It's ironic that Dredg draws so many comparisons to Sevendust, Mudvayne, and the rest of the hard-hitting new metal crowd, because, as revealed on their new live recording, Live At The Fillmore, [Interscope] they aren't a metal band at all. Powerful and emotive, Dredg actually pull on the heartstrings like nobody's business, and keep the volume up, while also keeping the sound low-key. One of the marks of a truly proficient live band, Dredg make their songs sound fresh off the record, adding dimension without losing musical precision.
The album starts with the rising energy of “The Warbler,” letting singer Gavin Hayes bring the performance in with style, singing low and ominous over the sustained guitars and drum beat. Soon, the intro gives way to new single, “Bug Eyes”, which exemplifies the band's varied, flowing sound. The verses apply guitars in a syncopated off-rhythm way, then open into an intense, epic, distorted tone for the chorus, as Hayes calls out, “Your departure from Earth.... it's haunting you... it's haunting you...” The songs keep to this sort of pattern, but each sounds unique, with its own theme and vague-yet-powerful storyline.
One particular gem is “Sanzen,” from the band's second album, El Cielo. Not only is it loaded with agonized emotion (“Hold on, hold on... We'll be with you soon.”) but it's also a near perfect translation of the studio take to a live setting. The guitars are spot-on, the drums have the same crashing rush, and every note of the vocals is perfect. Indeed, once hearing this fantastic performance, it's hard to believe that the original version of “Sanzen” wasn't recorded live. The same could be said for most of the other tracks on Live At The Fillmore, as well. From the instruments to the well applied and tasteful sound samples, it's clear that Dredg has all the elements of a completely brilliant live act.
Overall, this is a really, really good disc, and more than worth buying. It's clear that Dredg thrives on live performance, and the potent songwriting carries over to a stage better than you could dare hope. There was only one thing that disappointed this reviewer about the show, and that was that he couldn't be there himself.