Less than a year removed from Cauterize, TREMONTI return with brand spankin’ new album Dust, out now via Fret12 Records and once again produced by Michael “Elvis” Baskette. Although the songs were recorded at the same time as the previous disc, make no mistake about it, this ain’t some collection of B-sides and leftovers. When I asked singer/guitarist Mark Tremonti in a recent interview if he thought about releasing a double album he immediately balked at the idea. His reasoning was that many of his favorite albums growing up only had eight to ten songs on them, and that by putting them out separately it gives the listener more of a chance to soak everything in.
On that I heartily agree because the minute I hear one of my bands is putting out the dreaded double album I almost always cringe. But anyway, that’s not an issue here. The ten tracks that make up Dust all manage to rock hard where needed while never once compromising on the heavy, the speed, or the melody. Right from the start, the title track immediately jumped up as one of THE best songs Tremonti has written in his career. A million spins later and I still can’t stop playing it several times a day. Opener “My Last Mistake” is a galloping horse with smoke blaring from its nostrils and I knew right away that this was gonna be a great one. When the chorus kicked in that notion was reaffirmed big-time.
Both “The Cage” and “Once Dead” are meaty as all Hell, and they go hard from start to finish. Guitarist Eric “Erock” Friedman, drummer Garrett Whitlock, and bassist Wolfgang Van Halen once again fit Tremonti’s artistic vision like a glove, and the cohesiveness of this unit is something many bands can strive for but only a precious few attain. This is glaringly obvious on my other favorite “Betray Me”. That fucking riff had me salivating like a starving man with a cracker being dangled in front of him and the hook had me bouncing around on my forklift at work like a crazy person. Not to mention the finest solo the disc has to offer is right there.
There’s a dark and sinister feel to “Catching Fire” that is prevalent even as the song gets faster, while closer “Unable to See” shows a softer side of the group that culminates in a mighty anthemic and uplifting chorus. Not coincidentally, this was another immediate standout from go. “Rising Storm” and “Never Wrong” employ that signature Tremonti guitar sound we’ve all come to know and love for the better part of 20 years. And in keeping with that, “Tore My Heart Out” really embraces those tones while adding something different that I can’t quite put my finger on. Vocally Tremonti really lets go here; his performance gets better with each release.
All told Dust is an excellent record with not one bad song anywhere on it. The writing has been taken up another notch and the combo of chunky-style riffs and massive hooks make this an excellent addition to an already stacked resumé. Some have called it their best work to date and I have to agree. TREMONTI is a band that just keeps getting better and better and as long as they keep putting out records like this I’ll be first in line every time.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Unable to See”, “Dust”, “Tore My Heart Out”, “Betray Me”, “My Last Mistake”