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Dredg Leitmotif album cover
3.28 | 103 ratings | 15 reviews | 10% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1999

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. 易 (Symbol Song *) (4:23)
2. Movement I: 45 degrees N, 180 degrees W (1:01)
3. Lechium (6:24)
4. Movement II: Crosswind Minuet (1:32)
5. Traversing Through The Arctic Cold We Search For The Spirit Of Yuta (6:37)
6. Movement III: Uyndon (3:07)
7. Penguins In The Desert (4:13)
8. Movement IV: RR (2:59)
9. Yatahaze (3:44)
10. Movement V: 90 Hour Sleep (includes hidden track after silence) (20:20)

Total Time: 54:20

* Chinese character for "change" or "chameleon"

Line-up / Musicians

- Gavin Hayes / vocals, guitar
- Mark Engles / guitar, backing vocals
- Drew Roulette / bass, synth
- Dino Campanella / drums, piano

- Shannon Harris / vocals (5)
- Gus Lyndon Farwell / vocals (6)

Note : The actual instrumentation could not be fully confirmed at this moment

Releases information

CD Woven Records ‎- 00771 (1999, US)
CD Interscope Records ‎- 069493114-2 (2001, US) New cover art

LP Ohlone Recordings ‎- none (2010, US)

Thanks to xhamasaki for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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DREDG Leitmotif ratings distribution

(103 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(10%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (39%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

DREDG Leitmotif reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by con safo
4 stars An excellent debut. Though not perfect, leitmotif is an great listen.

leitmotif is a young, more aggresive dredg. It is a concept album about a journey across several continents to rid one of a moral disease, and through the many varied songs it does take you on an incredible journey.

The album starts with a faint buzzing noise that gets louder and louder until exploding into the first track "Symbol Song." (there is alot of confusion about the track listing, because the symbol on the back of the leitmotif case is actually supposed to be the first song) A very aggresive and heavy song, great guitar here and gavins waling vocals add some awesome intensity. We then move on to the first instrumental "movement" on the album, "Movement I: @45ºN. 180ºW" which follows a similar rythmn to the first song, the song really goes nowhere in its short span though.

The next track is one of my all time dredg favourites! "Lechium" is pure dredg goodness. Floating guitar lines augmented by Drew's pulsating bass line, carried along nicely by some background vocals that give the song an almost middle eastern feel. Gavin sounds incredible in this track as well, foreshadowing what he will accomplish vocally in "El Cielo." Some other standout tracks on the album is the furious "Penguins In The Desert", Possibly their heaviest song to date, from the opening guitar riff, this song will have you hooked. It starts VERY aggresive and heavy but then takes a complete turn in mood. The last 2 minutes of the track are very psychedelic and proggy, eventually building into an intense finale, all the while Gavin pushing his vocals to the limit, absolutely awesome! The instrumental song after this is not to be missed! Very atmospheric and trippy, even using a cello near the end of the track, brilliant!

One complaint would have to be the 2 minutes or so of noise after "Traversing Through the Arctic Cold, We Search for the Spirit of Yuta" ("Intermission" is not actually a song, but the noise after the 5th track) It never really seems to go anywhere and seems like filler to me.

The track listing on the site says the 9th track "Movement V: 90 Hour Sleep" is actually 20 minutes, but dont be fooled! Its actually only 2 minutes and the rest is dead air until the secret song, which really isnt anything special but odd jams in the studio. Though it would have been nice if the song was 20 minutes long, because it is an excellent song!

A highly recommended debut, and essential for anybody wanting to get into dredg!


Review by FishyMonkey
4 stars This was the last Dredg album I bought, and after hearing the excellence of El Cielo, Dredg jumped into my top 10 favorite bands easily. Therefore, when I bought this, I naturally had high expectations. Did they meet my expectations? No, mostly because the 20 minute song isn't much of a song, but otherwise, this a good, solid album, especially for a debut.

This debut shows, as another review said, shows a younger, more aggressive Dredg still looking for that perfect sound. Indeed this album, shows the band fiddling with many different styles in a rather unrefined, rough way, but still succeeding to varying degrees. All the songs are still short, still send you on a trip, use many different sounds and styles, and this is a concept album. All that's different is that this album is much more aggressive, much less refined, and overall lacks that magic touch that was in El Cielo. It is, however, by no means a bad album. In fact, it's a very good album.

Most of the album, is, as I said, very aggressive and very emotional. There are two songs, though, that have more of the feel felt throughout El Cielo, and those are Lechium and Traversing The Arctic Cold, We Search For The Spirit of Yuta. Lechium resembles Of The Room, although longer and more desperate in tone. At around 3:45 the song has a great quiet moment of soft crooning from Gavin. Then the guitar comes in and the song starts bulding, and BOOM! It explodes. Gavin starts screaming slightly, then the main refrain, then it's over. Great powerful song. Traversing... is a little more experimental, and has a cool guitar part throughout. There are no words, just ooohs and aaahs softly in the background, and overall, this song is kinda hard to explain. The last two minutes, are unfortunately noise.

The three other non-Movement songs are all very aggressive. The most aggressive song, and definitely the most aggressive song Dredg has ever done is Penguins in the Desert (they have some strange obsession with this reference to penguins in the desert). Gavin starts out full out screaming, then songs a kinda rough melody. The song chills out for a bit, then goes heavy again and finishes like that.

The opener, which is actually Symbol Song, not Movement 1, is heavy and repetitive and quite catchy. It starts out with noice then a cool guitar theme and good drumming, and builds off that. Yatahaze is a real good song in the vein of Lechium, except more straight forward.

As for the movements, they're all pretty standard and just serve as transitions. Most likely, you won't even notice it's a different song. RR is pretty cool, actually, as is Lyndon, but the other ones, transitions. They're not filler though at all.

Overall, a very solid album. I like it more than Catch Without Arms, but less than El Cielo. I'll give it a solid 4/5. Good stuff, dredg.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars I was really surprised at how different this record is with the next one "El Cielo". I mean even the vocals sound so different. They are intense to screaming on this one, while on "El Cielo" they are so smooth, so appealing. Funny thing is I actually like both styles, i'm drawn to both. What a transformation though ! DREDG is what i would have called an Alternative band on this one. I wouldn't refer to them as Alternative now though, not at all. This was the first studio album by DREDG, and I like it.

"Lechium" is a great song, the guitar at the 4 minute mark sounds so cool, it's hard to describe. Song 5 has a nice groove to it, with vocals that are off in the distance. "Penguins In The Desert" really rocks with heavy guitar riffs and intense vocals that switch to mellow then back to hard. The instumental song that follows is atmospheric with a hypnotizing beat. "Yatahaze" is another highlight for me. An earnest song with aggressive vocals.

A nice debut from DREDG.

Review by OpethGuitarist
2 stars The rebirth?

Dredg is often cited as being a band that could inspire the rebirth of prog. While certainly having a distinct sound, much of it is all too mainstream for my tastes. Leitmotif is their most "angry" release and sounds not to dissimilar from many hardcore bands. Largely because of this, and the last track on the record, I find this release to be very immature and naive.

Now, I don't mean that in an insulting way, as if the members themselves are deviants; but rather, that they really didn't know what to do with the record, so they took the "safe route" by adding the hardcore connections. Essentially, much of this is unnecessary. It seems they took this path so that the record was sellable, rather than because it was the musical choices they wanted to take.

There is a substantial amount of "groove" on this record, which does help it. Unfortunately, the out of place aggression severely hurts the album, as it seems disingenuous and lacks emotion - seeming much more fake than moving (yes, how ironic, seeing as this band is often considered emo-prog). The closer of the album doesn't help, which should have just been wiped completely from the record.

I won't argue with other collabs as to El Cielo being the better record. However, much of this does not suit me, and if as others say, this is the future of prog, and we see bands spawn in a similar vein to this, I can't help but be a bit disappointed.

Review by Prog-jester
3 stars That was DREDG’s beginning. Here they are still an Alternative band with some Prog leanings (unusual arrangements, top-notch playing and good quality of material), with some nice songs, but rarely captivating. Most of the album is inspired by TOOL’s anger and played with SYSTEM OF A DOWN’s hysteria. I prefer their last release (“Catch without Arms”), which is more Modern Rock- determined (close to KEANE, COLDPLAY etc), less nervous and more polished, but “Leitmotif” will definitely please lovers of aggressive and even garage sound and manner. Prog-Punk? Yep, exactly, but in a more intelligent way.
Review by ProgBagel
4 stars Dredg ? 'Leitmotif' 4 stars

The creativity for a 'complete' album started here.

Nice for a band with alternative roots to start a well thought out concept album. This is an unpolished dredg album, which is a stranger to any of their other work. Gavin's signature vocals are completely absent to which is not necessarily a bad thing, because he can certainly get the aggression out, much like the music has. Speaking of, this is truly a heavy album, the guitar is extremely fuzzy and the drums are loud, it's a pretty tight album instrumentally. The album has this general sound throughout with a catch here and there, but that is what a dredg album is usually all about. Plenty of reviewers have given the comparison to the angry side of Tool which I entirely agree with. It was an excellent listen, it is what it is, a well conceptualized alternative album.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars After two EP's, dREDG released this debut album which is quite better produced and also written. The music discovered here is quite on hard edge but that's OK. As far as I am concerned, I can see some similarities with "Muse": furious guitar, heavy drumming, sweet passages followed by an ocean of violence. It is somewhat grunge reminiscent at times as well.

Actually, the whole works pretty well this time. "Lechium" is especially good even is the drumming sounds quite raw (but that's a major complaint I would do about this album). Great guitar work on "Traversing Through?" is to be mentioned. Still, the last two minutes are quite dispensable (these are noises, not music)

Most of the songs are rather energetic even heavy at times ("Penguins In The Desert"). Vocals are also quite annoying during this song (but it is the first so far in this album). But even during this song, there are quiet passages which are balancing the whole jolly good.

I am not very impressed by these "Movements", which are only short breaks or interludes that are spread throughout the album (the last one being extended to over twenty minutes but in fact only two of these are musically filled). The fourth one is particularly weak IMO.

The last track "Yatahaze" is another "Muse/Radiohead" oriented track which adds another emotional touch to this good album. Three stars.

Review by 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

Latest members reviews

2 stars Alternative rock with raw vocals? Why not if there are other compensating controls such as: Great songwriting, instrumental diversity, creativity or a desire to experiment. Out of these, only the latest one is present. The album has undeniably a great dose of energy, there are sonic differences i ... (read more)

Report this review (#2858745) | Posted by sgtpepper | Sunday, December 18, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I really like this album a lot. Sometimes it sounds sort of like your average alternative band. Sometimes you definitely get a post-metallish feel. Like Tool or Pelican. This is a raw and angry Dredg. There is some intense screaming but in my opinion it never crosses over the line into being an ... (read more)

Report this review (#171212) | Posted by digdug | Friday, May 16, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Dredg - Leitmotif Dredg's debut album, Leitmotif, is certainly an album to be proud of. The album features a rough-hewn sound that Dredg has yet to revisit in their later career, and, thus, is quite a unique product in the Dredg catalogue. The album, musically and lyrically, tells a lofty tale ... (read more)

Report this review (#171113) | Posted by Figglesnout | Thursday, May 15, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Leitmotif is a strong debut for dredg, despite sounding more like alternative and hard rock than progressive rock. I thought this album was good on my first listen, but it took me a few more listens to really get into it. There is not a weak song on Leitmotif. I really enjoy some of the track ... (read more)

Report this review (#106429) | Posted by darkmatter | Sunday, January 7, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Leitmotif is slightly better than their first effort(Orph)...Proggy elements are finally noticed and production is a bit clearer(still though , nothing exceptional).Musically dredg experiment with different kinds of music ,mixing alternative rock with a more hardcore point of view (especially ... (read more)

Report this review (#89922) | Posted by Angeldust | Monday, September 18, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A debut that will surprise those discovering dredg's catalogue in reverse. Leitmotif falls closer to prog-metal than art rock with dredg showing their heavy Tool influence. dredg will avoid any comparison to post-rock here, and they won't be admired for their ethereal landscapes. Instead, you' ... (read more)

Report this review (#84036) | Posted by Equality 7-2521 | Tuesday, July 18, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album is the first of the dredg albums it is very different then el cielo, it's alittle more aggresive but every song is good. Leitmotif is a great addion to any prog. rock fan or a dredg fan but it is very hard to find. ... (read more)

Report this review (#45615) | Posted by | Monday, September 5, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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