got catchy melodies and refrains...The band is tighter than ever ,and this can be easily noticed.In my head it's like a catharsis from their last ''difficult'' and demanding album.... (Remember what Queensryche did after promised land?.....Is it just by accident?).Anyway another highly recommended album from dredg...So what's next ??
Report this review (#89925)
Posted Monday, September 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. I have to agree with FishyMonkey, who said in his review "This is what mainstream music should be, but isn't".

I really think this is on a par with "El Cielo", I feel the guitars aren't as dense, more out front on this one. And I think there are better songs on this one, but there are also songs that aren't as good too, so it sort of balances out. I think there is more meat on 'El Cielo", and it's not quite as polished. The first four songs on this record are fantastic, I can see why they are so popular, but this isn't "meat and potatoes" folks, nothing complex here, I really enjoyed it at first , but I tired of it quickly.

For Gavin's vocals alone i'd recommend "Catch Without Arms".

Report this review (#92404)
Posted Wednesday, September 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Beautiful Music

That short phrase sums it up almost perfectly in my mind. People have come to expect a bit more out of reviews, so I'll explain a bit. Catch Without Arms at the time of this review is the only dredg albm I have, so I can't compare it to El Cielo or Leitmotif, but I will say it is one of he most inspiring and uplifting albums I own.

The basic tone is fairly aggressive, with it's fair share of peaks and valleys with volume waivering thinly between hushed, melodic verses and sing-along choruses hardly rivaled throughout the rest of my album collection. All of the songs on Catch Without Arms are all driven by a easily identifiable and dredg-specific guitar tone you will become very familar with throughout the album. This tone leads the charge in the momentum of the album, and I've come to love it.

The simple majesty of Catch Without Arms is best displayed in the album-closer "Matroshka (The Ornament)," which contains all of the best elements present: catchy and warm guitar lines and a chorus that brings a smile across my face every time. Highlights can be a bit hard to sort out on this album, as the songs feel interconnected musically without being so most of the time. Other than the ending song, "Ode to the Sun," "Catch Without Arms," "Not that Simple," and "Spitchine" are my favorite songs.

I am seriously considering raising the rating to a perfect 5 stars because of the great feelings I associate with Catch Without Arms, but I'm holding back for now. The music is top-notch in the realm of alternative rock, but the small amount of variation sonically between the songs may turn off some people. dredg created a sound on this album I will always relate to them, and they fleshed it out a lot, perhaps to its limits.

Report this review (#100390)
Posted Saturday, November 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Dredg's third album, Catch without Arms is good, but cannot be put on the same level as Leitmotif or El Cielo. It is the most mainstream-sounding of their three albums, which I find a bit bothersome.

Catch without Arms has good moments, OK moments, and one bad moment. My favorite songs on the album are "Ode to the Sun", "Sang Real", and "Jamais Vu". There are two songs that are just kind of mediocre in my view, "The Tanbark is Hot Lava" and "Planting Seeds". Although they aren't bad songs, I find myself skipping over them often. The one song I can't stand listening to on this album is "Spitshine". This song is just bad when I try to listen to it, and it hasn't gotten much better after multiple listens.

Besides the last three songs I mentioned, Catch without Arms is still a good album worth listening to.

Report this review (#106438)
Posted Sunday, January 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Too poppy to be essential, too complex to be radio-friendly, Catch Without Arms falls somewhere in the nether regions of music without a real home. There are some interesting moments on this album but it is probably the weakest offering from the band. Zebraskin and Jamais Vu are among the more interesting tracks and there are some enjoyable straight rockers. There just isn't that much that is progressive about this album, particularly in light of the band's first two albums. I am hoping for more from dredg's next album.
Report this review (#106454)
Posted Sunday, January 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars First of all, I'm a big fan of Dredg, and I must note that their first two albums are much higher rated in my opinion than this one.

After Leitmotif and El Cielo, both wonderful albums, I must say I wasn't ready for that one. It came to me as a shock that it is not prog, they drifted away from their inspired sound in the past albums. I don't know what caused this, but this is not the way to go for Dredg, otherwise the next album would be on mtv as soon as it's released and they will also succeed in that way because they're too good. I wish they switch back their style and ride in the correct lane in the rest of their music life.

To be fair, this album also has its moments. Maybe I'm harsh on "Catch Without Arms" because of my high expectations due to their past work; but it is certain that the next Dredg album has to be in a different perspective than this, perhaps return to Leitmotif's sound, huh?

Report this review (#107400)
Posted Saturday, January 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars A step backwards.

Progressively speaking, this album isn't very progressive. This is one step away from being Audioslave rather than knocking on the door of King Crimson or Yes. That being said, it isn't composed poorly or just completely unworthy of your time, it's just not very appealing to me. Porcupine Tree and The Mars Volta is about as mainstream as I go, and this is a touch more than their albums.

The music here varies from energetic, to mellowish soft-rock. Those in the neo-prog vein I feel will enjoy this as it exhibits some of the qualities found in neo albums. Also of note is how this album differs from their debut, which had a more angsty sound, as this album is much more mature in approach even though I find the overall music of lesser quality.

As should be stated, this album I feel will only appeal to those of the younger ilk. So be forewarned. Also, I feel that those wishing to explore Dredg should start with their most progressive and complete album, El Cielo.

Report this review (#115826)
Posted Tuesday, March 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Catch without arms is the only album by dredg that i have heard at the time of writing, and all i can say it that "it's okay". When i got Catch without arms, i was expecting a great album. After i popped the cd in and finished listening to the first song, my expectations dropped to "well, if the whole cd sounds like this, then i guess it's pretty ok". And it did. Catch without is a very consistent, both in quality and style, and if you like alternative rock with a touch of U2, then odds are that you will like this cd. I know i did. Just not enough. If i was to descrivbe the album with one word, it would be "sterile". The sound is well produced, the singer is good, there is some good playing, some melodies are very catchy and the packaging is charming but, despite the fact that the lyrics are very hard to penetrate, and the music is typically alternative-moody, there is just not enough emotion in there. The Last track is the most U2-like, sounding at parts very much like "Where the streets have no name", and also the most worthwhile. Great outro to an album, and EXTREMELY catchy chorus. So, is Catch without arms "prog"? No, so don't expect to be blown away by the originality of it. That being said, i am pretty sure that i am being a little hard on it, and that many who have a leaning towards the more easy-going alt-rockish spectra might get something much more out of it than i did. But then again, i like U2, so..
Report this review (#116871)
Posted Friday, March 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Unlike other reviewers I haven't noticed "the wrong direction" or something on that DREDG record. I like it more than "Leitmotif" due to its melodical side and I feel it's pretty equal to "El Cielo" - certainly not in songwriting question but ib qualitative one. I mean "El Cielo" is rather flat without obvious hits and earworms, while this one has both masterpieces ("Planting Seeds", title track, "Hung over on a Tuesday", "Ode to the Sun") and average or even tracks and one can easily notice the gap between them. If not - that's even better, tastes differ after all.

I liked what I've heard and I hope to hear more soon. Modern Prog is already one of my prime genres, and it still deliver me bands one can hardly compare with anything. Same goes to DREDG - imagine a mix between early MARS VOLTA (without soundwork) and late RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS (without funk)...but that's not as close as it sound really :) Recommended.

Report this review (#121333)
Posted Tuesday, May 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars Everyone was raving about how "great" these guys were. I snatched this up at a used record shop for $7.99. I was pleasantly suprised how much all the songs sounded the same. To top it all off, the case was broken. :*( Anyway, "Catch Without Arms" is poppy rock music with annoying vocals and boring songs, simply put. I listened to it a lot in an attempt to figure what the big deal was, but I kept eyeing that Count Basie album with much anticipation of how much better it must be than this. It is.

Standout songs: The ending of "Jamais Vu"

Report this review (#125488)
Posted Monday, June 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Oh my.

I am a recent-comer to the world of dredg. I brought the album El Cielo after hearing a track on, and I was blown away. I listened to that album over and over until my ears bled, and I still couldn't get enough. As a result of this musical epiphany, 15 extra pounds were soon spent on ordering both Leitmotif and Catch Without Arms.

Due to the rubbishness of the British Postal System, I recieved Leitmotif long before Catch Without Arms, and again I was treated to an onslaught of glorious sound - my only disappointment being that it didn't last nearly long enough.

An then, yesterday, I recieved Catch Without Arms - as you can imagine, after my reaction to the first two CD's, I was pretty blinking excited. And so I geared up the stereo, poured a G&T and settled down for another orgasmic musical experience.

How disappointed was I.

My heart beat with rabid intensity as the first line of 'Ode to the Sun' kicked in. I was expecting a prog-o-rific, symphonious and exquist journey through the minds of this four piece genious squad.

Instead it feels like I barely left the bus stop. I was almost sickened by the over smooth, over simple, almost poppy melodies. Where were the soaring sky-scraping-sky-scraper riffs? Where are the great melodies like textured oceans swimming round and round in my head? Where are the brilliant instrumentals that set the previous albums apart from thier contempories? What the heck is with the pop-tastic track Zebraskin? I would put that track down to some soppy 80s pop group rather than a suppossedly avante-prog-rock (?) band.

I'm not saying there aren't some truely beautiful dredg moments on this album - Bug Eyes, Sang Real and Jamais Vu are all powerful songs in their own right. But the over all effect left me feeling slightly soggy rather than drenched in musical greatness. I understand that all bands must evolve their style or risk stagnating, but this offering feels like a toned down, 'normalised' version of dredg's previous work.

Having said all that, I'm not going to put this album down as a complete write-off. I have a feeling that after a few more run- throughs (skipping Zebraskin, because that track really makes my skin crawl) this album will grow on me. I hope this is not the first album many would-be fans will hear - it does not do the band justice, and I might not have bothered listening to the other two albums if I ran across this one first.

Anyone thinking of listening in to the fantastical band, please try Leitmotif or El Cielo first, you will be far more satisfied by these melodious master pieces.

Report this review (#146381)
Posted Monday, October 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars What went wrong with this album ? Every song sounds like a single on the radio. This album is nothing like the amazing El Cielo or their great Debut Letimotif. There are only three song i enjoy on this album Bug Eyes, Ode to the Sun, and Sang Real. I bought this album the day it came out and what a let down it was. They might be trying to experiment with different sounds but they totally lost their great unique sound on this album. I'm a big Dredg fan myself and this album does not do it for me. It does not flow well like their first two albums at all. I'm giving this 2 stars, like i said there is only about a couple of good tracks on Catch without Arms. Hopefully their next release will be far better. This band should be able to come back with a great album.
Report this review (#151246)
Posted Friday, November 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Dredg - Catch Without Arms

Dredg first gave us the impressive yet artfully flawed Leitmotif, then they shipped out the masterpiece that struck awe into the faces of all: El Cielo, and now they have given us another good release in Catch Without Arms. Whereas the first album was hard-edge in comparison to the second, this one is, well, poppier on all fronts than any of the other previous releases. Instead of the swirling and interesting compositions that were abroad throughout El Cielo, Catch Without Arms instead favors relatively simpler structures that, while not as "progressive" or forward-moving as their other tracks/releases, still manage to captivate and to enchant in that way that only Dredg songs can do.

Despite this album's pitfalls (it is definitely a move in the "wrong direction" as some would say), Dredg's sound continues to be a complex foray into many little sub genres, extenuated by the details and the things going on in the background--which are given just as much attention as the sounds in the forefront.

Their sound, while built around simplicity, is still unique and, quite honestly, like little you've heard before; something greatly helped by Gavin Hayes amazing vocals, back and better than ever on this release. He and the band have an incredible knack for delivering some of the most memorable lines and riffs you'll ever hear in your life--it's pure emotion mixed with power and raw energy, and it's a combination that I'll always come back for and always love, despite the simplicity behind it all. It's this driving simplicity, which almost serves as a definer of the band (at least on this album), that keeps them so fresh and unique. Some people would dismiss the band (especially here) for being too mainstream and whatnot, but I must ask why that should matter: if a band sounds good to you then why shouldn't you like it, despite the simplicity? Some people just seem to think that music that can be called "prog" is all time-shifts and keyboard solos--two things Dredg certainly do not specialize in. The band deserves to be heard, so lay down any prejudices you have if you plan to pick this one up over El Cielo (for whatever reason anyone would do so; this one is still a good release, but El Cielo blows it out of the water on any day of the week, year, millennia, etc).

Now the music:

The album opens incredibly strongly with four amazing tracks in a row: Ode to the Sun is one of Dredg's best tracks. It begins with a subtle fade in--as is now common to them--and then escalates into a something quite lively--also serving as something almost ethereal and uplifting. Then Bug Eyes--the track that everyone that knows Dredg exists has heard. Very nice track with some eerie slide guitar. Then Catch Without Arms --another one of their best tracks--especially the bridge section where they break from major to minor progression--it gives me chills. Then Not that Simple which delivers an amazing chorus of If all else fails, if all else turns to dust / Set sail on a ship built for us. It's as beautiful as it sounds, though slower, and admittedly it wears more with age than the other three do.

Then we get to Zebraskin, which is, at least in my opinion, the worst track on the album, with cheesy-sounding lyrics about alcoholism (maybe I just don't relate to them, as I've never drank in my life.) and a rather odd, almost toneless melody. It is actually my least favorite Dredg song of all of their work thus far. Then we end Perspective One (essentially, Side One) with Tanbark--an upbeat song that feels sort of disjointed, and Sang Real--which is a great piano/drum machine driven track with a very catchy chorus and great lyrics.

Perspective Two opens up with Planting Seeds and Spitshine, two rather unremarkable tracks that serve to give the album a kind of blur, as they neither stand out, nor shout: bad! like "Zebraskin". Then we have Jamais Vu, a great track which opens with a neat guitar riff that builds the mainframe for the song itself. I'm very drawn to the eeriness of this track, and it features (once again), a very memorable chorus.

Following this we have Hungover On a Tuesday an emotional and upbeat track comparable (and rightfully so) to the opener on the album, and equally as catchy, emotional, and powerful--if not even more so.. The closer, Matroshka is awesome. Built around very uplifting tones, it feels like redemption, and is easily on of Dredg's best tracks, without a doubt--a closer for the album that puts it back in good standings, and makes listening to the entirety completely worth it.

All in all, this album is not nearly as good as El Cielo, but it certainly has its moments and merits, it's just a step in the wrong direction. Still, the good tracks on this album manage to captivate just as much as any of the best material on El Cielo did, and for that, I think I'd consider a worthy album of owning, despite the few dud tracks it contains.

I'd say I'd give it a very generous 6.5 or so, but I'll stick to 3 stars as it merits "Good, but non-essential" I think.

Report this review (#170853)
Posted Tuesday, May 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is not all that progressive. It sounds like an extension of the excellent 'El Cielo' but without all of the musical intermissions. I have never heard Dredg on the radio, but I could easily imagine hearing one of these songs on the radio. I really like this album and my personal rating would be 4 stars, but there is just not enough prog here for me to rate more than 3 on this site.
Report this review (#171244)
Posted Saturday, May 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Dredg ? 'Catch Without Arms' 4 stars

When I first listened to it, I thought it was ok at best. This is an album where you cannot come in with expectations, but just let the album hit you.

I won't deny the amount of pop sensibilities in the music, but it certainly is just as well crafted as anything else they have done. All the songs strengths or weakness depending on the listeners point of view will be in the chorus, it is the focal point of every track. The pressure was laid on Gavin to get some catchy lyrics in there, because the instrumentation isn't as great as the previous two efforts but it is still interesting. The album is haunting in a way with some pieces containing child laughter, a young girl singing the chorus of a later song at the end of a previous one which is not your conventional pop album. I found this album to be even more depressing then 'El Cielo'. My only problem is a lot of tremolo picking done by the guitar which started to get a little samey, but I certainly won't complain about the songs all in all.

I never have a favorite song on this album?only temporary ones. Each and every month I have a different one, to the point where every song was once considered my favorite. It speaks for the album, it wasn't best as a 'whole', but I found each and every song to eventually hit or lose my interest.

Report this review (#221737)
Posted Thursday, June 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars I would call this album closer to modern rock than prog. The trio drums, guitars and bass topped by a singer are definitely more inclined to play straight forward rock than anything else. The opening "Ode To The Sun" has a deep early "U2" felling as far as I am concerned. This being said, the track is quite good (I liked U2 in their early days, BTW).

This mood is prolonged trough the whole of this album. Same characteristics prevail: fine and melodic vocals, sustained beat (but not rocking wild, be assured) and enjoyable guitar parts. The title track is in this respect a fine achievement.

Each track has its own merit, although lots of similarities also show up amongst them. Anyway, this is a pretty good rock album by all means (even if "Zebraskin" is rather weak). And I would recommend it to the ones who like this type of music.

The upbeat (almost punkish) "Tanbark" is nothing too inventive I 'm afraid. I've heard such a track already tens of times. Having said this: such a song is quite pleasant though. Still, after a few songs, the mood is quite repetitive and uniform ("Planting Seeds").

If you are looking inventive prog, you should pass your way. I am quite astonished that one out of four reviewers does believe that this album is a masterpiece of progressive prog. As I have said, it sounds like a good rock album which rating could oscillate between three and four stars. "Hungover On A Tuesday" is quite remarkable and is my favourite song from this offering.

Final call is three.

Report this review (#457728)
Posted Monday, June 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars El Cielo has a little sister, and that sister's name is Catch Without Arms. I cannot imagine someone falling in love with El Cielo and dismissing this treasure, which may be outshined a bit by its predecessor but still shines brightly just the same. I can, however, understand the upturned noses of those expecting this to resemble anything like Yes or King Crimson: Catch Without Arms comes nowhere near the symphonic or eclectic styles of progressive rock. Indeed, the progressive nature of the music is admittedly elusive, but I think what sets it apart from the mainstream acts to which it may fairly be compared (U2, for instance) are the lyrics. The lead singer implies that this is a concept album, that the record is divided into two contrasting parts and that the lyrics reflect opposites or areas of contention. With no disrespect to the songwriter intended, I just don't see it. The lyrics are esoteric and elude a solid interpretation on my part, and yet each syllable, when blessed with their respective melodies, is so persuasive. To complicate things further, each song has a companion painting, each of them bizarre and abstract. Whatever the case, I know I don't have to understand something to love it. The first word in the title is the clue: This is some of the catchiest music I can possibly think of.

"Ode to the Sun" It's always a pleasure to hear the distinctive earnest vocals of Gavin Hayes. After the guitars materialize in post-rock fashion, we're treated to the first in a long series of powerful rock songs with strong, memorable choruses.

"Bug Eyes" Launching into the second potent rocker, awash with guitars and a redolent vocal melody, dredg paints a pretty and nostalgic picture. It causes me to reflect on my life and ask myself if I've been a good steward of the seconds I've been given and the breaths I've taken: "It's time to do something good for my health, time to do something good for myself. I've wasted all this time."

"Catch Without Arms" The star of the title track is the bassist, who lays down a cool groove for the verses. Again, the vocal melodies are stellar (okay, I'm going to say that a lot in this review, so bear with me).

"Not That Simple" The velvety verse leads into the first chorus, which is sung sweet and low. The second refrain is heartening, reminding me that life is ultimately all about trust. And what a brilliant reminder it is. A child's off-key rendition "Planting Seeds" makes me smile.

"Zebraskin" Here's a song I can relate to: "A couple of drinks midday; haven't felt this way since yesterday." The music takes a detour from the hard-hitting pop rock and eases into a comfortable nightclub feel.

"The Tanbark is Hot Lava" A strange title indeed, but the music is straightforward and well-driven. The rhythm is rapid fire and the singing is especially forceful.

"Sang Real" dredg adds a feathery piano over electronic-sounding drums as the simple slippery lead guitar motif slides over it. The chorus is on the softer side, downy and yet somehow persuasive. Strange chattering concludes the track.

"Planting Seeds" The first song of the second part rises like a typical post rock track before the bassist delivers another compelling riff under light clean guitar. I wonder if the seashell found in a sea of shells is deliberately ambiguous: Are we to imagine something found in a large group of like objects, or are the shells more menacing (bullet casings, perhaps?). Whatever the import of the words, they resonate with me in a way that evades description.

"Spitshine" "Spitshine" is another abstruse song ("You spit-shined my corroded halo, then packaged it away; you spit-shined my corroded halo and left it to decay"), but musically it is quite simplistic and easy to follow. "Take this weight off my shoulders and move it to my brain," the singer says. How I've often wished for the opposite.

"Jamais Vu" This opens with a hasty cleanly plucked guitar phrase, though the drums are more languid. Again, the vocal melodies are magnificent, soaring high above the music like the majestic eagle over lovely landscapes.

"Hung Over on a Tuesday" Been there, done that. The music is similar to what has come before. I find dredg to be refreshingly consistent on this album, and they still finds a way to dazzle with compelling vocal melodies.

"Matroshka (The Ornament)" The most peaceful song has electric guitars that almost sound like a distorted organ. The lighter guitars add an attractive texture. It ends the album wonderfully, keeping the reminiscent feel.

Report this review (#755145)
Posted Saturday, May 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars The first Dredg album I got my hands on was "The Pariah, the Parrot and the Delusion" and after listening to it about 3 times, I came to appreciate how wonderful that album is. Next I got "El Cielo" and once again after a few listens, I fell in love with that one too. So.....the one in the middle should be just as good right? Well, I'll say that it's not terrible, but it isn't as great as either of the albums before or after it. Pretty much what most of the reviewers have been saying about it on this site is close to how I feel about it too. Good music, still on the hard side of progressive rock, but not as hard, not as loud and not as progressive. The songs are somewhat too similar, but as I grow accustomed to the album, I expect I'll start to hear the differences. I guess this must have been an attempt for the band to find an audience, but thank goodness that the next album was just as good as the one prior to this. So, a band is experimenting with it's sound, there is nothing wrong with that, but unfortunately you get some things that work well and others that don't work so well. I can't discount dredg by saying that they aren't good, because I have heard how great they are. But I wouldn't recommend basing your opinion of them on this album alone. Yes there are highlights here, but they are fewer and farther in between than they are on the other two albums I've mentioned. I think you know how this one is going to be rated right? Middle of the road or Good but non-essential pretty much sums it up. 3 stars (you can add a half a star to that if you want for good quality and a few "highs"). Start with the album before or after this one first. You'll be glad you did!
Report this review (#1303461)
Posted Tuesday, November 11, 2014 | Review Permalink

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