Angel Dust - Of Human Bondage

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Century Media
Catalog Number: 8143-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 46:54:00

Angel Dust return with their fourth CD in four years with something that I love right at the beginning - sound panning! Left, right, left, right! Cool. The first few songs within Of Human Bondage are heavy - some of the heaviest material they've created - and this German fivesome have once again gone overboard when it comes to power metal heaviness. But it doesn't last too long with an overall unbalanced album.

Angel Dust's guitars are (still) quite aggressive but more so groove dominated with touches of acoustics on some of the slower numbers. Their new guitarist is American Ritchie Wilkison (Silencer) who manages to roughen up the sound but maintain the "weirdness" that was always Angel Dust. He is a great replacement for departed Bernd Aufermann. The fast numbers are strong and include the openings "The Human Bondage," "Inhuman," "Unreal Soul," and what I would consider the best track from the album "Unite" (which sounds like the faster tracks from Bleed). The problem here is that they threw these numbers in as the opening tracks leaving not a lot of room to manoeuvre later on the album.

Getting back to the slower numbers, it is these that bring the CD down slightly. The songs are still heavy and obscenely riff-oriented but the music is not as speedy and I miss that and I'm sure you will too. Out of the 10 tracks, 3 of them are a mix of ballads and barely mid-tempo songs including "Disbeliever," "Forever," and "The Cultman." I like the odd slower number but at the same time, Angel Dust excel when they speed their melodic power metal up a few notches. "Got This Evil" is probably the weakest song they've done in recent years due mainly to lacklustre music and Dirk's done-it-before vocal melodies (but one out of ten is not problem) and "Freedom Awaits" is similar but a much better song. The album concludes with the song "Killer" (performed in the past by Seal).

The melodies, ever present in Angel Dust, in particular within the choruses, are heavy and creative - especially since Dirk Thurisch (v) has one of the most amazingly different power metal vocal styles going around right now. It's rough, melodic and distinctive. The keyboards, performed by Steven Banx, are layered magnificently in the mix and don't detract from the overall metalness of the album creating dark and melancholic moods with pseudo Sci-Fi/orchestral flavours added to it.

In conclusion, Of Human Bondage is a top album that excites but doesn't live up to their previous albums (Bleed and Enlighten The Darkness) due mainly to the overall balancing of the album and a few drops in quality on some tracks. Its longevity is a given, as previous albums have shown, which is why this is still getting quite a high mark. Oh, and terrific cover art!

[This review originally appeared November 2002 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]
The Human Bondage (4:12) / Inhuman (4:02) / Unreal Soul (4:57) / Disbeliver (5:43) / Forever (5:22) / Unite (4:58) / Got This Evil (4:01) / The Cultman (6:11) / Freedom Awaits (4:25) / Killer (4:33)

Ritchie Wilkison - guitars
Dirk Assmuth - drums
Dirk Thurish - vocals
Steven Banx - keyboards
Frank Banx - bass

Into The Dark Past (1986)
To Dust You Will Decay (1988)
Border Of Reality (1998)
Bleed (1999)
Enlighten The Darkness (2000)
On Human Bondage (2002)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin DE

Added: November 26th 2004
Reviewer: Gary Carson
Artist website:
Hits: 1113
Language: english


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