Dreadnought- Bridging Realms

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I’m really not sure how I hadn’t come across Denver’s Dreadnought previously, considering just how much of an impression their sophomore effort Bridging Realms has made on me over the past few weeks. It’s one of those albums that keeps you guessing from one moment to the next, exploring everything from sweeping progressive post/rock to harsher doom and black metal. But unlike some of the others out there that simply go for a kitchen sink approach and move too quickly from one style to the next, Dreadnought’s arrangements build in layers and reach stunning climaxes while moving all around the musical spectrum. With plenty of jaw dropping moments and a sound that’s impossible to simply lump into one particular genre, Bridging Realms is an album people are likely to still be listening to for months to come.

The instrumentals start off at the lighter end of the spectrum as opener “Ode to Ether” begins, and what most of you will likely notice first is that this group has a lot of additional instruments being played. Flute and saxophone pour softly out of your speakers before giving way to airier guitar and keyboard work. During my first listen the mellower build-up early on gave me the impression that Dreadnought was going to offer up a mixture of haunting folk with some atmospheric progressive/post rock that had plenty of twists and turns, but I wasn’t prepared for what was still to come. Four and a half minutes into “Ode to Ether” the guitars suddenly up the distortion and hit with some much louder riffs that are much closer to sludge/doom. It was completely unexpected, and transitions like these from the entrancing, sweeping melodies to more abrasive sections are handled in a way that makes this album feel truly different. Each of the arrangements are fairly lengthy, with four of the five stretching past the ten minute mark, but no time is ever wasted and every element is so fluid that you can tell Dreadnought spent a good deal of time fine tuning everything. But what I like the most is how much emotion is present throughout Bridging Realms. This is music that expresses a wide range of emotions and moods, and there are some jazzier, playful sections during songs like “Odyssey” that provide a much more cheerful vibe before the instrumentation moves towards a more introspective, somber tone later on. It demands your full attention, but gives so much back in return and I’ve still found myself discovering new elements to the instrumental work each time through.

Lauren Vieira and Kelly Schilling both contribute vocals to Bridging Realms, though Vieira’s cleaner range gets a bit more of the spotlight. This makes sense, considering that the more abrasive sections come in waves and tend to be used to add some extra nuance to the material rather than being the primary focus. It also gives Dreadnought a very different feel from the metal bands out there that use melodic instrumentation but keep their vocals at a harsher scream the entire time, as there is a lot more depth to the performances here. During some of the jazzier sections the singing takes on a similar feel, while other moments find the pitches coming through as ethereal and capable of sending chills down your spine. When Schilling adds in much harsher shrieks and screams it completely fills out the sound, and showcases that this band is just as capable at the abrasive blasts that one looks for in metal.

There’s plenty more I could say about this record, but the nuances are best left to discover for yourself during an in-depth listening session. Dreadnought has touched upon both progressive/post rock’s sweeping instrumentation and adventurous compositions along with a healthy dose of intensity and bursts of different metal styles, but they accomplish this in a way that feels different from the norm. Bridging Realms is a clear album of the year candidate, and the sheer amount of nuances and additional instruments that break through will keep listeners wanting to explore each and every sound for quite some time.


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