Angel Dust - Of human bondage 3.5/5

Reviewed: 4-27-04


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

The real star of this CD is how effectively compelling, memorable melodies are woven together so tightly with the dark, technical instrumental sound of the band, and it's amazing work. If you told me on paper that this band would have this approach, it wouldn't sound appealing to me, especially relative to the types of metal I love most, but they not only make it work, they make it into something I almost obsessively keep listening to. This and Tad Morose's 'Matters of the dark' are constantly trading off in my player, and each one seems to be about 5 minutes long based on how frequently I find myself wanting to start each one up again after its strains have, too quickly, finished playing.

The title track opens up the CD with aggressive energy, while the melodies on songs like "Unite" are positively overwhelming. New guitarist Ritchie Wilkinson (and tour guitarist with Demons & Wizards...Wizards & Demons, er, whatever...) is amazing, laying out a potpourri of tight, aggressive, brooding and powerful riffs which work perfectly in counterpoint to the vocals. Those vocals are courtesy of Dirk Thurisch, like their last few CDs, and he does a great job of combining soulful melodies with a display of anger, that adds its own great notes to this combination. The rhythm section of Dirk Assmuth on drums (ah, too bad these guys weren't on Beavis and Butthead, they would have loved them...) and Frank Banx on bass pound out the tremendous drive of this CD, and keyboardist Steve Banx does a good job, the keys are an important and integral part of the sound. But unlike a lot of the neo-classical bands, especially the Italian ones, the keys aren't used as another lead instrument, but to create a tremendous atmosphere and sound that adds to their uniqueness.

As dark and grim as this CD can be, songs like "The cultman" can also soar with lush inspiration, and cultured delicacy, a tremendous "ballad" in the sense of its mellowness, but far from ordinary; and no matter what, there is always haunting melody. The band covers "Killer" by Seal, and while I would never have expected to hear that on a metal CD, they do a great job on it, turning it into a quintessentially Angeldustian mix of hard-edged thrash and evocative melody (while it's an odd choice of source for a song to cover, it's a much better choice than some as it really works with the mood of this CD, having no idea what the original is like).

Overall, the best praise I can give this CD is that it is something I just want to keep hearing over and over. The songs are just so hooky, and as much as it appeals to all my instincts, it also sounds amazingly fresh with its dark, sumptuous, and aggressive melodies. A magnificent combination and a stunning CD!




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