Tremonti Dust Album Review
Tremonti “Dust” Album Review
By ~MaggieUk @FullMetalRock
“Dust”, the adrenaline infused companion to the 2015 “Cauterize” album by Tremonti, is due for release this Friday, April 29, 2016. Hold on to your ears because this is going to blow them clean off your head! Fans who were lucky enough to hear both albums played in their entirety back in January 2015 have been chomping at the bit ever since to hear these songs again.
In an unusual and extraordinary move, frontman Mark Tremonti went through his entire catalog of material in one massive purge. For a musician who has been writing at least since the early nineties, there must have been an incredible amount of partial songs, lyrics and riffs accumulated that had never been used. Rather than produce one extended album, he made the clever decision to record two 10-track albums simultaneously, and release them a year apart from each other. Having more pre-production time than was available during the “All I Was” sessions allowed Mark, guitarist Eric Friedman, bassist Wolfgang Van Halen and drummer Garrett Whitlock the ability to deconstruct and reconstruct the material into two definitively Tremonti, yet distinctly individual bodies of work.
Both albums were produced by Michael “Elvis” Baskette, who excels at obtaining the best out of artists, including Alter Bridge, Slash, Chevelle and Trivium. What he has been able to achieve with now his second and third solo album by Tremonti is nothing short of genius. The production and post production work brings a more polished sound than the first album yet retains the intensity and metal edge that this band has had from the start. “Cauterize” was greeted with an enormous amount of positivity by critics and fans alike, and was my pick for album of the year. Listening to “Dust” for the first time as a finished album, I’m expecting Tremonti to hold that #1 spot.
"My Last Mistake" starts with the sound of a little guitar feedback and a couple plucked notes, as if you’re stepping into the studio itself during a warm up and then, wham! Tremonti commences the 2 of the 1-2 punch these two albums deliver. The speed metal, heavy thrash sound we love from this quartet introduces us to the melodic vocals that make their sound so distinct. Head-banging heaviness and strong melodies with rich vocal harmonies are their signatures, and by the time the chorus ends I stop to wonder…. with the vocals Mark can deliver, how different things might have been had he believed in himself as a frontman back in his college years. That’s a topic for another time and place I think!
This opening track has a different sound to it than his previous works, but does not veer off so far that it in indistinguishable as Tremonti. It has something of a middle-eastern hint, perhaps due to the Phrygian dominant scale used in the guitar parts. This song is about “not being strong enough to break the severable ties of an all-consuming bad influence, whether it be a person, addiction or bad habits in general” and for me, it makes a real statement. It lets the listener know from the outset that this is not a collection of B-sides, or leftovers that didn’t make the cut. It defines Mark as a musician, and the band, in the sense that nothing they are going to give us is going to be anything less than an explosion of talent.
Garrett’s skills with poly-rhythms is absolutely mind blowing. And as if to further emphasize just how much this song has going on, the first half of verse four is delivered in a stripped back mode, bringing the full scale musical onslaught back in the fifth measure. The contrast makes a big impression, for which we’re graciously given a chorus and a bridge before they hit the sweet spot…. the guitar solo. Absolutely my favorite solo of the album, and possibly of all three Tremonti records. This song has me on the edge of my seat, and they're just getting started!!
I love the decision to start The Cage with a drum intro before the guitars/bass come in. Written about “a foolish person who was too stubborn to listen to the good advice of others and now walks the earth a broken man”, it jackhammers the lyrics of the verses, which are in one time signature, by having the instruments in a faster, staccato style; making it an absolute BEAST of a song! After the second chorus, the tempo slows (they must've been feeling the burn!). The bridge vocals, recorded in mono, an effect that works well for Mark, allow a brief respite. Then, a face-melting high speed guitar solo breaks out and is now vying for my favorite guitar solo spot. This song is INSANE at every level! Wolfgang’s bass line matches the speed and intricacy of the drums beat for beat and surely would require superhuman strength to play live. Due initially to Van Halen touring commitments and now due to Wolfgang working on his solo project, Tanner Keegan has been standing in as touring bassist since after ShipRocked 2015. Tanner has filled the role impeccably and there is no doubt of his ability to deliver not only the bass lines but also the vocal harmonies on the road.
For those loving the speed metal elements of Tremonti’s songs, and an opportunity to get the old mosh pit thrashing, Once Dead cranks it out in the shortest track of the album. At just over three minutes, it is more than sufficient time to get those sweat glands pumping. Garrett at his best throughout the song, we get not one but TWO guitar solos, with an underlying bass line that is incredible. Short but killer!
The title track happens to be Mark’s favorite song off both albums and describes “how it feels to watch a close friend lose confidence in you”. This is the first chance to catch your breath; a slow, somber ballad that builds in intensity but stays in the melodic rock zone. Always able to deliver a lyric that comes from deep in his gut, yet written with enough ambiguity that fans can apply their own interpretations and personal meanings, Dust is no exception. It would appear that while purging his catalogue, some demons were exorcized as well. The intro and the first two verses are played on a sole guitar, with Mark delivering the only vocals, giving it a very personal almost haunting vibe. Only after the end of the second verse does the rest of the band join in. This is the longest track of the album, and possibly the most mesmerizing. The way the song builds in intensity, before slowing back to just the sole guitar, it then diminishes until it fades completely.
Half-way through the album and there is every reason to believe this album is as good as “Cauterize”, if not better. Betray Me is bound to be a pleaser for the Alter Bridge fans among us; one of several songs on the two albums that have “that” sound to them, this being one of the heavier ones. Yet it can be instantly identified as being Tremonti, having the speed metal elements. Singing in his lower register for the first verse, only going into his upper register for impact halfway through the second verse, Mark is certainly stretching his range. The drums in this track are some of my favorite in the album, particularly during the guitar solo. Eric has known, and played with, Mark for more years than they’d probably want me to mention. That has resulted in a symbiotic musicality that is very rare. With Eric’s freer playing style and Mark’s dedication to perfection, our ears are treated to some of the best guitar riffs, shreds and wails of this generation.
Tore My Heart Out, with its low tune guitar sound, has more interesting aspects than I could cover in this review. The instrumental bridge between the second verse and the chorus, a low and dirty guitar riff, and oh my sweet metal lord an outro that starts with double time and then quadruple time that has me pulling trademark Tremonti facial expressions subconsciously! This was one of several “did I just hear what I think I heard” moments throughout “Dust”.
Catching Fire, with a thunderous bass in verse two, has to get a mention purely for the guitar work which is at levels where I start to run out of adjectives. After the second chorus, exactly at the half-way point of the track, actual magic takes place! Starting with the bass and lead guitar matching each other note for note, an octave above each other, with the drums keeping rhythm, breaking into a speed metal rhythm before all three guitars synchronize again an octave above each other, and a chorus breaks the hypnosis. I’m left wondering what the hell did I just hear! And as if Mark himself knew we’d be stunned, there’s a brief reminder before the song ends. We’re left with just the humming from the guitars; as if the guys just finished their set and walked off stage. I must have listened to this song more than any of the others, straining to work out the intricacies, before admitting defeat. Still, I would love to see the music sheets on this!
Tremonti’s lyrics have always had an edge to them, and you couldn't find a better example than Never Wrong.The lyrics and sound of “Dust” have a somewhat darker feel overall. Again, this band prove they can make you feel their music to your very core. I absolutely loved the drum cadence just before another guitar solo. Now I have several fighting for that my number one spot. The maturity in Mark’s voice since “All I Was” could be best exemplified with his vocals on this track. I believe he is only just tapping the surface of what he is capable of vocally, and that the best is yet to come.
If there were two songs on this album that could double as Alter Bridge songs, they would be Rising Storm and Unable to See. To a Tremonti fan, that might not seem necessary, but I see the logic in it and relish it. Unable to See is one of my favorite songs from not only “Dust” but “Cauterize” as well. It is an anthemic, arena filling song. Beginning with Mark singing the lower register, the tone of which had me admiring his voice while he was only doing backing vocals, it has me from the first line of the first verse. He doesn't go into the upper register until the third verse and there is a real power behind it when he does.The harmonies on this are some of the best of both albums. Get those lighters ready (yeah I know now it's phone lights, but I’m old school!)
As much as I love “All I was”, and was blown away by “Cauterize”, “Dust” has expanded everything I believed Tremonti to be capable of, exponentially. The bond that has developed both personally and professionally between the band members as individuals and as a unit has resulted in what I believe to be an endless source of outstanding music. Tremonti embodies the characteristics of knowing the basics but having a willingness to push the boundaries of what one is capable of. Again, I find myself telling you to add a Tremonti cd to your music catalogue. “Dust” is my album of 2016 so far, and I can’t see anything altering that! If you are lucky enough to be in Europe this summer, do not miss their tour (dates below).
5 of 5 Stars
Mark Tremonti – lead vocals, lead guitar
Eric Friedman – guitar, backing vocals
Wolfgang Van Halen – bass, backing vocals
Garrett Whitlock – drums
(Touring bassist is Tanner Keegan)
“Dust” track list:
My Last Mistake 4:30
The Cage 3:43
Once Dead 3:06
Betray Me 4:05
Tore My Heart Out 5:08
Catching Fire 4:41
Never Wrong 4:42
Rising Storm 3:18
Unable to See 4:57
“Dust” is available for pre-order through:
Fret 12 fret12.com/store/tremonti-dust
Amazon (U.S.) www.amazon.com
FYE (U.S. and Canada)www.fye.com
Best Buy (U.S.)bestbuy.com
and digitally through iTunes, Google Play and Amazon
“Dust” will be available through most major retailers on 29 April 2016
Tremonti 2016 European summer tour dates:
27 May Dortmund, GER Westfalenhalle Arena
28 May Prague, CZE MeetFactory
29 May Munich, GER Rockavaria
31 May Aschaffenburg, GER Colos Saal
01 June Freilburg, GER Jazzhaus
03 June Lucern, SWI Sonisphere Festival
04 June Nijmegen, HOL Fortarock
05 June Vienna, AUT Rock in Vienna
07 June Saarbruecken, GER Garage
08 June Berlin, GER Columbia Theater
10 June Paris, FRA Download Paris
12 June Donnington, UK Download UK
13 June Glasgow, SCO O2 ABC*
14 June Belfast, IRE Limelight
16 June Heerlen, HOL Theater Heerlen
17 June Clisson, FRA Hellfest
19 June Dessel, BEL Graspop
21 June Stockholm, SWE Debasser
22 June Solo, NOR Parkteateret
24 June Copenhagen, DEN Copenhell
*recent venue change
Tickets on sale now through Fret 12 fret12.com
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