Angel Dust formed in Dortmund, Germany, in the mid '80s as a thrash band. They recorded two albums, 1988's "Into the Dark Past" and 1989's "To Dust You Will Decay," before disbanding. The band's rhythm section, drummer Dirk Assmuth and bassist Frank Banx, reformed the band in 1998, recruiting new vocalist Dirk Thurisch, guitarist Bernd Aufermann, and keyboardist Steven Banx. Their sound changed dramatically to a British power metal style.
Angel Dust-Into The Dark Past (Scratch 880) 1986
1. "Into the Dark
"Into The Dark Past" is aggressive, fast and heavy Slayer-inspired thrash metal with precision drumming, crunchy guitar riffing and semi-technical songcraft. This is quite different from the Angel Dust that would reform in the 90's and become a favorite of power metal fans. Well since I am equally a fan of both thrash and power metal, I totally enjoyed hearing this disc, even though I didn't get to hear it until after hearing several of their power metal platters. This disc seems to be quite rare and is out of print for the time being. I imagine if Angel Dust continues to build in popularity as they have with "Enlighten the Darkness" and "Of Human Bondage" it will eventually be repressed. I am actually surprised Century Media hasn't already repressed it.
Angel Dust - To Dust You Will Decay (Disaster) 1988
1. "3rd Challenge"
"To Dust You Will Decay" was the band's second album and their last speed metal/thrash album before their untimely breakup and reformation several years later into the mighty power metal band they now are. Personally I am a huge thrash metal fan, so I totally dig this metallic assault. Vocalist S.L. Coe (Scanner/Reactor) has a smooth midrange thrash voice that occasionally breaks into some high pitched falsetto screams. One noticable difference on this sophmore disc, as compared to the band's debut, is that the band added a bit more melody. At times the band rides a fence between speed metal and what would now be labeled power metal, giving us a glimpse into the band's future sound. "To Dust" starts off with an intro that sounds like something out of Star Wars before breaking into one of the heaviest, meatiest riffs on the CD in "Mr. Inferno." This smokin' track reminds me a bit of Laaz Rockit or Agent Steel. "The King" is a full speed thrash metal assault and one of my favorite tracks on this disc. Some other standout cuts are the melodic "Wings of An Angel", "Into the Dark Past" and the catchy title track. The two bonus tracks are a nice addition, although I am not sure where these tracks come from. Any information on these tracks would be much appreciated. This album has been released a couple of times on CD. The original and more rare of the two is the original Disaster Records (10008) release. Several years later this CD was bootlegged and released by an unknown record company. I own the Disaster Records version. The two bonus tracks appear on both versions.
Angel Dust-Border Of Reality (Century Media) 1998
1. "Border Of Reality"
Angel Dust was formed way back in 1984, and after taking a decade-long hiatus, reformed in 1998 and recorded "Border of Reality." Angel Dust are one of those rare metal bands that come off as heavy and aggressive, yet retaining a sense of melody and commercial accessibility. Not that Angel Dust are a sellout. Far from it! Angel Dust are 100% heavy metal. However, their songwriting ability is just outstanding, making repeated listens a necessity. It's not a stretch to see the bands thrash metal roots, yet at the same time this is far and away from thrash metal. Epic tracks like "When I Die," "When the Wind Blows" "Behind the Mirror" and "Coming Home," could please the most discerning prog-metal fan. This disc was originally released in 1998 by the band but eventually picked up by Century Media and re-released in 2001 with two bonus tracks. "Same Eyes" was recorded during the "Enlighten the Darkness"sessions and "Easy Livin'" is a Uriah Heep cover.
Angel Dust - Bleed (Century Media) 1999
1. "Bleed" (4:39)
This is another example of why every label should have MP3s available on the internet. I checked these guys out from Century Media's page and was instantly hooked. Of course now I have their entire back catalogue and have bought everything they have released since.
All I have to say about "Bleed" Is, "What a killer CD." These guys combine the best parts of thrash, power metal and a touch or progressive metal to create a killer sound. Surprisingly they sound very American reminding me of bands like Sanctuary, Steel Prophet or even Agent Steel but they are actually from Germany. The prudent mix of synthesizers and heavy guitars leads to jaw dropping results, especially on "Bleed" and "Never." Dirk Thurisch's vocals are rough, unpolished, and aggressive, yet they fit in here perfectly. The slight German accent that pops out every now and then only adds to his charisma. "Bleed" is perhaps the heaviest track on the disc, with the rest of the music swaying from melodic, mellower passages ("Follow Me" and "Liquid Angel") to sheer heavy power metal ("Surrender" and "Never"). "Temple of the King" is a fantastic cover of Rainbow's classic track. I have heard some complain that this disc isn't as heavy as "Enlighten the Darkness" or as aggressive as "Border of Reality." I, however, can find no fault in this disc at all. Fans of any sort of power metal or progressive metal should find something to like here.
Angel Dust-Enlighten the Darkness (Century Media) 2000
"Enlighten the Darkness" is an excellent, heavy, thrashy power metal disc that is as interesting lyrically as it is musically, The Songs are written from the perspective of WWII war veteran who wonders about "the meaning of it all." The concept flows around the questions raised because of man's abhorrent brutality and evil inhumanity toward each other. Musically "Enlighten" continues in a similar vein to "Angel Dust" but with a bit more hook. This is absolutely one of the best power metal discs to be released in recent years.
Angel Dust - Of Human Bondage (Century Media) 2002
Angel Dust have become one of my favorite power metal bands since Iced Earth, and for me that is saying a lot! "Enlighten the Darkness" is perhaps one of the finest metal albums ever released, so their follow-up had a lot to live up to. I am not sure that "Of Human Bondage" is of the same caliber of that CD, but it still is a heavy, aggressive, dynamic, and powerful mix of power metal, speed metal and progressive metal. 'Of Human Bondage' starts off heavy and gets heavier, with interspersed quiet moments here and there. The title track starts off with a midpaced power metal number that intermingles punchy guitar riffs and haunting keyboards. This track leads into the even heavier "Inhuman" which itself leads into one of the heaviest, angriest songs on the disc, "Unreal Soul." This particular track has one of the coolest guitar riffs on the disc. Unfortunately the repetitive expletives within the chorus annoy me. Track four is a beautiful ballad that features a magnificent interplay between the clean guitars, the repetitive piano parts and the melodic vocals melodies. I could go on about each track, but let me try and describe it like this; if you like variety within your power metal, this disc is for you. If you like a monster portion of aggression and speed in your progressive metal, this disc is for you. If you like some melody in your thrash metal, this disc if for you. If you like heavy metal at all, this disc is for you. If you like wimpy nu-metal crap devoid of emotion, then your reading the wrong review. As with all their past discs, this disc dominated my CD player for a long time after it's initial release. I must confess, however, that after the excitement of a new release wore off, "Of Human Bondage" doesn't get as much spin time as "Border of Reality", "Bleed" and especially "Enlighten the Darkness." It's a good, solid disc, but not their best in my opinion.
Disc two is a compilation of Century Media power metal bands. Although none of the material is exclusive to this disc it still give a good overview of the label's excellent roster.