The odd, comical hand-drawn cover art might throw fans off (including this reviewer), but Dust Bolt’s latest offering, Mass Confusion, is a great example of the old “don’t judge a book by its cover” saying. For those unaware, Dust Bolt are a relatively young but completely authentic thrash metal band from Germany. Mass Confusion is their third album, and sounds like it came straight out of 1988. For thrash metal, that’s a good thing.
The festivities get off to a rousing start with the frantic one-minute cut “Sick X Brain,” a great example of what’s in store for us. Furious, chunky riffs, jackhammer drumming, and Death Angel-ish vocals are the order of the day. From here we drop straight into the title cut, staccato riffs, pulsating drums and bass to open, but Lenny Breuss puts an end to that with an hysterical shriek, and off we go with more glorious thrashiness.
“Allergy” begins with a clean guitar melody and subdued rim shots, but again this is merely an illusion, and half a minute in the band cuts loose. This formula is repeated a couple of times on Mass Confusion – album closers “Portraits of Decay” and “Masters of War” follow a similar path. Elsewhere the band’s sense of humor shines through on “Mind The Gap,” with its acapella intro, and Breuss tries to actually sing with moderate success on the changeup “Exit.”
Production-wise this is a very well done recording, with sound rooted in thrash’s heyday. There are no modern tricks at play here; the sound and mix are genuine, raw, but at the same time professional and balanced. Nothing takes a back seat to anything else – heck, you can even hear the bass guitar throughout.
Five years ago Dust Bolt won the Wacken Open Air Metal Battle, and in the time since have honed their craft, giving us some excellent thrash on Mass Confusion. They’ve trimmed the fat that was present on 2014’s overlong Awake the Riot, and their tighter focus has resulted in a much more enjoyable record. They don’t have the longevity yet, but Dust Bolt show that they have the potential to play with the likes of Kreator, Exodus, and other mainstay thrash acts.
(released July 8, 2016 on Napalm Records)