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Ah, Angel Dust. Somewhere between 1988 and 1998, these guys went from third rate Thrash Metal to first rate, ass-kicking Progressive Power Metal with serious balls. This was their last album to date, and that was six years ago, so who knows if we'll ever get another one from them, but this is some seriously good shit. Even though this is more streamlined and modern than their previous works, with heavier riffs and more conventional song structures and instrumentation, that does little to deter the amount of sheer ass-stomping on display here.
The title track is a good song, showcasing what Angel Dust are all about with a crunchy main riff and some slicing synth melodies, but it's the double-whammy of "Inhuman" and "Unreal Soul" that gets things going - just good, catchy fun at its finest, done by one of the best bands in the genre. "Unite" and "Forever" are equally mouth-watering displays of virtuosity, and then you get the awesome, epic ballad "The Cultman," which has singer Dirk Thurisch stretching out his vocal chords for quite an admirable performance. Definitely the best one on here, and it's nothing like what they were doing before, either, with a masterful display of acoustic guitars complimenting the heavier parts and making for a nice atmosphere. Not everything is good, though, as we also have suckjobs like the lame "Disbeliever" and the faceless "Freedom Awaits," as well as the awkward "Got This Evil," with its 80s rock influences that seem out of place on such a dark, straightforward album.
Inconsistencies are a problem here, but really the only thing holding Of Human Bondage back is the fact that it just isn't as good as Angel Dust's previous work. There are many good songs here, but none that match the brilliance of the seminal Enlighten the Darkness or the visceral, blistering intensity of Bleed - compared to those records, this one comes off as uninspired. I do like it, though. You will, too, if you enjoy Power Metal that doesn't suck.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com