Angel Dust - Enlighten The Darkness

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Century Media
Catalog Number: 8043-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 52:52:00

Enlighten The Dark is the most recent release from prog metallers Angel Dust (they are working on a new one for 2002). This seems a harder, more aggressive album than 1999's Bleed. Like it's predecessor, Enlighten is a dark album, full of dark themes, though the soaring choruses of "Fly Away" stand in contrast to the subject matter. It's a very solid, full bodied album -- by which a mean there is great balance between the deep tones of the drums and bass and the light tones of guitar and vocals...light in comparison, of course. Vocalist Dirk Thurisch is no stranger to growls and screams, nor to mid-level and soaring vocals ... and appropriately placed. Oh, and he's got a great voice for doing all that, too. The songs are very tight and compact, though that doesn't mean they are short (most are in the 5-minute plus range, the longest - "Fly Away" - is 6:49). The opener, "Let Me Live" is interesting in construction, because we don't get to the chorus until we're well into the song. A staccato rhythm is used through out, and in some ways, very typical for the genre.

The might be said to be a concept album, told from the point of view of a soldier fighting a grim war - as if there is any other type. He is seeking to reclaim some of the humanity he's lost, something made clear at the get go with "Let Me Live." It isn't a linear concept, in that there isn't really a story being told here. More vignettes, exploring the same thoughts and themes from various aspects. There are ironic aspects to this album -- the soaring, emotional plea of "I Need You," which is delivered with romantic intensity. But it is not a man making a declaration to his lover, but rather a leader imploring his minions to join him in his fight. The photograph that backs the lyrics hints at Hitler, as brown tone to the photograph suggests the late 30's; the military/political leader is seen in silhouette, so it is not necessarily Hitler... and that Angel Dust are German, that might also provide a subtext not necessarily intended. If they were Italian, would we think of Mussolini? If Russian, would we think of Stalin? The answer is yes, regardless of the band's nationality. Though, we could also point our fingers to more recent examples, too.

With "Enjoy!" it is centerstage at the Coliseum - though that impression is given by the booklet artwork gracing the page the lyrics appear on: angel statuary surrounding a warrior and his defeated challenger, short-sword poised for the killing stroke. The lyrics aren't so specific that it can't also be a metaphor for televised war or even something like a fight club...or the boxing ring, come to think of it. An interesting effect is the percussion that sounds quite like the sound of steel upon steel. The driving rhythm allows you to imagine the "hero" driving his opponent back, blows being further punctuated by the bass drum. (One wonders if the film Gladiator inspired this in some measure).

The true ballad is "Beneath The Silence" which is Bernd Auferman plucking and strumming an acoustic, steel stringed guitar and Dirk Thurisch on sparse, slightly breathy vocals. The latter comes in contrast to the testosterone-fueled vocals of the rest of the album. "Beneath" melds into the power-ballad "Still I'm Bleeding," a letter from this tortured soldier to his wife -- who makes an appearance earlier in "The One You Are," given voice by Birgit Zacher and harmonizes with Thurisch here. In the former, she is one of two voices imploring him to be who he really is - loving husband and father, the other telling him to harden his heart, the dispassionate "manmachine" (from the lyric in "Let Me Live"). "Still I'm Bleeding" leads into "I Need You," which re-enforces the irony of the statement.

"Cross Of Hatred" is the "stand together and fight" song, at first united behind the cause, then united against the cause (a chorus of voices singing the...well, chorus). This adds an interesting twist on to the concept, when "Oceans Of Tomorrow" (another initially mellow, acoustic track) is considered as well -- a track that sounds very much like something Arena might do, as Thurisch sounds a bit like ex-Arena vocalist Paul Wrightson at the beginning. And, a bit like Clive Nolan, too, truthfully. The twist is he's trying to reconcile his belief and faith in God, with the realization that the war he's fought has been in the "name of God." Percussion, bass, and keys throb and pound threateningly, giving away to a soaring chorus. At one point, there is a percussive keyboard passage that sounds very mushy and tinny (I don't think it's the cymbals, but they, too, have a moment of tinniness). "Oceans..." is the mid-tempo singalong that closes the album in melancholy and resigned manner, though presented in a hopeful manner.

Musically, it is a very effective album. There is enough anger and sorrow in Thurisch's delivery to get the message across. The opening salvo is "Let Me Live," a hard driving, pounding assault, drums being the most dominant instrument. In some respects, mimicking the rapid fire of a machine gun, but not exactly. There is a denseness that reflects the feelings expressed in the song - death and blood all around. "The One You Are" is more mid-tempo but no less hard hitting. "Come Into Resistance" contains a lot of keyboards, including an uncharacteristic tootling at the beginning (not able to describe the sound any other way -- it wouldn't seem out of place with Bon Jovi, for instance).

Aside from that fact that this album has engaged my interests in theme and meaning, I quite enjoy this album from purely a musical point of view, too, and certainly recommend it to fans of this genre.

Let Me Live (5:53) / The One You Are (5:29) / Enjoy! (5:53) / Fly Away (6:49) / Come Into Resistance (5:26) / Beneath The Silence (3:06) / Still I'm Bleeding (4:19) / I Need You (5:22) / First In Line (1:15) / Cross Of Hatred (5:00) / Oceans Of Tomorrow (4:20)

Dirk Thurisch - vocals
Bernd Aufermann - guitars
Dirk Assmuth - drums
Frank Banx - bass
Steven Banx - synthesizers
Birgit Zacher and Siggi Bemm - additional voices
Zacher, Birte Stauff, Simone Hermann, Markus Bischoff, Klaus Dittrich, and Helmut Bertram - the choir

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: December 21st 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 995
Language: english


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