Album Review by Sheldon Hubbard
Though their name may not derive from the British battleship that dominated Navies for 35 years in the early 1900s, their sound is just as revolutionary and fiercely armed. A multitude of vibrancies are woven together to bring a frightfully pleasing mosaic to your ears. The instrumentation bases itself in the glorifying gloom of doom metal with a progressive niche. Elements from folk, chamber, and avant garde are carefully crafted into this explosive EP that is DREADNOUGHT’s Emergence. The purifying authenticity presented in the nature of this album beckons you toward a journey that is as refreshing as it is destructive.
Coming into this album I knew nothing of the band DREADNOUGHT, mostly due to my lack of exposure to what’s swirling around the Denver metal scene. Having noticed that they’ve been a band since at least 2013, I went into listening to Emergence with the anticipation of a spectacle. I did not realize (until after a couple cycles through the album) just how vast that spectacle was. Their discography is packed with albums short in tracks but mighty in content. Emergence takes on the role of displaying the element Fire, but its predecessor (A Wake In Sacred Waves) includes dynamic representations of: Water, Ether, and Earth, respectively. Making it the presumed conclusion of the quartet of mystical voyages. Each record seems fueled by the ability to switch effortlessly between a folk-driven jam band and a heavy screeching display of a black and doom metal hybrid.
Aesthetically, certain tracks like “Still” and “The Waking Realm,” stood out to me. “Still” has a certain resonance that carries you lightly across the immense casam created by the first track, “Besieged”. The lyrics push the theme of the desolation of flame forward into expressing testimony to its nature. In the next song “Still”, the vocals sing out “Who am I to play witness? / To an otherwise hidden passing / Left to the wind," and set a shift into the fascinating idea that the thing that gives fire its life, is air (the wind) and yet the flame is all powerful except to the one thing that can also destroy it. I don’t know how intentional that artistic placement was, but it is a line that easily stayed stuck in my head.
Jumping forward to the end of this barrage of beautiful brutality, we are left in… “The Waking Realm”. This track echoes with a rippling concept of what is left in the wake of destruction, rebirth. When I finished with the record and started exploring the messages of all the songs that came before, the theme(s) made sense. With Emergence, DREADNOUGHT comes full circle. Four albums of absolute oomph brought them back to what gave life to their music. And while this visitation of the elements is over, their music moves forward with the same spirit it seems to have had since their first album, Lifewoven. None of the tracks on Emergence necessarily sag or sway away from one another, but each one certainly reflects instrumental takeaways from what the band must have learned from the albums before.
Emergence doesn’t just draw you in, it snatches you like a sweeping tornado that is made of fire. DREADNOUGHT will not only lead you through the whirlwind of wilderness that their sound embodies, but they will send you down rabbit holes you may have otherwise never fancied going down.The obscure experimentation of sound alone that seems to be the norm floating around the clouds of the Mile High. I have the fullest intention to slink back into navigating DREADNOUGHT’s library, in addition to the artists in Denver. This band and the scene it is surrounded with will only continue to thrive and connect with each other; all having the same keys to a towering arsenal of sounds, graciously shared amongst all of them.