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El Cielo

4.7 out of 5 stars 187 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 8, 2002
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 8, 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Interscope
  • ASIN: B00006IU65
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (187 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,507 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Alec Rojas VINE VOICE on October 9, 2002
Format: Audio CD
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.
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Format: Audio CD
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.
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Format: Audio CD
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.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Well, El Cielo seems to be the most enthusiastically acclaimed of Dredg's three albums, and in this case at least I have to grant the hype is well-deserved. I do think some of the Pink Floyd comparisons are overstating the case a bit, as they seem to be more of a reflection on the sad state of contemporary mainstream music than anything else, but that's not to say parallels don't exist. Dredg are one of the only rock bands out there now (along with Porcupine Tree, the Mars Volta, and a few others) actively experimenting within the boundaries of the genre, and for that they definitely deserve some gratitude. While plenty of radio bands try to mix quiet, contemplative sounds with heaviness and aggression, they're frequently doomed by a songwriting approach that's as predictable and formulaic as a soap opera (this means you, Staind and Nickelback). That's no problem here, though,as Dredg always manage to make their mix of the melodic and the metallic subtle and surprising, with a wall-of-sound approach anchored once again by ample doses of non-rock instrumentation and Dino's jazzy, slightly off-kilter drumwork.

Overall, the songwriting on El Cielo is much more song-oriented than on Leitmotif, but even though pretty much everything here stands out on its own, the album still sustains its transcendent, enveloping mood throughout; it's no surprise whatsoever that this was conceived as a concept album. And once again, Dredg greatly impress with their extreme versatility and the level of nuance that goes into every track. These guys clearly know their way around a memorable chorus, but in yet another sharp contrast to the endless parade of radio dreck out there their songs are never just a catchy refrain padded out with three minutes of filler.
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