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"Return to Dust" by Return to Dust

Los Angeles-based alternative rock trio Return to Dust are taking the world by storm with the release of their self-titled debut album. Return to Dust comes in the wake of the band’s rising success after their single “Belly Up” went viral on TikTok, leading to over 3.1 million streams across multiple platforms, over 50,000 monthly Spotify listeners, and a coveted place on the Welcome to Rockville and Sonic Temple festival lineups. 


With Return to Dust, the band, consisting of Matty Bielawski, Graham Stanush, Sebastian Gonzalez, and London Hudson are aiming to take fans through a 90s-esque, grungy time capsule, without fully traveling back and sounding dated - and they are definitely successful. Produced by Jim Kaufman, known for his work with acts such as Everclear, Helmet, Night Riots, and Danny Worsnop, the album wears its influences on its sleeve while remaining modern and edgy. It is an extremely solid first full-length offering.


The album opens with “Black Road,” which was the band’s debut single as well as the opener/title track of 2023’s The Black Road EP. “Black Road” sets the tone for the album with its punchy guitar riffs and driving bass line, kicking things off with a lot of energy and grunginess. It also features the extremely relatable lyric “If this is a dream, then when will I wake up?” Sometimes we all want to be able to escape from our lives.


The next three tracks, “Belly Up,” “Anyway I Die,” and “Cellophane” are also re-releases from The Black Road. “Belly Up” is extremely upbeat and catchy, and very deserving of its Internet virality, while “Anyway I Die” is one of a few more acoustic-driven moments. It is definitely not what I would consider a ballad, especially as the drums pick up into the chorus, but the acoustic guitar definitely lends somewhat of a southern rock vibe to the track. Meanwhile, “Cellophane” picks the energy levels back up with some heavier riffs, and the vocals from both Bielawski and Stanush take somewhat of a haunting, gravelly turn that sounds absolutely amazing.


The first of the album’s new tracks is “Face Down,” a song that I have no doubt will become a staple in the Return to Dust live set, if it hasn’t already. “Face Down” is anthemic, with a shred-tastic guitar solo near the end of the song, and it’s definitely one of my personal favorites. 


While the first half of the album is amazing on its own, the second half is where the RTD crew really begins to shine and show off their abilities. Mid-album track “No Love” showcases an extended vocal range with some stunning higher notes, followed up by “Bad News,” which contains one of the most relatable lyrics of the whole album with its refrain “All I see is bad news,” a statement that rings all too true right now in a world where we’re so globally connected that it feels like there are new tragedies every day, sometimes even every hour.


Just before the closer, tracks 9 and 10 take listeners on a groovy rollercoaster with a pair of tracks that both contain slower verses and heavier choruses, and make for the strongest song pairing of the record. Track 9, “Live Like This”, has kind of a slow, eerie rhythm that builds into a chorus that packs a punch with the lines “Show me, how am I supposed to live like this” and “You want in, I want out,” showing, again, a sentiment that is likely relatable to many dealing with any kind of hardship in life. This is followed up with “Strangers”, the band’s most recent single, which brings back the acoustic riffs, and has a similar ebb and flow between more mellow verses and harder choruses. 


Throughout Return to Dust, the band showcases an immense talent for crafting unique sounds that are heavily influenced by their predecessors, especially bands like Alice in Chains, without sounding like they’re trying to be a 90s cover band. Return to Dust is an excellent debut full-length, and I am looking forward to seeing what’s next.

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