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Dredg - Leitmotif CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.28 | 101 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
2 stars DREDG were one of the many bands that emerged in the 90s with the intent to mix alternative rock with more progressive elements. The band was formed in the San Jose, CA neighboring city Los Gatos as far back as 1993 by vocalist Gavin Hayes, guitarist Mark Engles, bassist Drew Roulette and drummer and pianist Dino Campanella. During the early years the band played a rough around the edges mix of post-hardcore and nu metal as heard on the early EPs "Conscious" and "Orph" but caught the progressive bug by what sounds like a reaction to Tool and started to incorporate more art rock and progressive elements into the otherwise alternative metal mix.

The first full-length debut LEITMOTIF was originally released on 30 May 1998 by Universal with the original sepia colored photo of terrestrial topography with some foreign looking characters that spell out the band's name for artistic decorative purposes. The album was re-released in 2001 by Interscope with a plain tan digipak and then again on vinyl in 2010 by Ohlone with a more colorful green photo of Earth's topography. The album has been in and out print many times and remains the lesser known albums since the following "El Cielo" and "Catch Without Arms" are the ones that gained the band some notoriety.

A LEITMOTIF is a recurring musical theme associated within a particular piece of music, with a particular person, a place or even an idea. It's also a melodic passage or phrase that is associated throughout a musical even with a specific character, situation or element. This is a concept album that is based upon the adventures of a wise man who traveled around the world to become a pure soul. He is visited by a spirit who drops him the horrible news that his morality is diseased and the only purification is to travel the world and eschew from the destructive impacts of commerce and greed. The music is designed to accompany this journey and the different scenes that take place around it.

Musically speaking, DREDG is basically a Tool light. The band implements the same sort of repetitive bass grooves and heavy alternative rock guitar riffing that borders on metal but is usually more subdued. There are plenty of clean guitar sequences that alternate with the heavier passages and occasionally some strange sounds that are claimed to be played by the band's instruments and not electronic effects. The music while progressive in some senses remains fairly standard alternative rock and is overall a little too one dimensional for the tastes of many progressive rock aficionados. Despite the grandiose storyline, the music doesn't deviate from a standard 90s alt rock mode.

LEITMOTIF is much less polished than DREDG's following albums and showcases a more direct and raw sound that generates some interesting guitar tones and distortion uses but the riffing is fairly standard and never deviates from following the rather consistent bass grooves. The drumming likewise is subordinate to the bass and guitar that pretty much keeps the beat without getting too crazy. Gavin Hayes' vocal style is nothing out of the ordinary either as he fits the mold as the typical alt rock singer of the era. Personally there's nothing really compelling about LEITMOTIF or DREDG in general as far as i've heard. This band owes a lot of their sound to Tool but fails to capture the charismatic dramatic flair that Tool was able to generate through their hypnotic use of bass grooves and progressive embellishments.

Perhaps i'm just too hardened. I love bands that really know how to deliver the goods and DREDG just cranks out a rather generic version of prog light mixed with alternative metal. When all is said and done, this just makes me want to listen to Tool's "Ænima" or "Lateralus" so i can get a sense of satisfaction which this doesn't deliver. The album is also woefully long clocking in at nearly 55 minutes but only has about ten minutes of ideas that they repeat ad nauseam. IMHO this album neither conveys the storyline nor delivers an interesting mix of musical goods. There are many times certain parts remind me of the Mars Volta and in that regard DREDG were onto something but never really ran away with allowing TMV to steal the show. Sorry guys, this just doesn't do it for me in any way. Leaves me thoroughly bored

siLLy puPPy | 2/5 |


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