Dreadnought only know how to impress and surprise, so it’s no shock to find the band toying with their sound and listeners’ expectations with their fourth release. Emergence, the group’s first for new label Profound Lore, is yet another in the group’s series on Earth’s four classical elements; this one covering fire in a rather unexpected yet lovely way. It’s hard not to compare and contrast Dreadnought’s series with Thrice’s The Alchemy Index, but where the latter embodied fire’s infamous raging and roaring aspects, Emergence more often recalls a reflective fireside evening than a catastrophic conflagration. In truth (and humorously enough), the group’s musical interpretation of fire may be Dreadnought’s most pensive and atmospheric release yet; it’s also their most powerful and haunting.
It’s as if the record’s quieter, reflective moments allow for those times when the band explode to feel even more powerful – see the end of “Pestilent” for example. Lauren Vieira’s piano work is magnificent and often undercuts (in a beautiful way) the record’s heaviest sections. Really, the whole record is about contrast, almost as if the band were trying to encapsulate the idea that fire may be destructive but it can be necessary to restart or create new life, or even to bring people together on a cool summer evening. Fire isn’t always intentionally destructive, and it’s that idea that plays through the record’s undulating sounds. That adjective made sense on the water-centric A Wake in Sacred Waves, but fire’s roiling flames work off this wave-like pattern as well.
I’ve gone this far without mentioning what Emergence sounds like, and that’s because words don’t do this album’s sound justice. It’s folky, elegiac blackened progressive metal, but it’s also so much more. This is not a particularly heavy record in the traditional sense, but there’s a real weight to Emergence that washes over you and refuses to let go. This is powerful, plaintive music for those willing to have the patience. It’s like the extreme metal version of charcoal grilling – waiting for the coals to heat up allows for a fuller flavor. In that sense, Dreadnought have yet again spread their musical wings to create a magical release.