If I was asked to name three things that I love about Dust Bolt’s music, my answer would be the classic Bay Area Thrash vibe, the Slayer-influenced guitar riffs, and the undeniable chemistry of a strapping young high school band. Formed in 2006, the thrashers from Germany released their debut album ‘Violent Demolition’ in 2012 to a favorable response. They mesmerized their audience with a crisp thrash metal sound and loads of nostalgia, thanks to the unmistakable influence of the classic Bay Area Thrash Metal bands such as the aforementioned Slayer. Two years hence, came ‘Awake the Riot’, a worthy successor to their debut that continued the thrashy riffs with the same fury and utmost precision. Come 8th of July, Dust Bolt will be back with their third full-length album titled ‘Mass Confusion’ via Napalm Records.
A third album in a band’s discography usually starts bearing the weight of expectations of the fans. And for the band, there is a conundrum to resolve; whether to experiment, or to amplify their previous efforts. On ‘Mass Confusion’, Dust Bolt tries a bit of both.
Right from the get-go, the band throws a curveball with “Sick X Brain”. It is a crossover-thrash juggernaut that pounces on you with frenetic thrashy riffage combined with angsty gang-style vocals that will truly surprise you. Lasting a little over a minute, the opener (after its initial assault) quickly concludes with a groovy mid-tempo riff that warms you up for the rest of the album, and leaves you slightly dumbstruck about how the rest of it will unfold. However, what follows is classic Dust Bolt goodness with the album title track “Mass Confusion”. The song’s opening riff sounds a bit too similar to Slayer’s “World Painted Blood”, but overall has enough Dust Bolt to it that you will forgive them for employing such a generic, albeit groovy intro. Another noticeable aspect of this track is Lenny Breuss’ vocal style: he employs more punk-like vocals, losing some of the edginess that we saw in their older records in place of slightly cleaner vocals, which also makes the compositions tilt a lot more towards Crossover Thrash/Hardcore than pure Thrash Metal.
Although the band continues to throw in new elements, like the acoustic opening of “Allergy” or the a capella-like intro of “Mind The Gap”, they retain their original style soon after these initial moments. The seventh track “Exit”, however, will force you to double check your playlist once again to make sure it is indeed Dust Bolt. I am not sure what prompted the band to insert this modern rock ballad into the mix, but surprisingly, it works! I found this track to be an emotional ride with some powerful moments, thanks to Breuss’ killer vocal talent, a crunchy rhythm section, and a super melodic solo.
Things return to normal after “Exit” as the band returns to their older avatar and deliver some kickass Thrash Metal. However, the Slayer influence is a bit too obvious on this album; I actually played the “name that Slayer riff” game in my head while hearing several of these songs. Having said that, I am not saying I did not enjoy it. Tracks like “Taking Your Last Breath” and “Portraits of Decay” made me raise those horns up several times, but it is hard to not keep those comparisons or references out of your head.
Bottom Line: True to the album’s name, ‘Mass Confusion’ does leave the listener a bit confused about its own nature. One can’t complain that the band didn’t try to experiment or provide something new, because some of the stuff they offer here is entirely different from what we have seen them do. On the other hand, they also put in a lot of generic Thrash Metal elements that have been done countless times before; only to introduce a new Hardcore punk direction the band has decided to take. So overall, it is quite an unbalanced record.
But at the end of the day, does it all sound good? The answer to that is a resounding “Hell yeah!”