I Forgot to Acknowledge Dreadnought and We’re Worse Off Because of It: A Review
Do you ever forget things? I sure do. More than usual lately, which is not good for a brain that was wired in the early 90’s. Planned obsolescence is a bitch these days. Anyway, I have known that Dreadnought’s A Wake in Sacred Waves was a groundbreaking album for almost two months now, and here we are, two-ish weeks after the release, and I am finally getting around to telling you about it.
Black, doom, atmospheric, and prog metal all jammed into one thing could be a total fucking disaster. Dreadnought managed not only to not screw it up, but to actually make it phenomenal. This quartet from Colorado shows unreal mastery of both typical and unusual instruments, including sax, mandolin, and flute. Their third LP, Wake has a water theme that is translated perfectly by the mix of audial serenity and crushing pressure.
With guitarist Kelly Schilling and keyboardist Lauren Vieira swapping vocal duties throughout the runtime, you get a desperate shriek and a lullaby timbre for a range that the instrumentation requires. The drums sound incredible; every quick tap of the foot compresses your eardrums and gives them some exercise. The constant change in pace provides ample opportunity for some highly impressive fills and flourishes. The keyboard flips between a slightly discordant grand piano and a wobbly-modulated synth, providing the landscape for both the surface and depths; two sides of the same coin. The guitar is the glue that ties all these weird choices together, rarely standing out by itself, but serving as the aether that allows everything to exist in the first place.
Given the ridiculous length of the four tracks, you’re bound to experience some fatigue when the scene is being set, especially for those of us that lean towards the heavy, but ultimately these sections make them stand out as a truly progressive band. There’s experimentation mixed with pummeling aggression, there’s emotional complexity tied into the shifts in intensity, there’s purpose in every line. Luckily, for us with short attention spans, there are pretty clear transitions where a song break could be. A sax in an empty warehouse, a flute over a limping rhythm, or angelic gobbledegook all cleanse the palate before your next taste of Dreadnought (aka, their core sound). Personally, a little less of the ethereal and a little more blasting would have made this a perfect album for me, but it comes pretty damn close anyway.
Speaking of forgetting, I also forgot to come up with a gimmick for this review to draw it out a bit, but I have fulfilled my self-imposed obligation to get the word out there. This band is great.