Angel Dust


Angel Dust - Bleed ©1999 Century Media
1. Bleed
2. Black Rain
3. Never
4. Follow Me
5. Follow
6. Addicted To Serenity
7. Surrender
8. Sanity
9. Liquid Angel
10. Memories
11. Temple Of The King
12. Nightmare

Bleed, the quintessential eighties album for the nineties, is another fine example of the old guard playing power metal the traditional way, irresponsive of changing musical weather patterns. Truly, Angel Dust's music is conservative for our times, but their musicianship and songwriting talent is undeniably strong. A bit of history: this Dortmund-based group was launched way back in 1984, and after taking a decade-long hiatus, reformed in 1998 with their comeback album Border of Reality.

Bleed is my first experience with the German quintet, and though I'm not very fond of power metal in general, their fourth release is quite the rewarding listen. The prudent use of synthesizers leads to magical results here, especially on the self-titled track and "Never." Whether by luck or by skill, Angel Dust create music that is simultaneously epic and driving, without the excesses that ruin most power metal bands for me. One caveat: Dirk Thurisch's vocals are grating at times, though one can say the same about every other band in this scene. His singing style has a rough, unpolished, aggressive edge that's atypical of the subgenre, one that really adds to the urgency and immediacy of the music. Otherwise, expect a high, squealing falsetto. No lyrics; damn promo CDs to hell!

The album opens with "Bleed", arguably the best song in the collection. An unaccompanied piano introduces us to the title track, and the music builds to a faster tempo, with symphonic highlights broadening the power metal melodies. "Black Rain" contains an excellent guitar solo with some great chord progressions, while "Follow Me" and "Liquid Angel" are the two mandatory ballads, arranged in highly predictable album positions. "Sanity" begins in a Rammstein-like march rhythm, with Rammstein-like synth accompaniments, though the rest of the song is your standard Deutschland-style heavy metal fare. The band plays some electro-rock on "Temple of the King" - perhaps some of the members spent the hiatus listening to Kraftwerk? This song doesn't really work, but I must give them kudos for the effort. In fact, the second half of the album pales in comparison to the first, but the music has more than enough energy to propel the record to its conclusion. Really, Bleed is all you can ask for in a power metal album.

Review by Jeffrey Shyu

Review date: 01/2000

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Enlighten The Darkness

Angel Dust - Enlighten The Darkness ©2000 Century Media
1. Let Me Live
2. The One You Are
3. Enjoy!
4. Fly Away
5. Come Into Resistance
6. Beneath The Silence
7. Still I'm Bleeding
8. I Need You
9. First In Line
10. Cross Of Hatred
11. Oceans Of Tomorrow

The members of Angel Dust have come a long way since the days of their formulaic thrash-n-roll of the 80's. This is a band that has grown up. This newest CD is a wonderfully mature disc from a band that has stood the test of time.

Enlighten the Darkness is a heavy, punchy mix of thrashy power metal and progressive metal. It is lyrically and conceptually mature and deep. This is not a mindless bit of musical flotsam, but an album worthy of note. One of the biggest pitfalls for many power metal bands is to neglect the lyrics. Enlighten The Darkness offers some of the best lyrics you're going to find on any power metal album. This album looks at man's inhumanity to man and at the "darkness" within each person's heart. It is written from the perspective of WWII war veteran who wonders at the meaning of it all. The concept weaves the songs together nicely and makes this a concept album in my eyes. The concept is based on the repeating cycle of abhorrent brutality in the name of a greedy ideal and its impact on ordinary people.

The concept is deep and moving, and it is carried off with real flair and style. The music gallops along at a frenetic pace interspersed with quiet moments of contemplation and some really great singing. The guitars riff and chug along, almost always in the front of the music. The keys are present but usually as backing material. They provide atmosphere to many of the songs creating some lofty and picturesque movements. The open and spacious moments bracket an old-school punch that is catchy and very accessible to the audience. This disc is one of those that hooks you on the first listen and draws you in with each subsequent listen.

The song writing is magnificent and the play is top-notch. If you like substance in your power metal, this disc is for you. If you like a bit of heft and thunder in your progressive metal, this disc is for you. This is an awesome disc, start to finish.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 06/2001

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Of Human Bondage

Angel Dust - Of Human Bondage ©2002 Century Media
1. The Human Bondage
2. Inhuman
3. Unreal Soul
4. Disbeliever
5. Forever
6. Unite
7. Got This Evil
8. The Cultman
9. Freedom Awaits
10. Killer

Angel Dust is one of those bands that has seemed to exist at the fringes their entire (dual) career. Originally they were a pretty obscure thrash band in the 80s and then were reborn in the 90s as a fringe power metal band that never quite took to the overall Gamma Clone sound like so many others. Apparently personality differences split the band the first time and their second incarnation has seen its share of problems. On Of Human Bondage, guitarist Bernd was replaced by Ritchie Wilkinson.

Anyhow, Of Human Bondage is actually a tolerable record in a field of music dominated by putrid acts. The main reason for Angel Dust being spared the SSMT Sword of Nastiness is that they don't rely on the pitter-patter double bass drum patterns, high pitched Kiske wailing, and Stratovariscaling for solos. Their sound is more along the lines of, perhaps, Nevermore, but thankfully without Dane wailing. In fact, the distinct lack of wailing helps immensely. Singer Dirk Thurisch can hit some of the higher notes, but doesn't feel the need to split eardrums each time he is given a line to sing. The other reason I'm being gentle on Angel Dust this morning is some of the songs on Of Human Bondage are enjoyable, though far from mindblowing. The band understands how to tastefully use melodies and provide a few hooks. There are a couple missteps. For instance, "Disbeliever" strays into 80s power ballad territory. And a couple of the songs are just dull. But overall, this album rises up from mediocre to be merely average.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2004

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