Angel Dust - Of Human Bondage

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

Continuing the much heavier direction the band took with 2001's Enlighten The Dark, Angel Dust released Of Human Bondage. This album certainly chugs, with most of the tracks become a solid wall of chugging guitar (Ritchie Wilkison), bass (Frank Banx), and drums (Dirk Assmuth) -- a sonic assault sure to rattle your brain inside your head. The tracks that provide some respite are the lyrical, power ballad "Disbeliver" and the acoustic "The Cultman." I love the way Dirk Thurish sings here on both tracks. In fact the highlight for me with Angel Dust, I realize, is Thurish's voice. The way his voice soars for the choruses becomes cathartic. Here we get a real chance to hear Steven Banx keys, though their tone seems oddly out of place on "Disbeliever" (one of my favourite tracks on the album). "The Cultman" actually sounds, in part, more like something we'd expect from Arena (circa The Visitor) than this edition of Angel Dust (perhaps not so much from their earlier releases).

Otherwise you are pummeled with the triple dose of "The Human Bondage," which has Thurish's clean vocals doubled with growling vocals, "Inhuman," and "Unreal Soul," which repeats, though in a different manner, the mix of vocals. In both cases it works. Not that Thurish a syrupy vocalist to begin with. He delivers the lyrics with a great deal of emotion, such as the wrenching chorus of "Inhuman," There is some percussion that sounds strangely jingly, like drummer Dirk Assmuth is bashing a tambourine.

Wilkison, Banx and Assmuth make for a very tight unit, of course, but leave very little space in the arrangements of the heavier tracks. Beneath that wall of sound, though, there are often some interesting things going on, a bit of guitar here, a drum fill there, some keys... all of which I wish were a little more prominent. Of course, the solos are brought up in the mix, as you'd expect.

"Disbeliver" and the industrial sounding "Unite" are the likely "single" candidates. This latter track adds what sounds like digital drums to the mix with a darkly bubbling effect (that which gives it a industrial feel). Banx' keys are a better fit in this track, a track that like the first three that open the album, attacks at full throttle. Well, this is a metal band after all. The brief instrumental break is akin to something we might expect from the less assultive bands like Threshold (though personally, I thought of Marillion's "Grendel").

The theme Enlighten The Dark was war, and this theme returns in "Forever," where a reading of the lyrics will suggest both martyr-terrorists (of any source) and the Palestian/Israeli conflict. I like the dynamics at play on this track, as it moves away from the lock-step bash-bash-bash that starts the album, meaning while guitar is playing this phrase, drums are doing that, and keys something else, all working together. In other words, a little more "progressive" than what we get initially. Yet, without losing any of the power. "Got This Evil" sounds a bit like something Metallica would do, only much heavier.

The album ends with a cover of Adamski's "Killer." I'm not familiar with the original, but this version sounds at times like a metallic version of Electric Light Orchestra playing a bluesy rock number. Thurish's vocals are given a hollow, digitized effect... um, Styx used that effect in "Mr. Roboto."

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: December 2nd 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1043
Language: english


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