Mike McLatchey 19-July-2002 Dreadnaught - The American Standard
(Red Fez Records FEZ-005, 2001, CD)

I have to admit that it is extraordinarily rare to receive an unsolicited promo that is actually any good, so when one stands out in a big way it is quite the pleasure. When it stands out not only because it is good, but because it also has something to say that if not inherently original is at least a unique take on its ancestry then it makes my job a lot easier.

Enter trio Dreadnaught whose style is self-described as "progabilly," a music somewhere in between progressive rock and traditional americana. On what seems to be their third album, the balance is clearly tipped to the former while being informed enough by the latter to bring out a fresh take on the genre. What is immediately noticeable from the aptly titled opener, "Ballbuster," is the level of energy here, these guys are not at all afraid to whip it out. The closest comparison would be to defunct quartet Boud Deun due to the high level of interplay and musicianship here.

The long 20-minute suite "Deus ex Machina" disaplys the kaleidoscopic sound in full, the addition of various guests bolstering the guitar, bass and drums trio for a very full sound. The invention is rampant and giddy with long complex instrumental sections full of zany breaks and almost Zappa-like tangents all sewn together with vocal sections displaying that twist on americana, a catchy and brilliant way to ground the consistently dazzling music.

In fact, if there is anything critical at all to say about this fine release, it might be its length, but this is as likely to be my own inability to absorb so many ideas, even after several sittings, as the length itself. Dreadnaught have more ideas in a minute than most new prog bands have on one album, certainly more than a few hundred words could cover. Certainly, Dreadnaught have gained a place next to some of the finer purveyors of progressive American music such as Djam Karet or Boud Deun.

Mike Prete    19-July-2002 Dreadnaught - The American Standard
(Red Fez Records FEZ-005, 2001, CD)

Following the true spirit of progressive music, Dreadnaught have brought together a wide array of influences which come to the fore on The American Standard to create a unique varied experience. Hailed as such things from "Zappa meets Yes at Willie Nelson's BBQ" to "King Crimson at a hoedown", it is clear that this is a band with an interesting slant on progressive rock (and if I'm allowed my own witty description, Symphonic Bluegrass). Most prog bands tend to draw influence from western art music, but Dreadnaught explores a unique synthesis of traditional American music and rock. Intricate and complex playing intertwined with a bluegrass twang and punchy rhythms. While the band predominately rocks out with concise instrumentals, there are also a fair number of vocal pieces, recalling early Phish, or Hands when the violin is present. Touches of the Dixie Dregs and Kansas also come through with the violin-filled tracks.

Walton tends to steal the show with his versatile guitar playing, which can bring out the twang of Steve Howe, the angular crunches of Robert Fripp, or a subtle acoustic or jazz feel. Lord's fuzzy bass provides a dark underpinning, while Habib's drumming has just the right amount of energy to propel the songs along with out getting too flashy. The additional color of backing instruments including piano, organ, synth, violin, and sax brings an added depth to the trio, and helps even out the dynamics of the aggressive playing. The twenty minute suite "Deus Ex Machina" brings all the different elements together into a cohesive whole, showcasing what the band is about. For those adventurous listeners looking for a twist on the prog formula, Dreadnaught delivers.

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