Written by David Shouse, posted by blog admin
New Jersey’s Dust of Days has returned with their second studio album and first release in four years, Analog Mind Bender. The promise of Thomas and Grace, their 2012 debut album, is fulfilled and the future is laid out by this new twelve song collection wrought from personal upheaval and fueled by an inspired spirit willing to wrestle with enormous questions and issues. There’s a heavy pallor hanging over the album and light-heartedness certainly comes at a premium, but it never fails to be musically entertaining thanks to their powerful two guitar attack and the harnessed thunder of bassist Scott Silvester and songwriter/vocalist Frank Lettieri Jr’s drumming. The production really captures the rough, soulful spirit of this band while still depicting them as a distinctly modern unit. Influences are, likewise, represented quite well in the songwriting without ever lapsing into self-indulgence or outright imitation – the music has obvious reference points allowing listeners to locate it within a specific school or tradition, but the band thankfully never considers themselves hidebound to follow formula.
Even on songs where the band is clearly making some concession to genre, like the title track that opens things up, Dust of Days wisely sprinkles something uniquely their own into the mix that gives the performance an imaginative twist. “Aurora” takes things in a more outsider direction with its mix of singing and talking and the knife edge sharpness of the guitar attack gives the performance plenty of bite. Labels ultimately mean nothing, but this is one of a few examples on the album where what Dust of Days is doing clearly leans in a much more metal direction than anything one might associate with “classic” alternative rock sounds. You hear a whiff of Seattle asserting itself in the music, however, on tracks like “Mustang” and “My Dear”. If for no other reason, the songs are notable for the clear illustration they provide of how adept Dust of Days is at shifting gears from the white knuckled rock fury of the earlier songs into something more nuanced. Both songs are real brooders with deceptively simple and evocatively arranged guitar parts perfectly complemented by the rhythm section.
“Death Vibrations” erupts with ear-piercing feedback before slipping into a thrashing punk rock jaunt with a rugged and clinched fist vocal. Despite the punk rock influence running through the track, listeners are treated to a particularly good guitar solo near the song’s end. “Gamma Ray” returns the band to a more traditional alternative rock setting with its direct riffing and occasionally skewed guitar passages. The refrain might turn some people off if they hear it as whiny, but you have to take the whole song in to understand what the band is going for here. “Porcelain” is cast from the same mold as the earlier “My Dear” and “Mustang”, but even slower and more focused on atmospheric. There’s an universe of moods coming across on a performance like this and the dream like way it wafts past a listener is quite memorable. “The Shore” goes even further in showing off how well rounded Dust of Days truly is with its inclusion of strings and the quiet intensity of its piano playing. This is a four piece willing to go places few bands of their ilk ever would and Analog Mind Bender is testimony to their talents for pulling it off.