Dust Bolt – Sound & Fury Review

For centuries, thrash metal outfits have attempted to surprise their fanbase by taking a completely unexpected direction. Sometimes, it’s with great success. Other times, not so much. Metallica and their notorious “black album” alienated many hardcore fans, but no one can argue that Metallica single-handedly brought money and fame to the band. On the other hand, Testament’s attempt at producing radio-friendly songs through Ritual did little to skyrocket sales or bring new fans to the fold. While there are others we can evaluate (in thrash and elsewhere), this introduction aims to set the tone for Dust Bolt’s new record, Sound & Fury. As we’ve discussed countless times, the dreaded pandemic affected many bands. In Dust Bolt’s case, the band decided to take that time away from record labels, concerts, and the noise of the business to rediscover themselves. The result is a reinvigoration, bringing back the excitement the band had when they first broke out on the scene. Brace yourselves.

Founded by childhood friends Lenny, Flo, and Nico, the pandemic found Dust Bolt completely independent of a label and in full control of their schedules and musical direction. During these last few years, they re-evaluated everything the band stood for in hopes of toppling their four previous albums and developing a new era. But this new era was led by the desire to develop one unique skill that the band never possessed: someone who could sing. That’s not an insult but an actual desire by vocalist/guitarist Lenny B. The outcome is something that reminds me of the move that The Haunted made with The Dead Eye. Sound & Fury is constructed with cleaner vocals, influences far removed from the thrash genre, and catchier choruses. That said, there are still crushing moments in many of the songs, and, for a guy who really didn’t know how to sing, it’s a rather solid performance.

“Leave Nothing Behind” is completely outside the realm of what thrash enthusiasts would expect. The opener shows a more accessible side to the band’s songwriting, focusing on a melodic, radio-friendly chorus. But, just when you think that’s all it is, the final riff of the album breaks down into a killer, Throwdown-esque outro. “I Witness” follows the opener in a similar fashion. But the modernization is even greater as the song focuses on a modern-day Metallica sound. It also contains one of the most addictive choruses on the record (outside of “I Am the One”) and builds up to a headbangable finish, sparked by sporadic screaming that reminds me of Slipknot’s Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses). While the thrash remains, especially in the Anthraxy “New Flame” and its Pantera-esque solo work, Dust Bolt is (so far) completely unrecognizable.

But the weirdness only intensifies as the album continues. “I Am the One,” for example, hosts a slew of Foo Fighters vibes and a repetitive chorus that sounds like the vocalist is saying, “I gam du one” For what it is, it’s a very addictive song. But I can almost feel you thrash enthusiasts shot-gunning a beer. For those who can’t stomach where I’m going with this review, it gets worse. The bass intro in “Love & Reality” sounds so much like Red Hot Chili Peppers that you’ll abandon your beer in favor of tequila shots. But that’s only the beginning of this happy-go-lucky song. Next, comes the distracting low vocals and backing oomphs and aaahs in the chorus that completely separates it from the rest of the tracks. But the song that had me checking my phone to confirm I was still listening to the same album was “Little Stone.” With its gentle vocals and instrumentation, the closer sounds like a local lounge act forcing me to drink myself to death with sorrow. Plus, I think Amy Winehouse is sitting at the table with me, which is weird.

All things considered, I’ve been having a blast with this album. It definitely won’t be for everyone, but I can feel the spontaneity and energy in the songs. They actually sound like they are having fun recording this album. Which, in my opinion, is far more exciting of a listening experience than 2019’s Trapped in Chaos. Though I can live without the hopelessly pointless instrumental, “Bluedeep,” the rest of the tracks are a great time. The vocal performance is solid, the choruses are addictive as hell, and the energy suggests a band that doesn’t give a shit what you think because they are having too much fun playing. Hell, you can even see it in their not-so-thrash album cover and band photo. Not to mention, we all know I am a fan of bands that have the balls to completely reinvent themselves and give zero fucks about it. When Sound & Fury goes hard, it goes hard. When it’s soft and ballady, it works. Both cases are specifically true in the title track. Sounds & Fury will exist as the band’s greatest achievement or their worst. Only time will tell.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: AFM Records
Websites: dustbolt.bandcamp.com1 | dustbolt.com | facebook.com/dustbolt
Releases Worldwide: February 23rd, 2024

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