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 amidst 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, most notably, Slayer. Two years hence, came Awake the Riot, a worthy successor of 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 at your face with “Sick X Brain”. It is a never before seen crossover-thrash juggernaut that pounces on you with a frenetic thrashy riffage combined with angsty gang 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. It also leaves you slightly dumbstruck about how the rest of the album will unfold. However, what follows is classic Dust Bolt goodness with the album title track. “Mass Confusion”’s opening riff sounds a bit too similar to Slayer’s “World Painted Blood” but overall it has enough Dust Bolt elements to it that you will forgive them for employing such a generic, albeit groovy intro. Another aspect that you will notice on this track is Lenny Breuss’ vocal style. He employs a more punk-ish sounding vocals losing some of the edginess that we saw in their older records and using a slightly cleaner style of 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 in their compositions like the acoustic opening of “Allergy” or the acapella-ish intro of “Mind The Gap”, but 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 that is playing or not. I am not sure what prompted the band to insert this modern rock ballad in between 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 normalcy after “Exit” as the band returns back to their older avatar and deliver some kickass Thrash Metal. However, the Slayer influence is a bit too much on this album. Several times on this album, I played the “Name that Slayer riff” game in my head. 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 through its course but it is hard not keep out those comparisons or references from your head.
True to the album’s name Mass Confusion does leave the listener confused about the record. One can’t complain that the band didn’t try to experiment or provide something new because some of the stuff they offer 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. Then there is a new Hardcore punk direction the band showed us they are inclined 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!