DREADNOUGHT – Emergence
- by ER
- Posted on 20-05-2019
Dreadnought is a battleship, especially of the World War I era, in which most of the firepower is concentrated in large guns that are of the same caliber, but how this relates to the Denver ensemble is unclear. The concept behind "Emergence" is the cycle of re-birth, also known as reincarnation, if you believe that sort of thing. With each life, according to the concept, fire, described both as a destroyer and purifier, makes a tried soul truer, better, stronger, wiser, a process contained in five tracks. "Besieged" describes the relation between disastrous events in life and the elements dissolved with intense heat, and the earth and its works burned up (2 Peter 3:10), the track, despite being comparatively shorter, already revealing the compositional problem which will only magnify with longer tracks: Lauren Vieira’s female croons and gentle key/piano atmospherics fighting for space with Kelly Schilling’s harsh vocals and near black metal guitars, instead of coexisting akin to Opeth or Borgnagar, or even aforementioned Enslaved. "Still" is a reflection on the merciless persistence of time which robs one of life’s joy, perhaps alluding to the Buddhist impermanence problem, musically, the shortest and the gentlest song, just Lauren and her instruments with a slight droney background. The raging/purifying fire challenges the soul to not escape from it into fantasy and fiction, or psycho-stimulants, or even religion, while in "Pestilent" wisdom is gained through reincarnation, even though few actually gain insight into past lives except through hypnosis. Musically, "Pestilent" is a huge violent concoction of blackgaze pillared by My Dying Bride-ian "The Price Of Beauty" riffs interspersed with Lauren’s keys and piano, as the divide between light and dark ever grows wider towards the end of the first half.
The very sensual "Tempered" suddenly approaches this elusive balance, the moment where "suffering shows the tested genuineness of your trust, which is more precious than gold that perishes even though it is tested by fire, and will be found to result in praise and glory and honor" (1 Peter 1:7, REV), wickedly, though it rather resembles sexual intercourse, musically the catchiest composition recalling Dark Tranquillity and Be’lakor for a more melodeath riffing and for all of the above reasons becoming a favorite. The final chapter, "The Waking Realm", which seeks to inspire trust in the conceptual refiner’s fire, showcases the aforementioned piano-forte divide so wide that it probably should have been two separate tracks. The listener should not have to wait/wade through 6:50 minutes of a 13:52 minute track to finally hear an electrical guitar unless this were Opeth’s "Damnation" album. The second half of the song is mighty violent and extreme as if to make up for the first half and there are two noteworthy melodies at 12:00 and 12:30 mark before the great closure, which leaves me with a final reflection which may have escaped the authors of "Emergence".
Not everyone reacts positively to the pressure of suffering. True, some may emerge stronger but the fire burns up mercilessly the weak and the broken. Of, course, it could be that the fire will simply burn and consume what it will and it is up to the soul to respond for its own good or destruction, as I suspect might be the conceptual point of "Emergence". But the album’s inconsistencies and imperfections eerily mirror that very process of refining in the purifier, the two opening tracks rather weak, getting stronger and reaching apogeum at "Tempered", Lauren unmistakably uttering an orgasmic moan, finally relaxed and unraveled for the closer, which lets her breathe deeply and calmly for over six minutes before Kelly, Jordan Clancy (drums, saxophone) and Kevin Handlon (bass), unleash the most extreme and violent crescendo of all things considered. And despite only five tracks, the final receding notes at 13:52 mark come welcome for the weary listener, who, despite expertly having utilized the fine tooth comb and a magnifying glass, found moments of melody and harmony with no hope on the bottom, as if to spite the legendary Pandora’s box. In the end, perhaps the effect is rather that of a vessel hit with a dreadnought’s firepower – a slow, nightmarish descent to the bottom of the ocean with the crew either burnt alive or drowned or both.
The 4th Dreadnought album is a mixed bag. The concept of "Emergence" is worthy of looking into, the overall vocal and instrumentation output – including Kevin’s bass, Clancy’s drums and saxophone – praiseworthy, Andy Patterson’s (Subrosa) production and James Plotkin’s mastering – commendable. But the compositions, for a band on its 4th full length, with over 6 years of experience, are too unfocused and apparently haphazard, seemingly without attention or care paid to keeping the momentum or listener’s interest. Was it on purpose? Either way you answer that question it doesn’t show Dreadnought in too a favorable light.