Written By: Ben Millikan
Band names are usually always somewhat of a mystery. Their origins tend to be uncertain; their meanings ambiguous. But if the San Francisco-based rock band, Dredg chose its name based on the verbal definition of dredge (to unearth or widen a river or channel), its meaning fits perfectly when one listens to their latest album and realizes the band has in fact widened the river of progressive rock music.
Encompassed in an eighteen track journey (totaling an impressive sixty minutes of music), “The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion,” Dredg’s fourth studio release in over four years, is just that: a journey; a sort of fragmented dream that when listened to from start to finish, connects the many diverse aspects of the album.
The glue that holds it all together are the four instrumental songs. Far from being “fillers,” these powerful musical intervals showcase the bands unique range of musical styles. Whether it be the technical, electronica groove of “Drunk Slide,” the contemplative feel of “R U O K,” the dark, macabre riffs in “Long Days and Vague Clues,” or the anthem-like power behind “Down to The Cellar,” Dredge is able to effectively combine the different elements and produce engaging songs that act as more than just mere segues.
This also holds true for the four “Stamp Of Origin” tracks. Singing along to a recurring keyboard line, vocalist Gavin Hayes uses these brief one to two minute passages to drop a few thought-provoking lines inspired by a Salman Rushdie essay, Letter to the Six Billionth Person: “I am not the one to blame / We are all part of the problem / Damper your complaint / We are all, we are all to blame.”
As for the rest of the album, the members of Dredg have proven that they can evolve as a band and still remain loyal to the sound that gave them their start. The soaring, melodic vocals of Gavin Hayes are still prominent and show greater range than previous records. That warm, ethereal tone that guitarist Mark Engles is known for producing is still strong, just rolled back a bit, giving more room for keys and other instruments in the mix. Bassist Drew Roulette helped hold down the low end on the heavier songs like “Savior” and “I Don’t Know.” And drummer Dino Campanella managed double duty by not only laying down beats, but providing piano riffs as well.
Although it may be long overdue, The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion is a solid record. Rather than just put out a conventional eleven or twelve track album, the band was able to create more of a story, complete with lyrical and instrumental themes that occur throughout.