Dredg explores some new ground with old formulas on their impressive new release, The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion. Their former record and my personal favorite, Catch Without Arms, disappointed some hardcore fans who were expecting another Leifmotif or El Cielo. The album took a complete 180 from previous work and explored more accessible and pop-driven areas of Dredg’s creative palette. This time around, the format is similar to El Cielo, as the record includes an epic 18-tracks. Just as El Cielo segued with instrumental interludes labeled as “Movements,” Dredg calls these interludes (there are vocals) “Stamps of Origin” this time. The segues on El Cielo were often very strong additions to that record and served well as the glue tying the concept and cohesiveness of the album as a digestible whole. That’s not the case as much with The Pariah. The band’s sound is not much different than the previous effort, Catch Without Arms. Although this record is not as instantly impressive as that release, there is much here to like.
Dredg has left major lable Interscope and releases their new album on indie outfit Ohlone Recordings. The album cover takes the form of a letter, including concept-related postage. Dredg has always been a bit “out there” with the themes of their records. El Cielo was inspired and based entirely on the painting “Sleep Paralysis” by Salvador Dali. The effort resulted in 16-tracks that used sleep paralysis as the central theme. This time around the inspiration is a Salmon Rushdie essay, entitled A Letter to the Sixth Billionth Citizen. The album was dedicated to Deftone’s bassist Chi Cheng, who was in a serious accident during the time Dredg was recording. As of today, Cheng is still in a coma.
The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion starts off strong with the melodic and guitar-driven track “Pariah.” The song begins with the sound of children singing a harmony over a repeating piano rhythm but quickly turns to heavy guitar riffs and off-beat drumming. The song finally progresses to Dredg’s signature anthemic vocal chorus. One of the album’s two instrumentals follows with “Drunk-Slide”. However, the second instrumental, “Long Days and Vague Clues” is an epic track and album highlight, deserving of Grammy consideration for best instrumental at year’s end. A track that Dredg has been playing for sometime now live, “Ireland,” follows. The ballad-like track brings Dredg back to their El Cielo era with majestic guitars and a sweeping chorus.
Additional album highlights include “The Information,” Dredg’s most accessible song to date. “Saviour,” the album’s first single exhibits a louder, guitar-heavy sound more reminiscent of Dredg’s earlier recordings. “I Don’t Know” is another pop-friendly track that features spiritual overtones and revisits Dredg’s El Cielo sound. “Mourning This Morning” is funk-inspired guilty pleasure similar to “Zebraskin” off of Catch Without Arms. The album’s most unique and impressive track takes the form of “Quotes.” The song clocks in at at epic six minutes and takes more musical tangents than a Girl Talk track. The lyrics of lead singer Gavin Hayes are a standout here:
Our sobriety will diminish
Discriminate we fade slow, fade slow
These drugs will expand us
United we will grow
The overall critical response to The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion has been mostly positive and deservedly so. One of the few problems with The Pariah is its length. El Cielo was a excellent but tedious listen, as is this album. The Stamp of Origin tracks do not tie everything together as neatly as they did with the former and seem more like intermissions than interludes. Although the album does contain some filler, the majority of the record does support the fact that Dredg is still an important and relevant band. The band has scored a co-headlining tour with Rx Bandits and supporting act Zech Marchis (featuring Marcel Lopez-Rodriguez from The Mars Volta).