Back in 2014, I got an email which contained reference to a promising thrash band from Germany called Dust Bolt. The fact that it was to Teutonic Thrash piqued my interest and I jumped at the chance to give it a listen and say some stuff about it. Needless to say, the subsequent review and interview which soon followed it went down well. It’s now roughly two years since then and the Teutonic four piece are back with album #3. Grab your denims, bullet belts and high tops… It’s time to thrash!
A howl of feedback opens up the album as the heavily crossover sounding “Sick X Brain” opens the album. 67 seconds in length, its explosive start into pounding groove helps set the scene and title track, “Mass Confusion” comes charging right in after it.
Powerful from the off, the trademark Teutonic intensity hits hard with a flurry of riffs and air raid siren like wailing screams before its down to business. Musically, it comes across a lot heavier than its predecessor “Awake The Riot”, the guitars have a fuller sound and when they aren’t blasting out quick pedal tone based thrash riffs, the chugging groove sections really make you take notice. Full of power, the title track really hammers out the mission statement for Dust Bolt – pure thrash in all forms.
“Allergy” opts for the clean arpeggiated intro which gives it a moody feel and a great build up feel. The bass really rings through with a warm sound but as soon as you hit the 40 second mark, the dirt is slapped on and a full on explosion of thrash comes in. Once again, tiptoeing the line between crossover and full on traditional Teutonic stylings, the track shifts between these feels. Full of energy in the verses, it really hits hard in the more groove laden heavier sections which are spiced up with subtle leads which ring with an ominous feel and rapid-fire licks punctuating the relentless rhythm assault. The lead is as you would expect – very expressive but thankfully, it has a clear, defined progression and isn’t just fret wankery for the sake of it.
“Turned To Grey” opens up at top speed. The full on riffing just takes control and leaves nothing to the imagination. Blistering shifting riffs and big leads come in before the verse hits and throughout it keeps this fierce edge. Slowing momentarily in the chorus, it eases up to allow more groove but the blistering pace soon returns. Gang vocals help augment some sections, giving it a bigger feel and presence and the intricate mid-section is brilliantly delivered as a wild sounding but totally controlled frantic solo dances across it, setting up the final run, laden with great groove, great riffs and some interesting lead and bass fills, a great way to end a track!
“Blind To Art” has that slower edge to it, oozing with an ominous air and a real intensity to it, similar to late 80’s/early 90’s Slayer. The rhythm section really shines in the haunting intro with the booming bassline and relentless bass drum assault. We get the typical pre-verse lone guitar riff before it all kicks in for the thunderously heavy verse and chorus combo, putting a lot more emphasis on the groove. With some great gallop sections, tight palm-muting giving a better dynamic to the sound and the way the bass drops in with a real presence and force makes for a great sound which has been one of the strong points of this release so far – the control and dynamics. “Mind The Gap” has a token, rather amusing barber shop quartet styled acapella intro before it kicks into another groove heavy thrash track, seemingly picking up where its predecessor left off, but in contrast to the moderately paced track, this one is a lot faster and more aggressive in sound and delivery. Massive sounding riffs and a really powerful rhythm section keep the fierce assault going as it shifts between ridiculously fast and fast, proving that this foursome can come up with the goods in whatever setting is required.
“Exit” changes the feel and pace completely. A slow, clean and acoustic number initially, it has a stripped back style and a real rawness to it. The clean vocals have a sorrowful tone to them which sits well with the melodies behind it and if this was ever aired live, it would be a lighters in the air moment. The bass comes in with the drums, giving a fuller sound for the second verse and the way the warm and deep bass augments the sound more, giving it an extra edge. Halfway through, the vocal scream is backed up by a shift to harsh distortion and the heaviness kicks in but the melodic, reflective theme and air around the track remains, showing a more mature side to the young band’s sound, and the well voiced Solo keeps with the theme of the track, signalling the end run where everything fades out to a lone acoustic line. After the brief moment of rest, the album then kicks in once again.
“Empty Faces” has a real speed metal feel to it, coming across as the bastard offspring of Kreator and Annihilator. The intricate riffs are delivered with ferocity and rawness, bringing with it some great windmill headbanging moments and plenty of melody which wouldn’t seem out of place in a NWOBHM band. Quicker in pace but not as intense as some of the more thrash moments on the release, it has a slightly more accessible feel but still retains that killer edge of the speed metal stylings with the blistering verses and technical edged chorus melodic progressions and the piercing leads. ‘Taking Your Last Breath” brings back the thrash feel. With an angry edge to the initial vocal delivery over the classic lone guitar thrash riff, it quickly escalates into a full on slice of groove laden thrash metal before it shifts into the familiar full-speed ahead thrash assault. Mixing the groove, rapid pace and elements of speed metal, it brings back the feel from the earlier tracks on the album, restoring some normality after the short forays into other approaches. Rhythmically tight and melodically sound in the solo’s, it’s a run of the mill thrash track which leaves little to the imagination.
“Portraits Of Decay” is the penultimate track and it brings back that atmospheric, steady build up. Shifting from clean to distorted with an ominous feel in the air, the haunting melody makes the switch to distortion but soon it snaps to life, exploding into a full on explosive feeling thrash offering. Cutting riffs, punctuated by stabbed chords which add a melodic progression to the furious chugging guitars, it has a melodic hook to it in places whilst keeping the familiar thrash groove undercurrent flowing, helping set the album up for a strong finish. “Masters Of War” brings a close on the album. It’s clean beginning, littered with intricate guitar layers and melodies helps build the mood before it shifts into a full on distorted thrash attack with a real surging feel. Surprisingly, the track is short for the final one, but the vocals coming in during the second half of the song, acting in a very sharp manner, with some intensity to them works well enough, paving the way for a fade out to the clean melody which draws a close on the album.
Overall, this is another solid effort from the promising Teutonic Thrash machine. Heavier than their previous offering with more precision and tone, more than likely down to experience, Dust Bolt have continued what they started back on Violent Demolition and refined on Awake The Riot and have produced another great thrash album with “Mass Confusion”. Politically charged lyrics, blistering riffs, plenty of windmilling groove and air raid siren screams to boot, it’s another thrash album which joins the many great thrash offerings released this year.