I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by saying the percentage of metal record that truly are interesting through and through are on the low side. I don’t mean there aren’t a slew of very satisfying, really good records and bands out there, but ones that really gab your attention and take you places you rarely travel are in small numbers.
Maybe that’s a good thing. Not every record can be a cinematic wonder, and if you had a ton of bands trying to push all of the boundaries, it might get a little insane out there. Plus, it’s better that we leave all of that mind expansion to bands who do it right such as Denver-based Dreadnought. There are going to be people out there who question whether this band is metal at all, and I can understand that. Sort of. As things get heavier and more aggressive (to a ridiculous point sometimes), we forget that classic bands didn’t have to go full throttle all the time. They stretched out, added new colors, and proved their might in many ways other than volume. Same with Dreadnought. There are elements of doom and black metal simmering here, but those aren’t dominant traits. There also is jazz, spirited prog rock, and even elements of indie pop on their stunning new record “Bridging Realms,” and it was during a drive home from a show one night, on a repeated listen to this collection, that it struck me just how powerful, moving, and flat-out interesting these five songs are. I got caught up and swept away, making that drive home feel like it took one minute instead of 30.
“Bridging Realms” is the band’s second record, with their first “Lifewoven” having landed in 2013. This group could reach out a slew of music fans especially the ones whose collections lean to the metal side but contain a little of everything. This band—Kelly Schilling (guitar, flute, vocals), Jordan Clancy (drums sax), Kevin Handlon (bass, mandolin, lyrics), and Lauren Vieira (keys, clean vocals)—kind of sound like how it might is ISIS and Eisley smashed together and formed a union that also fed off a hankering for Kate Bush and the Moody Blues. There is plenty of volcanic stuff here and vocals that savagely go for the throat. But there is so much texture, psychedelic skies bursting with colors, and epic peaks staring down at hellish valleys that each moment of the journey is riveting and exciting.
The record begins with “Ode to Ether,” a song that clues you in right away that this band is something different altogether. There is brassy exploration at the front end of this 10:22 mission, later letting voices flutter and the atmosphere to stretch out like a dream. It opens up fully about halfway through, with harsh shrieks raining down, guitars getting daring, and a proggy transmission poking through the storm. Things chill a bit, with clean singing leading the way, only to enter into a total psyche haze that’ll have you seeing colors. The track keeps bending and progressing, leading into windy sentiments and finally being swept off into the distance. “Odyssey” is the longest track at 14:01, opening with pianos drizzling and adventurous singing marching through, paying dividends on that Kate Bush comparison. The track keeps bounding over strange fields until the guitars fire up harder and the vocals turn to deadly growls. The next few minutes, hammers are dropped continuously until they make way for another cool front and angelic vocal harmonies. The section takes on a New Age enlightenment vibe, like you’re searching for your real self in your mind, as the song winds down and flutes carry you off to distant clouds. “Minuet de Lune” is the “short” track of the bunch, clocking in at 6:12 and building itself on smeary keys, a gentle flow, a prog-groove section that pops out later, and a, dare I say, hippie sentiment that implore you to haze out but also give in to the churning guitar work and space zaps that splash in at the end.
“Transpiration” starts its 10:32 run in a dreamy fashion, as the song feels like it coasts over the skies, letting you first see the vast array of ground below before you meet up with murky fronts. Gritty guitars start to boil, even amid a jazzy counterbalance of melody, but then that all comes to a head and halts for a blinding infusion of saxophone. From there, the track flows fluidly and with more breeze, feeling rather sophisticated and letting the members truly explore their entire space. Things build to a head, and sounds burst, with glimmering, soaring playing, intoxicating madness, and cosmic spoils that feel like stardust is raining down upon you. The 11:31-long closing title cut has a jamming start, with the band stretching their limbs and settling into a misty, dexterous bit that precedes the gut-wrenching guitar work emerging. We get another deep psychedelic mind explosion, complete with unhinged wails that dig deep within, burly riffs, and before it becomes raucous and damaged again, a jazz-infused cloud cover settles in. The final moments of the track let all elements grow volcanic, with guitars charring serenity, the playing prodding, and beams of earthly and space light tearing through and illuminating all. It’s a rousing finish to what’s a triumph of an album.
Even if I really like a band’s record, I don’t become a fan of every group I write about. Dreadnought unquestionably is one that has me in line as a devotee. “Bridging Realms” is an unreal experience, a record that never gives you the same confrontation twice, and a collection of songs that shows this band coming into their own. Dreadnought are writing their own story, allowing in the influences that move them (and not the masses), and have a huge future ahead if they keep making music like this. Metal doesn’t always have to be wall-to-wall brutal. It can live, dream, and breathe, a lesson we all can learn from the awesome Dreadnought.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/dreadnoughtband
To buy the album, go here: https://dreadnoughtdenver.bandcamp.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://sailorrecords.com/