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El Cielo

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Reviews

Average Rating
★★★★½
(174 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • to truely appreciate this album, you must understand everything about it. after reading this, hopefully you will understand why this isn’t just a regular ol’ album.

    first of all, let’s discuss the themes of the album. The main theme is sleep paralysis, which is a natural bodily function which prevents us from hurting ourselves or others in our sleep. however, when it follows us into our waking moments, it becomes a disorder. Sleep paralysis, or more properly, sleep paralysis with hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations have been singled out as a particularly likely source of beliefs concerning not only alien abductions, but all manner of beliefs in alternative realities and otherworldly creatures. Sleep paralysis is a condition in which someone, most often lying in a supine position, about to drop off to sleep, or just upon waking from sleep realizes that s/he is unable to move, speak, or cry out. This may last a few seconds or several moments, occasionally longer. People frequently report feeling a ‘presence’ that is often described as malevolent, threatening, or evil. An intense sense of dread and terror is very common. The presence is likely to be vaguely felt or sensed just out of sight but thought to be watching or monitoring, often with intense interest, sometimes standing by, or sitting on, the bed. On some occasions the presence may attack, strangling and exerting crushing pressure on the chest. People also report auditory, visual, proprioceptive, and tactile hallucinations, as well as floating sensations and out-of-body experiences.

    i’m too lazy to talk about the other themes (which aren’t as prominent as the above theme) so i will move onto the painting. according to the rules and regulations of Amazon.com, i cannot post a URL. so right now, go to a search engine and type in “Dream Caused By The Flight Of A Bee Around A Pomegranate One Second Before Awakening”. That is the painting the entire album of El Cielo is based upon. If you know anything about Salvador Dali, you know that many of his paintings were based upon subconcioius and dreamstate ideas. He often described his paintings as “hand painted dream photographs.” this painting is mostly based on sleep paralysis, and that what happends to a dreamer in reality affects his dreams. i highly recommend reading up about this painting more before listening to El Cielo.

    Now to tie all of above into the album. The first track of the album is called “dcbtfoabaaposba” which stands for “Dream Caused By The Flight Of A Bee Around A Pomegranate One Second Before Awakening”. The main sound you hear is Drew, the bass player, painting on a canvas.

    Tracks 2-9 contain small references to sleep paralysis, which i could talk about, but this review is already too long.

    Track 10 is called “scissor lock” and is the only song that is completely and blantently about sleep paralysis. It contains many of the sounds that are heard during sleep paralysis, and the lyrics specificly talk about stuff like “body’s asleep and our mind is awake.”

    Track 16 is called “the canyon behind her.” The intro to this song has a woman speaking Japanese. Translated, she says “This album was inspired by a painting titled: “Dream Caused By The Flight Of A Bee Around A Pomegranate One Second Before Awakening”. It is recommend that you view this painting as you listen to ‘El Cielo’. It is as if one stimulus awakens other senses. In other words, it’s about “drawing music.”

    So why do you care about all of that? Hopefully, that gives you a small glimps of the kind of how dredg creates art in the form of modern rock. I highly suggest you read a full blown analysis of this album (i have read several and they have increased my appreciation of the band completely).

    Posted on February 10, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • This album has officially found its way under my skin. Every moment of every song is engaging, energizing and simply beautiful. I haven’t heard such amazing production in a long time. The rhythm section is so tight throughout, the guitar and bass offset each other flawlessly, and the vocals and synth just float beautifully over everything. The result is a swirling aural journey of emotions and textures, meticulously crafted and perfectly timed. Even the liner art is stunning. Anyone who loves music that makes their hairs stand on end should own this. As most of the reviewers here suggest, listen to it a few times. Giving this album a little initial hope is a small price to pay when you discover the hope that this band brings to the world of music, rock especially. Dredg and El Cielo have the rare ability to suddenly *click* with you after more than one listen, and after that click it only gets better. I love every track on this album, and that’s saying a lot considering there are 16 in all. Favorites that come to mind are Sanzen, Triangle, 18 People Living in Harmony, Of The Room and Convalescent. The ‘brushstrokes’ are great segues and add perfectly to the flow of the album as a whole. Leitmotif showed us what Dredg were capable of, and they have evolved so much since then. As someone else mentioned here, it is indeed scary to imagine what could possibly come next from these outstanding musicians.

    Posted on February 10, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Dredg’s _El Cielo_ is one of the most fascinating discs I have had the pleasure of hearing, and is, without a doubt, the best blind buy I’ve made in quite some time. Gavin Hayes has a wonderful palette of colors in his voice to paint the lyrics with. His voice, matched with the bands superb playing, makes it hard for the listener to not become completely enraptured within the music.

    The overall mood of the album is one that takes the listener to a different state of mind. It’s a bit subdued while at the same time uplifting. The vocals throughout the album are haunting, yet soaring and almost spiritual at times. Hayes really reminds me of Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth at times (not to deter anyone that isn’t a fan of Opeth, because the sound of the band is nothing like the aforementioned band). The drummer, Dino Campanella, compromises very well; it seems as if he is very interested in tribal drumming, because it’s definitely reflective in his style. It is somewhat repetitive (in his bass drum and tom work), yet always fresh because he has the ability of adding small cymbal splashes and intricate ride cymbal work, throughout. I don’t want to make it sound like he’s uninspired, which is how that description came off. He’s incredibly tasteful and always fresh. The guitar work by Mark Engles is very atmospheric, as if to add another color, rather than to be a separate instrument, which is how everything on the album comes off sounding, same goes for the bass guitar work [Drew Roulette], it all melds together to form this wonderful sound that is, undeniably, Dredg. I can’t think of another band that sounds like them, and in this case, it is a wonderful thing. They are creating a sound that is truly unique, which isn’t an easy feat to tackle.

    Each song could stand alone and sound fantastic, but one thing that really stands out on the the album is the use of instrumental sections to break up the core tracks of the album. They are instrumentals with the title “Brushstroke” and followed by a name. They range from electronica with some subtle voices, to playful drumming and delicate guitar work, to a middle eastern-tinged piece, and a simply breathtaking piece called “Brushstroke: Walk in the Park”. In its short-lived 1:33, it manages to be one of the most beautiful sections on the album. It’s made up entirely of strings, and a piano. It starts off with a delicate piano melody followed shortly by lovely strings, and as the piece flows on it grows ever so subtly, until the end, where it is comprised of dissonance and intensity, and then fades in a comfortable, ear pleasing chord to end. Each of them are as interesting as that, and I could go on for a long time just speaking about them, but I think you get the idea.

    The first two real tracks on the album are beautiful. “Same Ol’ Road” has an intoxicating bass groove combined with playful drumming, and the piece does nothing but become more dynamic. Slowly building and at the climax the listener gets to hear Hayes’ haunting wails, “We must push on…” The track ends with Hayes’ singing a capella, as the piece seamlessly shifts into “Sanzen”, a very emotionally charged piece with haunting vocals and massive crescendos. Each song throughout is haunting in its own right, but always fresh and never leaving anything redundant. It’s infectious. “Whoa Is Me”, the second to last track, mixes a stale sounding trumpet at the beginning of the piece. It can be heard throughout the song, almost yearning, as if crying for help. Dredg also mixes a blatting saxophone, which is as out of place as it is welcome, showing yet another side to their already entirely diverse album. The piece concludes with a piano and two saxophones interplaying. “The Canyon Behind Her” is, without a doubt, the most jaw-dropping and utterly breathtaking album closer I’ve yet to hear. It starts off with a chilling piano melody, taking the listener to a desolate winter night where the wind is cutting. An overwhelming sense of coolness comes over me, and then the band cuts in, out of nowhere, followed shortly by Hayes’ haunting vocals. There are seriously incredible breakdowns throughout this entire piece, crescendos, decrescendos, beautiful interplay with the band and atmospheric guitar work that gives me chills just thinking about it. The final two minutes are glorious. Hayes vocals haven’t sounded better on the entire album, he soars, while backed by an entire choir. It ends with nothing but the choir. Breathtaking.

    I feel as if I speak anymore about this album I will begin to do it injustice. This is an enthralling piece of work, and there truly isn’t an uninspired moment on the entire album. Essential.

    Posted on February 9, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I’ve owned Leitmotif since 1999 when Dredg did a self release. When I heard that they signed with a major label I became extremely excited, because a new album would have to be created. Dredg is probably my favorite band of all time, though they’re not yet well known, I place them on the same level, talentwise as Radiohead, Pink Floyd,Tool, and any other amazing band you may have heard in your life.I will not, however, compare Dredg to any other band to describe their sound. It’s something that is very difficult to describe in words, I’ve given it much thought and still cannot do the sound justice via any language spoken by man. Perhaps it has to do with the conceptual aspects of the album.The only way to understand their sound is to listen to their music. And if you have the chance to see them live, the beauty of their recording (A large portion of which was done at George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch) does them, well I won’t say “no justice” but to see them live is an incredible experience in itself.Buy this album. Listen to it. That’s all the band members want, is to have their music heard. They frequently tell fans at shows, “Thank you for your ears, Thank you for listening”If you love music, this album is for you.

    Posted on February 9, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • After four years of waiting, Dredg’s follow up to 1998s Leitmotif has finally hit the stores. For those of you unfamiliar with the band, Leitmotif was one of the most artistic pieces of rock released in the past five years, a concept album so imaginative that every pressing of it was sold out until Interscope picked up the band and rereleased it. The hype for El Cielo has been enormous and the pressure of releasing another fantastic release is definitely there, especially amongst the die-hard fan base the band has accumulated.Simply put, El Cielo is music for the seasons and immediately establishes Dredg, once again, as a band to watch. It’s an album almost too good for the underground, laden with colorful guitar playing, tight drumming, driving bass and beautiful vocals. If anything, Dredg has reached a creative level in two releases that some musicians take years to develop: a sound that is uniquely theirs and almost indescribably beautiful. The influences on this record range all over the place: jazz drumming, emotional yet clear singing and the perfect syncopation of bass and guitar that few other bands (Radiohead and U2, as examples) can match. Like Leitmotif, this is another concept album. Instead of going in an entirely new direction, El Cielo feels like the awakening from the sleep/paralysis that the narrator was stuck in during Leitmotif and his encounters with other people. It is the response to Leitmotif, and each song corresponds with its respective journal entry and flows aurally with the words in it. This album is a reaction to the events of Leitmotif, and aurally is a reaction to Leitmotif as well: gone is the screaming, the grind of the guitars, the ambient noise. Songs are their own sonic journies that flow beautifully: guitars take on ambient personalities, bass and drum flow, and the likes. Pretty much every track is a keeper, while the Brushstrokes serve as interludes between each “movement” in the CD. I personally feel that a lot of pompous critics will deny this CD half of what it deserves, simply because it follows a lot of art rock ideas: a concept, a flow of songs, instrumentation… But instead of persecuted from, if any “established” band released an album as adventuresome as this one, it would be hailed with the regard of the more defining rock albums. This album is one of amazement: from the pounding rhythms of “Same Ole Road” to the increadible, spirit-lifting crescendos of “The Canyon Behind Her”, this CD is in my top 10 for the year, and possibly for the next 10 years.

    Posted on February 9, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now