Oversaturation is rarely a good thing. The same could be said about the long wait between albums. In a world of short attention spans, and even shorter memories, bands are swept under the rug quicker than cat hair and Cheetos. It’s been four years now since California prog-rockers dredg last released anything, but nevertheless, they’re back and with their fourth studio release, the overly ambitious, The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion. This massive 18-track effort is stacked with just about everything, from vocalist Gavin Hayes’s ever soaring vocals to the bands’ constantly changing musical styling. The album, however, feels like any other album that take years to put out: over-done and over-produced.
Inspired by a Salmon Rushdie poem, “A Letter to the Six Billionth Citizen” (the band wrote the songs for the seven billionth citizen, said to be born around June), the hour long effort features many of what would normally be considered instrumental tracks. These tracks are anything but filler, and some of which are the stronger listens to be found here. Opening up is “Pariah” which starts off as a quiet introduction to the album, with a group of children chanting before guitarist Mark Engles kicks in with a heavy riff that quickly overshadows all else. Catch Without Arms fans will be immediately pleased by the track as it easily matches up with nearly anything from their previous effort.
The first instrumental track comes in next with “Drunk Slide”. The keyboard heavy effort has perhaps one of the catchiest beats here. Though dark and dance-y, the track sounds like it could have been a fully worked out song, and instead was left behind. “Ireland” comes up next and sounds like a single, but in a bad way. In no way, shape or form should this band ever feel generic. To the band’s credit, they do weave some original and intriguing hallmarks throughout, such as the little vignettes of music labeled as, “Stamp of Origin”‘s. Though hardly fully fledged out songs, these minor tracks are more or less audio postcards from distant places. Again, it’s just clever.
“Light Switch” chimes in with some odd blues and southern rock, immediately proving that the band should keep things out west, as the sound doesn’t necessarily fit. Nevertheless, it makes for an interesting listen, especially when the orchestra kicks in, turning things in a very different direction. “Gathering Pebbles” chills things down…a lot. Keeping things in left field territory, the band fiddles about with the piano and churns out what could be mistaken as elevator music. Either that or the daily soundtrack for The Weather Channel. That may sound very strange, but the quick moving piano parts, constantly changing guitar styles, and Hayes singing style keep you listening, waiting for the next shift or heavy guitar riff.
The heavy rocking part of the album kicks in with “Savior”, which starts deafeningly loud before switching to a much more alternative sounding track that could easily be a single, though it was already released as a b-side to first single, “I Don’t Know”. The pounding track eventually leads into the quieter sounds of “R U O K” which sounds like it was produced by a devilish Speak n’ Spell. Drummer Dino Campanella and guitarist Engles are left to their devices here and leave the track very relaxed. Aforementioned single “I Don’t Know” finds the band in a confused state with Hayes singing, “There’s no guarantee of a God or longevity/admit you don’t know anything, and give it up.” It’s all very radio friendly, and frankly, overproduced.
No better example of this comes then with instrumental track, “Long Days and Vague Clues”. While an awesome listen and epic in nature, thanks mostly to a booming orchestra, one starts to wonder if they’re listening to dredg or Finnish metal band Apocalyptica. The songs just keep going and going. The same could be said for “Quotes”, another example of a track fairly drawn out. For the first four or five minutes, the track entertains, but it soon wears thin and lingers on some.
It’s a shame most of the songs couldn’t take notes from closing instrumental, “Down in the Cellar”, or even the album’s last “postcard,” “Stamp of Origin: Horizon”. These tracks are well placed, and because of that they efficiently close out a rocky album. So, what should fans take away from this, this four years in the making effort? For the most part, The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion is a decent listen, it’s just quite the chore to get through. Some fans will eat up the dramatic change ups, while others will probably care less and move on. The latter being the most likely.