without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Ah, Angel Dust, one of Power Metal's unsung heroes. Bleed was their second comeback album, and also the one where they really got their shit together and started to rule. There really isn't a whole lot to write about Bleed, as it does not pack much that is especially artistic or special, just a collection of groovy, thrashing Power Metal from one of the best in the genre. Angel Dust were always a very strange band, looking back - nobody else really sounded like them after they re-united. Sure, they had a few similarities to those ever-loving tomb raiders Tad Morose, but those were only superficial, really. So how do I describe this?
Well, let's see. Angel Dust play complex, driving Power Metal with class and finesse, aiming not only to rip your head off with riffs, but also to rip your head off with riffs and class, busting out a gamut of catchy, streamlined hooks and even some tastefully executed synthesizers, which duel with the raging, blistering riffs like the Dueling Dragons roller coasters at Florida's Islands of Adventure theme park. It's kind of like taking a big beat-'em-up bully and teaching him how to use his brain in his nefarious schemes instead of just his fists - this album has both the brawn and the intelligence in spades!
The whole band moves as a unit here, with vocalist Dirk Thurisch leading the pack with his howling charisma and unstoppable energy. His voice is really something that must be heard to be believed, as he doesn't really sound anything like anyone else in the Metal scene right now, but trust me, he is definitely in the upper echelon of Power Metal vocalists. The guitars here are aggressive and snappy, maybe even packing more of a punch than several of the so-called "hateful" Black and Death Metal bands! The rhythm section backs everything up with mind-blowing technicality and heart-stopping conviction, about enough to stop a goddamn bear in its tracks. The songwriting here is extremely complex and yet also extremely memorable, and there really isn't any sort of frill or extra catch here aside from it all just being ridiculously good.
People will always cite the title track, with its Savatage-esque piano/riff combination and its driving, hook-laden chorus, as the best song on here, and it probably is. I mean, seriously, listen to that awesome riff and tell me you disagree. And that vocal performance! "Frightening shadows/Appear behind the light!" Just picture that being sung in the most vitrolic, menacing, convincing manner you can get with clean vocals, and then picture this bad-ass riff stomping along behind it, and tell me you're not sold already. But where they fail is ignoring the rest of the songs, which are all within a hair of being as good. "Follow Me Part 2" is incredibly addictive, with a hook and melody line that will never leave your head, and then they kick into the unstoppable trio of "Addicted to Serenity," "Surrender?" and "Sanity," all towering, riff-heavy constructions with time changes and rich musical trappings to spare. The remaining songs are quality, too, even if they aren't quite as good, but who cares? Buy this if you like Power Metal that stands on its own two leather-boot-clad feet.
This. Song. Fucking. Rules. Even if the rest of the album was something like Hurricane Chris "A Bay Bay" on repeat, I'd still rate the whole album at least 70. Wisely picked as the opening track, it's no wonder they named the whole album after it; this here is the absolute epitome of heavy(!) German power metal, and in case the exclamation mark in parenthesis doesn't get the point across, I mean we're talking all caps fucking HEAVY here. While the song may be built mostly around a catchy piano riff, the guitars underneath crush, maim and kill everything in sight and provide an utterly unbeatable backbone. In the art of combining heaviness and melody, this is simply unparalleled - the style is a bit similar to "piano-era" Savatage, but they were never this heavy, or good for that matter (as damn good as they may be). On a similar topic, as for building a song from light to heavy, the beginning is possibly heavy metal's greatest achievement in this category: awesome smooth piano + string intro and then SMASH!!! If this doesn't send your head into a wild headbanging frenzy, nothing will. As if that weren't enough, the vocals are nothing short of unbelievable and totally on par with the quality of the music. Think Criss Oliva's powerful shrieking, delivered in a soaring, majestic RJD fashion, and with an ungodly Tim Owens-like scream near the end to top things off. On the whole, I cannot stress enough how everything just fucking CLICKS in this one - guitars, drums, keys and vocals all come together oh so beautifully, songwriting and arrangements are dead-on and the production is of course stellar, Century Media and all. Good god, what a song. Four minutes, thirty-nine seconds of pure perfection. One of the top five heavy metal songs ever written.
Unfortunately, this makes the album somewhat of a difficult listen. With the bar set so high by one song, the fact that no other song comes close to matching it is a bit hard to overcome, initially. The rest of the album is thoroughly solid for sure, make no mistake there, but throughout the first few spins you WILL find yourself comparing the other songs to the title track more than you'll enjoy them for what they actually are. The style is pretty much as described above; a definite German crunching heaviness at work, with mid-pace being the order of the day for the most part, and the production brings to mind Century Media labelmates Jag Panzer and Iced Earth. Keyboards are featured and gives the music a bit of a Kamelot-like atmosphere (or Savatage occasionally, when it's a "plain" piano sound utilized, like in the title track), but they're only used as a backing instrument and don't sacrifice heaviness in a big way. Overall, what really separates the other songs from the title track is that they're just plain not quite as good, and especially not as easy to get into - songs that require time to sink in are usually the best ones, but not on this album. Still, though, it's all very impressive stuff and surprisingly original and progressive in style for German power metal.
I can't stop mentioning the title track; for anyone that can be bothered with the sub-genre, this song alone should be more than enough reason to look into this one. "Power metal with actual POWER" has become quite the cliché in reviews lately, but if there was ever an album to describe as such, this is it. "Follow Me (Part 1)" does stick out a bit though, as it's not only a ballad, but really damn poppy and cheesy for this band, sounding like a mix between Queensrÿche's "Silent Lucidity" (part of the verse sounds directly taken from it) and L.A. Guns' "The Ballad of Jayne". I like it quite a bit but then I like those other songs it sounds like too, so what do I know. The only song that doesn't really do a lot for me is "Liquid Angel", a much more typical German-style shit ballad that is seemingly mandatory for every German metal band to pollute their albums with (Primal Fear is especially guilty of this). But other than that, it's piledriving crunch, soaring emotion and a whole lot of headbanging action all the way. All in all, title track: must hear. The rest: highly, highly recommended.
"FRIGHTENING SHADOWS! APPEAR BEHIND THE LIGHT!" Oh fuck, I gotta go listen to it again...
Think a combination of Kamelot and Iced Earth. A strange mix, to be sure, but that describes Angel Dust in a nutshell.
This is a Power Metal band with a lot of power, as one might expect. The guitar riffage is constantly intense and just on the fine edge of thrashy, while the solos are extremely virtuosic, as one would expect from a Power Metal band. The drums are great and make sure that you never stop headbanging throughout the entire album. The vocalist is very sneery and deliberate, with Roy Khan's speed and Matt Barlow's attitude (but fortunately not his stupid melodramatic flair and penchant for being WAY too extreme with his emotions). It's a solid combination, and Angel Dust is really a solid band. There's nothing too new in what we're seeing here, but it's damn good music.
The best song on here is Bleed, which makes the Top Ten Power Metal Songs of All Time. It starts out with a really cool piano intro, then explodes into a wave of riffage, and the chorus is fantastic. Black Rain is also a very good song and lies in the same vein, although it doesn't have that cool little piano ditty. Addicted to Serenity is another of those nonstop headbangers. Really, the primary purpose of this band is to make you headbang like you were having a seizure, and they're vary good at what they do.
A solid buy for power and thrash fans. Nothing incredible (except Bleed), but the headbanging more than makes up for it.