Written by Daniel Boyer, posted by blog admin
Dust of Days’ second full length studio album, Analog Mind Bender, greatly expands on the possibilities hinted at on their debut release, Thomas & Grace, and its EP successor Ethers and Embers. Frank Lettieri Jr.’s songwriting, already quite solid, has been deepened by his response to personal tragedy and the new territory he’s pushed himself into has an obviously inspiring effect on his band mates, particularly guitarists Jim McGee and Mike Virok, and results in their most memorable work yet as a band. Bassist Scott Silvester rounds out the lineup and he forms a mammoth rhythm section with Lettirei’s drumming. The alt rock muscle they flex on this release is cast in the best possible light by warm, visceral production that keeps the music in your face throughout the entirety of the release, but knows how to handle the genuine nuance present in more than a few of these songs.
The title track memorably begins the album. Despite the title “Analog Mind Bender”, the title song has a traditional slant and is very much cut from an alt rock cloth. McGee and Virok whip up a raucous guitar attack that’s adorned with understated touches of color. Despite the familiarity heard in their approach, Dust of Days manage to distinguish themselves from the pack thanks to small but significant brushstrokes like the chiming guitar fill recurring throughout the song. “Aurora” mixes straight forward vocals with talking during the verses, but outside of that, this is probably much closer to a pure metal stomper than alternative rock track. The rhythm section of Lettieri and Silvester come across mammoth here. The first indication we get on the album that the band can vary their presentation comes with the song “Mustang”. There’s a strong Chris Cornell influence in the song’s vocals and the moody arrangement is ideal for the song’s lyrics. The best pure riffer on Analog Mind Bender, “Heavy”, shows off that same Soundgarden influence, but no one will get the feeling that the band is actively seeking to imitate them. Great bands and artists filter their influences through their own experiences and personality rather than merely regurgitating the poses of those more talented.
“My Dear” is another moody gem. The band shows exquisite patience developing it over its four minutes, particularly with the guitars. McGee and Virok’s playing seems to ebb and flow throughout the piece, swelling in volume, then retreating back into shadow. The beautifully mournful lead guitar lines make a tremendous difference here and elevate the performance several notches. Silvester’s relentless bass gives “The Circus” a fierce pulse from the first and the band soon unleashes their most ferocious rock attack yet on the album. There are definitely punk and extreme metal influences running through this one, but it’s once again uniquely reflected through their individual consciousness in a fresh and inventive way. The album’s penultimate track is an excellent final example of how the band regularly pushes the envelope and challenges listeners preconceptions about Dust of Days’ music. “The Shore” is a piano driven piece with artful vocals, a muted tone, and even some strings bringing a fine lyrical touch to the work. This is not your run of the mill alt rock/metal band. Dust of Days is aiming for posterity writing and recording albums this ambitious and they have the talent on hand to make it work.