Screaming Trees – Dust – by Killian Laher
The Screaming Trees never got the attention that Alice In Chains or Soundgarden received in the nineties, nor the adulation bestowed on Nirvana and Pearl Jam. They had, in fact, been a recording band longer than any of those but were largely ignored around these parts. Classic grunge document, the Singles soundtrack featured Nearly Lost You and that definitely piqued my interest.
When Dust was released it seemed to get an avalanche of good reviews, which aroused suspicion, could it possibly be as good as the critics were saying? It’s not an earth-shatteringly original sounding album. But what it is, is ten great rock songs that could have been recorded in any decade. The Conner brothers on bass and drums are the key to the album’s sound. Neither grunge, nor metal, it’s hard rock with a classic rock twist, all heavy riffs and smouldering vibes, with occasional touches of mellotron, sitar and god knows what else. Classic rock that doesn’t lapse into cliche. Its not so secret weapon is singer Mark Lanegan’s incredible wounded bear roar that positions him as one of the finest voices of the era. Across songs like Halo of Ashes, All I Know. Dying Days features great guitar work from Mike McCready of Pearl Jam and Lanegan throwing the head back with a mighty “aw YEAH”. Make My Mind has Gary Lee Conner doing his own scorching guitar work.
Halo of Ashes:
If anything, the slower songs like Look At You and Sworn and Broken focus on Mark Lanegan’s voice even more, along the lines of his early solo work. Despite the critical acclaim, the album didn’t do well commercially. It was 1996 and the grunge movement that they had been lumped in with was in its death throws. The band never quite recovered from this and called it a day in 2000, leaving behind a seriously impressive back catalogue well worth checking out.