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Dust To Dust Sick

By Kip Massey, Contributor
Friday, August 29, 2003 @ 11:19 PM

(Music Cartel)

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Dust to Dust have been kicking up a lot of (oops, bad pun, never mind) in music circles, both with their 2001 debut and with the new album Sick. Yet nobody seems to be able to describe what they sound like. Well then, allow me! They sound like nu-metal at first, but give it a closer listen and you’ll hear they have more going on for them than you might initially guess.

But not much more. The music, largely the work of lead man and multi-instrumentalist Rob Traynor, seems to favor that particular rhythm so popular in today’s music. I would call it a rap beat, but that doesn’t seem to be it. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. And yet the drums actually seem to be played live rather than looped, and the guitar riffs are, for the most part, exactly that: riffs. They use more than one note, sometimes even several. Traynor has that ordinary-guy voice, but without the whine or over-earnestness. Kinda of like a David Draiman without the lithp or monkey-house sound effects. Kenny Hickey of Type O Negative stops by to lend some guitar leads, but if any of you Type O fans are thinking about buying this CD just for that, don’t. Hickey may well be a fine guitarist, but it doesn’t come across very much here. And oh look, kids: one-word song titles like “Rot,” “Sick,” “Shame,” “Cursed.” Oh my!

That being said, it’s not all bad here. Traynor is a good songwriter with an ear for a hook. You can’t keep your head from bobbing (although not outright banging) to the propulsive groove of “Rot. (“Propulsive groove” is one of those terms we learn in reviewer school, at least until I quit going to class.) The title track is somewhat slower, but still with a memorable chorus, but with those earnest I-feel-so-trapped lyrics. Good guitar solo here, relatively speaking. Another fast groover shows up in “Think About It,” with another catchy chorus.

After the first three pretty decent songs, the album starts to lose steam, aided by a couple of boring slower tracks in a row up next. The title “Barely Breathing,” just about sums it up. Where other bands of this particular stripe, like Sevendust, are more interesting when they slow things down, Dust to Dust just plod dully along. “Fix On” has a pretty cool riff to it that uses not one, or even two, but several chords, and a nice sharp distortion sound as well.

I was going to skip the next two songs, because I couldn’t remember anything about them to write about, but I figured that would be a total cop-out, so I went and got the CD out and am listening to “This Way,” as I write this. It has some weird guitar effect in the verses. Not reverb or delay, but it makes the sound sort of bubble and quiver. Don’t confuse fancy effects for guitar genius though. Mildly-catchy song nonetheless. Trouble is, it’s damn near indistinguishable from the next track “Pusher,” except the latter doesn’t have that bubbly thing going on, but some other thing in the verses that makes the guitar notes sound like church bells. There’s also a rackety solo and a little more aggression. But not much.

Then, in case you weren’t bored already, we get another ballad in the form of “Shame.” More of that chimey guitar effect, and angst-filled lyrics that remind us that the world is indeed a fucked-up place. Thanks for the update, Rob!

“Cursed,” is next, with a fuzzy, almost Sabbath-like riff laid over another one of those rhythms I was talking about earlier. “Hey!” Traynor hollers “Hey!” every so often, almost as if he were enjoying himself! This is another relative highlight. And immediately after that, we get what could’ve been the album’s most rockin’ track, “Supadupamachoman.” Did you cringe when you saw the title? I know I did. Luckily, there’s no rap to be found here. There is the chorus, which, as near as I can make out, goes “Supadupamachoman, if he can’t fuck her, no one can!” And the song has an actual rock ‘n’ roll beat to it, although Traynor doesn’t manage to get his voice out of his gruff midrange to actually have a little fun with the song. If any song deserved a little whooping and hollering, I would’ve picked this one rather than the last.

The album closes with another slow track, and this is the only mildly interesting one here. “Blue Sky Lie” actually uses an acoustic guitar, and not just slapping some mellow effects onto an electric one.

I’m not going to say Sick is a bad album. I, as your reviewer and purveyor of taste (or lack thereof), personally find it rather boring. Just not my kind of music. If you like bands like Sevendust, Soil, Flybanger, and bands of that ilk—almost nu-metal, but not quite—you’ll eat this right up. I’m going to be generous and openminded and give Dust to Dust three stars for at least trying.

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