Mark Tremonti is the man who co-founded one of the biggest bands of the late ‘90s and early 2000s. A man who was subjected to years of mockery and critical ridicule for his efforts with this band, which was at the forefront of the post-grunge movement, only to bounce back with another band having the same line-up sans the vocalist and subsequently turning into a darling for critics far and wide. With guitar virtuoso’s such as Michael Angelo Batio and Leslie West validating the man’s musical genius by asking him to appear on their albums, Mark Tremonti has risen up to put himself in the same league as these gentlemen and is revered as one of the trailblazers of guitaring of the 21st century.
Mark Tremonti will be releasing his 3rd solo album ‘Dust’ on the 29th of April via FRET12 records, with Eric Friedman (rhythm guitars, backing vocals), Garrett Whitlock (drums) and Wolfgang Van Halen (bass guitar, backing vocals) forming the rest of his band. The album starts with “My Last Mistake”, which has a very progressive metal-meets-New Wave of American Heavy Metal opening. The chorus is extremely catchy and has got the signature melodic hooks which Tremonti revolutionized. ”My Last Mistake” is followed by “The Cage”, which again has a lot of progressive influences that support a melodic chorus. The song changes texture into a doom-influenced passage which then leads to the solo.
”Once Dead” has an opening with a lot of thrash overtones, also present in the mid-section of “Catching Fire” that has, unless my ear fails me, a tinge of Iron Maiden in it. “Dust” is my favourite track of the album with Tremonti using very unique chord progressions in this song. The song has a lot of soul in it, and judging from the lyrics, is a song about the loss of a loved one. “Unable To See” is another song that is extremely appealing, with its beautiful melodies and chirpy nature, and has an enchanting pre-chorus. Whitlock uses a classic double bass shred pattern towards the end of “Tore My Heart”, which he uses very less of in this album in comparison to his previous work with Tremonti. There is also a lot of grunge in this album in tracks like “Never Wrong” and “Rising Storm”.
In my opinion, Tremonti has taken a conscious effort to change his sound in this album, and along with his usual brand of grunge, incorporates riffs that have a lot of progressive metal in it, as opposed to the thrash found in his first two records. Even though ‘Dust’ was recorded side by side with ‘Cauterize’, and Tremonti insisted that the songs on the album are not discards of ‘Cauterize’ and that certain tunes were written almost 10 years ago, this album does not carry the same fire that his previous two albums had. The only two tracks from the album that stood out for me were “Dust” and “Unable To See”. Songs like “My Last Mistake” and “Once Dead” are quite inferior (for the lack of a better word) to the likes of “Cauterize”, “Tie The Noose” and “You Waste My Time” and there were times when I felt that there were a couple of sections where Mark Tremonti just re-adjusted a lot of old Alter Bridge licks to come up with new ones.
Nevertheless, Mark Tremonti is undoubtedly one of the finest axe-welders to have ever played on stage in recent times and he does not need to prove his mettle to anyone. There are certain excerpts from the album, such as the mid-section of “Catching Fire”, which have the potential to raise pulses, but otherwise this album is a tad lackluster in comparison to his previous work as a solo artist or with Alter Bridge. Let’s see what this genius has in store for his next effort.