Dust review by Tremonti

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  • Released: Apr 29, 2016
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.2 (46 votes)
Tremonti: Dust
4

Sound — 9
Admittedly, I'm a bit of a recent convert to Tremonti. Having been a big fan of his work in Alter Bridge and spending a fair chunk of my high school years spinning "My Own Prison" and "Human Clay," I've always admired Mark Tremonti as a guitarist and a musician in general, but it wasn't until recently that I realized the ride I was about to take when I first listened to "All I Was" and "Cauterize."

Definitely a lot more thrash-flavoured than his work with Alter Bridge and Creed, his first two records with his self-named band showed a very pronounced influence from bands like Metallica. While their styles are not anywhere close to the same, Tremonti's music differs from Creed's and even Alter Bridge's by focusing on guitar solos, and "Dust" is no different from his first two records with this band in that respect. Every song on this record has a ripping lead section, and there are more than enough notes on this record to satiate the kind of guitarists who voted his solo in Alter Bridge's "Blackbird" #1 in a recent UG guitar solo poll.

It should be known that Mark wrote this album mostly around the same time that he wrote the tunes from "Cauterize," and the sound of the record reflects that, with a pretty similar spread of heavy tunes (as well as a couple of well-placed ballads). Fans of Mark's work who may not have been familiar with his work beyond Creed and Alter Bridge might find the opening salvo of thrash metal from "My Last Mistake" a bit surprising, but much of the album still has a very radio-friendly melodic sense about it. This is, by no means, a bad thing at all, as it gets used to very epic effect in certain tracks, like my personal favourite from the album, the title track "Dust." Tracks like "Once Dead," "Betray Me" and "The Cage" boast both huge speed metal riffs and big melodic sing-along choruses.

Guitar playing fans will no doubt be focusing on the riffs and solos on this record. And they'd be right to, considering that Mark's playing is on fire for pretty much the entire record. But surprisingly, Mark's vocals are a pretty big show-stopper as well. While Mark has shared his vocal style on both Creed and Alter Bridge material before, he really seems to have come into his own as a vocalist on this record. While he defers to Myles Kennedy's talents in Alter Bridge, he proves himself more than capable as a vocalist in this band, and especially on this record, where it seems his vocal skills have shown a noticeable progression. A perfect example of this are his soaring harmonies in the title track, which hit me right in the gut every time.

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The album also packs a few surprises with its variety. While many of the songs contain very similar elements, Mark shows himself to be quite the consummate arranger, giving songs many different emotional and stylistic flourishes, from the huge, epic melodic choruses of songs like "The Cage" to mellower moments like "Dust" and even tackling near-psychedelic atmospheres on tracks like "Tore My Heart Out" and "Never Wrong." But for all the variety in the record, it sounds like a cohesive and coherent record. Even the very light closing track, "Unable to See," feels like it fits in perfectly.

And for the guitar fans, there is a lot to love about this record. From downtuned guitar riffs (going as low as B flat on "Tore My Heart Out") to atmospheric clean guitar passages, and all of the solos... Mark reminds us all why he is one of this generation's most respected guitar players. Tone and production-wise, his guitars sound huge and heavy, and there's even a bit of a vintage flair to the distortion and some of the clean tones (check out the phaser-laden intro of the title track!) that make this record almost sound like 1986 on steroids. Mark's solos run the gamut from shredders' delights ("Betray Me," and "My Last Mistake," which Mark recently broke down for UG in a lesson video!) to slower, more melodic affairs ("Dust," "Tore My Heart Out").

All around, the production is spot-on and the performances by the other members of the band are pretty great. Special attention goes to Garrett Whitlock on drums, who performs many excellent drum fills and intros on the record. Wolfgang Van Halen completes the rhythm section by holding down the low-end on the bass. Eric Friedman performs second guitar and vocals on the record as well, and his sound locks in very well with Mark's and provides a perfect backdrop for his playing.

Lyrics — 9
As mentioned in the previous section, Mark's vocals have been steadily improving since "All I Was," and "Dust" reaps the rewards quite well. Mark's vocal style sits well against his most immediate peers, Scott Stapp and Myles Kennedy, and to be completely fair to both of them, Mark may be able to easily give them both a run for their money on this album. The vocal arrangements are done quite well too, with plenty of great harmony vocals (some of them provided by Eric and Wolfgang), and a great sense of melodicism. Mark's vocal delivery really takes the cake on this record, with a distinctive raspiness and a much more well-developed range than previous releases.

Lyrically speaking, a lot of the songs deal with personal issues like betrayal, bad influences, relationships, self-esteem... very atypical topics for the thrash/speed metal genre. One can't help but wonder if the lyrics for songs like the title track (especially lines like "You carried the weight of everyone/After all the time we spent/Rewriting the rules that now we bend/The whole damn thing has turned to dust/You left us alone, defeated us") are allusions to former bandmates, or former lovers, but in a manner that's different for this kind of lyrical style, they're delivered with less vitriol and more melancholy. There are plenty of references to shame and faith and trust on the album, and many layers of introspection.

While the introspective style is not usually one found in speed metal, where we're too used to hearing songs about dragons and swords, it fits the style of the songs quite well on the album. Even during the band's more energetic moments, the well-written lyrics fit well in this setting.

Overall Impression — 9
So, while I am still quite a newbie to Tremonti's solo work, I find myself blown away by the new album. Almost every song reminds me of being 13 again, picking up a guitar for the first time, staring longingly at the Metallica posters on my wall and absorbing every single lesson column from Guitar World I could get my hands on, and why I play guitar in the first place. Even the short time I've spent sitting with this album has inspired my playing, and coming from someone whose tastes usually run more into the progressive metal genre, it's quite a statement to make for this album. Mark has hit a sweet spot with this album, brilliantly mixing excellent guitar playing, heavy riffage, big made-for-radio choruses, and introspective lyricism. While the album doesn't contain a big epic number like Alter Bridge's absolutely magnificent "Blackbird," there are plenty of moments on this album that hark to the kind of epic scope in that song, and the songwriting on this album is mature and even slightly progressive in its own way. The title track has to be the highlight of the album, to me, since it's the most like "Blackbird" with its epic-sounding melodies, huge-sounding choruses and excellent melodic guitar solo.

"Dust" has all the potential to earn a pretty high spot on my top 10 list of 2016, and there have already been some really great releases from other favourite bands of mine this year, like Deftones, Dream Theater, Megadeth and Textures. This album was a huge surprise for me, and this album deserves a good listen if you're a fan of excellent guitar playing and well-written songs. If this is the kind of heavy radio-friendly rock we're hearing in 2016, then I'd be pretty happy with that. If nothing else, it's albums like this that make a great case for good rock music still being alive in 2016.

70 comments sorted by best / new / date

    benmc725
    I need to listen to more of tremonti. I actually love what he did with creed and only heard a couple alter bridge songs.
    killpaddle
    Absolutly. Listen to Calm The Fire from the Fortress album, it's my favorite AB song, one of the rare without solo, and Mark has a little singing spot on it.
    Noble88
    Mark Tremonti is my guitar hero! ever since I was 15! I love this new album. About time he is finally getting the recognition he deserves. Go on Tremonti!! please tour the UK more
    JimBonJovi
    Wicked record once again. It's nice to see Mark getting the well deserved attention for his songwriting and playing abilities. Finally.
    vppark2
    Travis has joined the UG team? Good choice!
    travislausch
    Aw, shucks! I'm happy to be part of the team. Thanks for the compliment, dude. Means a lot to me
    vppark2
    Did they reach out to you?
    travislausch
    Without getting into too much detail, yes. I've been a member of the site since 2002, though, so I'd like to imagine that played into it a bit, too
    vguitars3577
    I agree. Typically writes good reviews, has unbiased opinions and isn't an ass. He's got my vote.
    travislausch
    Thanks, dude! I always strive to make my reviews better, and being on the team is really pushing me to improve them even more.
    DethCouture5150
    If there is anything wrong with this album, I can't fucking find it...
    Vincentdrummer
    This band can't go wrong! They are also the nicest and most humble people I've ever had the honor to meet. Tremonti is one of my all time musical heroes.
    Astaldo
    I'm just listening through all its glory and I must say.. Holy crap this is some awesome shit. Every hard rock fan has to buy this \m/
    Mainer
    Holy shit on toast! It took me a few spins to love Cauterize after adoring All I Was for three years. Mark claimed that Dust wasn't just Cauterize b-sides and that's for damn sure! I'm liking this one a ton
    fajaquackquack
    I really liked the album, but did anyone else feel like his song writting was a little too chorus based? He kinda just did verse chorus verse chorus, solo over chorus progression, one last chorus on every song. He sounds sick, but i was really hoping for the more progressive structure that he uses in Alterbridge
    redgravegilver
    I agree. I like this album but hopefully he can step it up with his next release having more progressive side. I like the way he does thrash but having more prog elements would definitely be a winner. I also prefer him as a vocalist over Miles(Both are great tho).
    PRSguitars87
    Ive been waiting for a tremonti Prog album (through any of his projects) for years and I just dont think hes that kinda musician. I think he could pull it off I think he just isnt into that stuff. Aside from a keyboard intros and some longer tracks like blackbird I still havent really seen anything prog from him. Each AB album gets a tiny bit more progressive each release, so who knows maybe well see a little more on AB 5.
    stefan_771
    Tremonti is a far better vocalist than Myles IMO
    D4CE
    Mark does the aggressive stuff really well. But I think that's all he's got to offer. During the ballads his voice's kinda just there. Myles is a lot more versatile. Different sounds, different tones, different dynamics. Mark has one tone that goes low and high, and that's it. It's a matter of preference of course, and I happen to love tenors, but I also think Myles' ability to convey feelings through his singing is out of this world. Mark could never pull off songs like 12/31, Summergirl and Reigns Over Me (even if you forget about his range). Myles on the other hand would do just fine on most Tremonti songs. There's plenty of anger in his voice (see songs like Ties That Bind and Sick And Wrong) Having said that, I like this project a lot and there are some really cool songs on Dust.
    Pretelethal
    For those seeing song names like 12/31 and Sick and Wrong and thinking "huh?", Myles was in a band called The Mayfield Four before he joined Alter Bridge. He plays all the lead guitar in there too. It's awesome.
    PRSguitars87
    I love myles, been an AB fan since the start. Im actually starting to like Marks voice more. Myles is def a better singer. I just think at times he gets a little too... Carried away. I love his high notes and shit I just dont think he controls his voice that well at times
    travislausch
    I'd say they're on equal footing. Myles is still pretty tremendous
    sinForge xJp
    Yeah I love Myles' voice every time I hear it, but also I just heard Dust for the first time on the radio like half an hour ago and holy crap. Mark gets STRONGER every time he puts out a record.
    Vincentdrummer
    Myles is a more technical singer. But i personally like Marks vocal sound more. It just appeals to me more.
    HarrySound
    I've always preferred the rough Hard Rock vocals. Hatfield, Corey in Stone Sour to name a couple of others. I think it takes special talent to have a background of selling 30 million plus albums with a radio friendly rock band, then make some true classic modern rock in Alter Bridge to do you own solo Metal project.\How many songs can this damn man write! I struggle writing a bloody riff!
    BwareDWare94
    While I struggle with Myles' voice sometimes, there's a HUGE difference between who you think sounds better and who has more skill, and on the skill side, that's Myles. It isn't because Mark isn't a skilled vocalist--he absolutely is, but when it comes to technical skill, Myles is far beyond many, many other rock vocalists. That being said, I hope the new AB album has more vocals from Mark. Split the vocals. Split the leads and solos. It'd make them even more unique than they already are.
    PRSguitars87
    Idk if its ever gonna happen simply because of the logistics. These guys are workaholics who never stop. They usually write year round apart from each other with their own projects so when they get time to record they just get in the studio and record without havimg to write much. I think because of that myles focuses on vocals and mark focuses on guitars. They would have to sit down face to face and actually write a whole album in order for the dual vocal approach to really work.
    swastika
    Not bad by any means , a solid effort but giving it a 9 would be a stretch, would give it 7 at most, imo this can't and won't top cauterize. there are a couple of filler tracks here whereas in cauterize there were none. this is somewhat in line with his firs release "all I was". as I said not bad at all but nothing extraordinary here.
    vppark2
    You're crazy haha I feel the total opposite. Their last album had too much filler for me. This one is just in your face the whole time. I love it. All I Was was okay, but not really as much replay value.
    swastika
    Maybe you're crazy haha!
    vppark2
    I'll admit, I only had time to preview the songs on iTunes before reading this, but I still somewhat stand by my comment. Forgot Dust is pretty soft, but it's not a bad song. It's actually my least favorite tho. First song or two didn't do much for me. Tore My Heart Out isn't bad, but the rest is golden for me at least. I still don't think there's any "filler" tho. Just a matter of taste. I'm sure the songs I didn't care as much for will grow on me over time.
    Anjohl
    Lol, the guy from Creed somehow tricked genre fans into liking his shitty numetal riffs. Lol.
    0neDayRemains12
    GTFO of here, son. Tremonti is a God. He has got more talent in his finger than you do in your entire body. Write a better riff than him and win best guitarist of the year numerous times before you speak.
    Anjohl
    Oh yeah, because one has to do (thing) to criticize and critique plworksby people who do (thing). So I guess you have no opinions at all on politics, professional sports, or movies?
    redgravegilver
    You actually believe that what you are doing is "criticizing"? There is a huge difference between actual constructive criticism and just spouting out unintelligent and shitty opinions. Then again you probably have a brain with the size of a stegosaurus to know the difference between the two lol
    Anjohl
    Lol, my brain is big enough to know that tremonti isn't 1/20th as good as the guitar heroes he tries to emulate. Blackbird would be a middle of the road song from Blackmore, Tipton, Murray, Malmsteen, Vai, etc. Something they'd add as filler to side two of an album to fill out the track listing.
    redgravegilver
    You already lost your credibility when you mentioned that souless wanker Yngwie Malmsteen. Nothing but an inferior version of Jason Becker. Also the fact that you have to compare an artist to other artists instead of judging an artist for what he is proved my point lol. But hey this is coming from the guy who thinks tremonti does nu metal riffs so that already speaks for itself
    vppark2
    Too much brain damage. I find it hilarious that "nu-metal riffs" is considered a bad thing anyway. Sevendust, for example are still kicking ass writing those riffs.
    Smokey McPot
    wow dude.... ''soulles wanker'' is extremely constructive. what a credible statement. amazing.
    JimBonJovi
    I'm all for Nu Metal riffs but Creed, Alter Bridge and some Tremonti are in the Hard Rock/Post Grunge genre(s) if anything.
    HarrySound
    His riffs are just an extension of the god like work Hatfield has done. Hard and heavy.
    michaeldavies2
    This guy is getting better and better. He has found a nice place between black, heavy and trash metal genres while being both melodic and even meaningful with lyrics without coming across insincere. The guitar talent is obvious but the singing is brilliant on this album and his confidence is obvious in comparison to All I Was. This is an album that simply gets better on each listening and is accessible to almost anyone who likes almost any genre of metal with the exception of those who insist on unclean vocals (which is fine but a very limiting criterion IMHO).
    TheInserter
    I hear a lot of early Alter Bridge on this record. An absolute phenomenal follow-up to Cauterize. 9/10
    Calymos
    I mean. it's alright. but... i like, already listened to this kind of music. ehhh.
    Jazzmandtk
    Just listened to the title track -- so not only can this dude shred guitar and write catchy songs but he can also sing? Damn...
    Snots77
    Good album! Love the title track and his "Eric Johnson/Joe Bonamassa style" lick in the solo! I was sold right away!!
    Bleatch
    What irritates me a little bit is that it is not out of Spotify yet. And I cannot purchase it on Google Play unless I subscribe to it. I have no idea when it will be released on it but I will have to resort to getting the CD version. One of the few albums I cannot wait to listen to.
    amerijckbeheerder
    It might gonna take a while for it to release on Spotify. The guys over at FRET12 do this to compensate for free listeners/piracy. Maybe when the hype is over the album will be released on Spotify.
    Magnum5x9
    Cauterize was available the day of...Don't know what's happening with Dust. Bought the CD, imported it.
    Zerath
    But people who listen through Spotify don't need to pirate the album! Now they can listen to it without pirating it and then buy a copy if they like it. Double profit.
    amerijckbeheerder
    very true! But the profits from Spotify are terribly low. Its 100% based on spins rather than returning listeners. So I think they currently don't see Spotify as a source of (enough) income. You're someone that actually buys the album when you like it, but the majority won't. Just because it's free