When allied to a sonic experience the term ‘Dreadnought‘ usually alludes to a bruising encounter with little imagination or subtlety. Not so the Denver quartet bearing that name, whose brand of Prog Metal is an eclectic mix of the weird, heavy and profoundly charming, and which spans many genres of music.
Fourth album Emergence (Profound Lore Records) is an exercise in discovery, syncopated drum rolls fighting to find the rhythm for opener ‘Besieged’ before settling into a gorgeous lull which perfectly suits the honeyed harmonies of Kelly Schilling and Laura Vieira. Odd piano riffs enhance the impact of every chord, every note, and dictate an involving Jazz/post-Rock ebb and flow around intense, Blackened choruses: those incredibly complex paradiddles messing deliciously with the brain.
There’s an element of embryonic Liverpudlian trio Exploring Birdsong about the soulful, adventurous nature here. ‘Still’ is a haunting period of Chamber Doom circumspection which is largely governed by a grave, resonant strings, gloriously underpinning Schilling’s Kate Bush-like vocal delivery. This gives way to the crushing waves of ‘Pestilent’: that lazy Torch delivery the salt to the scattergun pepper of the Karnivool-flavoured rhythmic frenzy. More obsidian roars counteract the Post-rock jangles, ingredients of the track seemingly at odds with each other yet somehow defining the tenuous links. Flute and sax flurries carry swirling atmospheres to a wistful mid-section which culminates in subtle yet mighty drums and sombre piano which, together with those harrowed screams, miraculously blend like cheese and biscuits. It’s a truly glorious and moving act whose scenes travel the gamut of human emotion.
The early stages of ‘Tempered’ prove aptly named, its burning rhythm section and riff given dainty reins by a soaring falsetto and old-fashioned organ before exploding into a black chaos. Again the introspective centrepoint is entrancing, hypnotic yet busy, those delectable harmonies a siren song against intricate flourishes of tubthumping and myriad switches in both tempo and melody. An element of Septicflesh madness governs the latter stages, yet whimsy is avoided by the sheer artistry of the protagonists with all manner of instruments clashing to provide a beautiful noise. Closer ‘The Waking Realm’ issues forth with a return to that haunting, Torch-like delicacy: more eerie piano blending with gentle yet frenetic drums, the energy gradually building in squalling riffs and a pared-back yet pulsing mass. This is skilfully yet organically restrained as it threatens to catch fire until it finally breaks free for a dazzling, frosted denouement.
The world of Dreadnought is a truly inventive, strange yet attractive one which appeals to lovers of both soft and harsh metal. Emergence is a true tour de force that offers something fresh and delightful with each visit.
8 / 10