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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Dreadnaught

American Standard

Review by Gary Hill

So, you think that everything that can be done has been done in progressive rock? Well, prepare to drop that thought. Dreadnaught is here to prove that there is something new going on, and they prove it with style. In a quick phrase the easiest way to describe their music would be "progressive fusion hoe-down music". Yes, you read that right. The group's main influences are prog, jazz and down-home country music. It is a very unusual combination, and takes a little getting used to it, but it really rocks.

Dreadnaught is Richard R. Habib, Justin S. Walton and Robert M. Lord, and this is one of those bands that make it hard to believe three people create that much sound. For info on getting the CD stop by the band's website at http://www.dreadnaughtrock.com.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Ball Buster
A hard-edged droning starts this one off. The track begins building on that format with jazz oriented overtones, and this becomes a frantic, quirky, unpredictable and very fun jam. It shifts gear for a time to a melodic sort of old-fashioned tune with a definite country tinge. This contradiction of sounds is quite intriguing, and the band really rocks out on this track.
Deus Ex Machina
The Jester's Theme
Beginning with percussion, the number quickly becomes a familiar sort of retro jam that feels a bit like a cross between the Grateful Dead, The Animals and Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians. This segment makes for a fun mix. The song suddenly shifts gear becoming a frantic killer country hoedown with both prog and jazz leanings. The vocals enter with no twang, but this is a weird combination of sounds. It really does feel like a high-energy hoedown being performed by a prog band. It even shows of some King Crimson tendencies from time to time.
Deneb
Weird semi-atmospheric textures begin this one. As it carries on a somewhat countryish mode wanders in and the instrumental cut alternates between that and an almost techno sound. It even gets somewhat industrial for a short period, then becomes more countrified. It then turns on its heels and a retro sound overtakes the piece for a while. After that the techno textures return.
Tournament
A pretty straightforward rock and roll texture pervades this one for a while. Then it shifts to frantic fusion for a time. The instrumental number then alternates between the two sounds before shifting into a harder-edged place for a time. Then a killer hard-edged prog groove takes it before it moves back to fusion with a country flavor.
Derby Days
This segment ends the suite in style. A bass groove begins the track, then a bluesy sort of jam ensues. It plays at times with earlier themes. This section does include vocals and runs in a mode that is sort of alternative rock take on prog. More frantic jamming ensues late in the piece then a jazzy section takes over. This becomes a killer jam for a time then gets more chaotic before the vocals return. A triumphant sounding prog segment carries in next, getting a bit Kansasish at times. A false ending leads into an atmospheric ambient segment that gets pretty weird. Then it evolves into chaos and dissonance before jumping into a killer down-home prog jam.
Popeye
This one comes in bluesy and then shifts to fast paced fun prog that feels a bit like Sugarloaf at times. It gets quite frantic and even feels a little like Frank Zappa for a time, then the earlier segment returns.
Bunnaschidt
Starting in a guitar-based mode that feels a little Howeish, this one becomes a pretty solid rocker that is rather catchy. In fact this one is very accessible and fun yet still holds some musical surprises. There is a recurring sedate and somewhat pretty section.
James Thresher Industries: Building Solid Middle Management Since 1976
This is a quirky jam with Crimsonesque leanings. At just under a minute this instrumental is certainly brief and one of the few songs around to include kazoo.
Welding
This starts in a hard-edged prog jam mode and quickly begins building on that format, jamming all around the basic themes. An instrumental, it gets quite lush in its arrangement at times.
Kim Philby
White noise type sounds begin this one then a fairly frantic prog jam ensues, getting rather dissonant and chaotic at times. Although not an instrumental, the vocals are sparse on this one.
The Pumphaus Suite:
Rats and Me
Beginning mellow, the violin brings in the countryish textures as the vocals enter. The overall feeling here is of an alternative rock sort of take on prog stylings such as Spock's Beard. It evolves into a good solid prog jam before dropping down to nearly unaccompanied piano for a time. It stops rather abruptly.
Swing
As this comes out of the silence left behind by the previous cut, it comes in in a hard edged prog jam, and that mode permeates the piece. This is definitely a fun piece, and it feels a bit like King Crimson at time. It also features a hoedown type break that gets pretty heavy at times. Chaos ensues to end the song.
Clownhead
Noise starts this one, then a bluesy metallic segment takes over and the song rocks forward. It is another alternative rock take on prog and features a tasty guitar solo in its instrumental break. A playful old record sound takes the number for a time. Then another good rocking jam comes out of that. It is another that feels a bit like Kansas. This ends with scratched record type sounds.
 
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