"We're getting older," declares Dredg vocalist Gavin Hayes on Mourning This Morning; and given the impressive progression with their new album The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion, the line perhaps best sums it up. On their latest opus, Dredg has managed to meld the sweeping and adventurous traits of El Cielo with Catch Without Arms' accessibility. Creative growth this rewarding is always expected (or at least hoped for) from bands known to put out albums with no less than three, four, even five years in between, but is not fulfilled nearly as often.
The first thing you notice about this album is how tight the musicianship has become, particularly how well Mark Engles' guitar and Hayes' harmonizing compliment each other - not to mention that this album easily features Hayes' best vocals yet. On Ireland he switches effortlessly from gently crooning the verse and pre-chorus to passionately belting out the chorus, and his vocal hook on the single Saviour is sure to get butchered countless times in cars, showers, and wherever else a fan might be compelled to burst into song (I was never good at guessing places like this while watching Family Feud).
Immediately, from the first notes of the opener Pariah, you can tell that they've lost none of the melody displayed on their previous effort, 2005's Catch Without Arms. It took the band in an interesting direction, despite the backlash from fans over the pop influence; perhaps even more than previous releases, it answered the question "If Muse and The Mars Volta could have a baby, what would it sound like?"
After the luring piano-driven melancholy of the opener (and that fantastic chorus!), we're treated to one of the many instrumental interludes spread throughout the album, which account for a great deal of the seemingly staggering but easily digestible 18-track-listing. Drunk Slide is a highly intriguing, slightly menacing piece which, while sounding nothing like either of the songs that sandwich it (the other being Ireland), manages to ensure a seamless transition. Transition is the proverbial name of the game with this album - the songs, as different as many of them are, flow so smoothly that the hour long running time slips by with suprising quickness. The sudden despondency of the second interlude, Stamp of Origin: Pessimistic leading so unpretentiously into the dirty-blues beat driven first half of Light Switch, is truly a testament to the band's strong writing, as is the clever justaposition of an alternating, unique time signature with a poppy chorus in Gathering Pebbles. On paper, The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion should be an absolute mess; a funk laced, syncopated song like Mourning This Morning (showcasing Dino Campanella's impressive, criminally underrated drumming) sharing an album with the aggressive post-grunge of Saviour should not work. But it does, and so smoothly in fact that it sounds as though it shouldn't be any other way. That is the beauty of Dredg's new effort, and frankly it's what every progressive rock album should accomplish.