Here is the new album from dub/reggae purveyors Dreadzone, with twelve tracks recorded at the Bunker Studios of Mick Jones with the lyrical involvement of Don Letts. Their 23-year history is reflected in the diverse wealth of the songs included here. This is the band’s 8th studio album and 3rd on their own Dubwiser label, going back to the roots, dub and reggae sound that initially inspired them. Alongside core members Greg Dread, who produced the album, together with Leo Williams, Chris Compton, reggae vocalist Earl 16 and MC Spee, ‘Dread Times’ introduces younger members with newest contributor Bazil bringing an edge to the music and Greg’s son Marlon expanding the musical range further, with Lena Cullen on vocals for one track and 1990s’ ragga duo Louchie Lou and Michie One guesting on another.
The album kicks off with ‘Rootsman’, with its powerful bass sound driving the sound along and an African feel to the percussive sound, before we get to ‘Mountain’, a slow and brooding track about personal redemption which, despite its tone, is optimistic in its message and is the album’s current single release.
Initially giving the impression that the band are steeped in the received tradition of dub/reggae, which on one level is true enough, as the album develops the sound becomes wider in its scope and influences. ‘Black Deus’ for instance employs a range of beats, a largely instrumental track apart from the soul refrain, essentially political in tone. ‘Area Code’ moves along forcefully and the album finishes strongly with ‘After the Storm’, beginning with electronic sounds and with multicultural influences that make it highly interesting musically.
An excellent album, worthy of wide attention, and through its various styles driven by the always-assertive bass sound. Dreadzone are touring the UK until the end of April so there’s still the chance to catch them live while all this is still fresh.
Dreadzone: ‘Dread Times’ released February 2017 on Dubwiser