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When we think of German speed/power metal, what usually comes to mind? Helloween, Blind Guardian, etc...sound familiar? Take Walls of Jericho and the Keeper albums by Helloween, Battalions of Fear by Blind Guardian, maybe a great thrash album like Vendetta's Go and Live.... Stay and Die, and combine them into the ULTIMATE power/thrash album! Yes, the keyboard-driven power metal band you might know from the 90's and early 2000's wasn't always that "laid back" (if you want to call it that!). Angel Dust didn't hold back in the 80's and ESPECIALLY not on this album! It has it's super thrashy tracks as well as it's power metal classics scattered all throughout this masterpiece!
To Dust You Will Decay was the follow up to the pure speed metal debut Into the Dark Past. These two albums both share their moments of speed metal glory, but this sophomore release was WAY more melodic and had a new singer by the name of S.L. Coe. Coe had also sang for another great power/speed metal band called Scanner on their second album Terminal Earth. To Dust You Will Decay pushes the limits in every way possible here and really shows what kind of amazing singer S.L. Coe actually was! Terminal Earth was a little more "straight forward" than this. Imagine some of the most tightest riffs imaginable in the genre, crazy shredding solos, super memorable and slightly epic melodies all coming together to challenge the best of the best! This album is so monstrous that I wouldn't be surprised if Kai Hansen himself was awed by it's greatness! For all musicians out there, some of these riffs will make your head spin. If you're a guitarist and can pull off the ultra complex thrash numbers like "The King" and the title track "To Dust You Will Decay" than you are officially GREAT. Helloween and Blind Guardian both show some top notch talents, but this takes it above and beyond.
Now let's talk about the songs themselves and the overall production of the album. There are 9 original tracks and 2 bonus tracks called "Flight to Russia" and "Dawn of the End with a grand total of 11 tracks. The bonus tracks are every bit as great as the rest of the album so they fit like a glove! The production couldn't be better also! You can really tell it is a product of the late 80's with much reverb unlike the more "dry" debut. I think the reverb sounds great here giving the songs more atmosphere. Everything on this album also sounds very clear, which is really great because there are so many notes and runs crammed everywhere!
The album begins with a nice little epic intro track that shifts quickly into the menacing, yet slightly bizarre "Mr. Inferno". Angel Dust definitely decided to hit us with something thrashy and very unique. Some of these riffs are very odd-timed and just wait till it gets to the chorus! It's powerful and sounds almost apocalyptic! Then it goes to a few more "heavy/power metal" moments rather than the speed/thrash sound of Mr. Inferno. They even did a sequel to their debut album called "Into the Dark Past Chapter II", which sounds nothing like the first album at all, but more of very epic power metal! The album decides to hit you even harder in the middle of the album with "The King" and the title track. These songs are certainly some mesmerizing thrash metal that will leave you dropping your jaw after every riff, lead, and run played ever so tightly! After the album already leaves you wondering, "well, I think I've heard it all, this album couldn't possibly have more to offer... could it??"
The answer is... YES. The album finishes with more classic power metal that always seems to throw in a headbanging thrash riff for good measure. As for the bonus tracks, it certainly adds to the album to make a great thing even better! "Flight to Russia" is a very well-done instrumental and the second bonus track "Dawn of the End" is more of a ballad, but strangely it's a fantastic way to end such an album as this. It's a good way to bring you down easily from all the amazement that has just graced your ears...
This album definitely deserves a perfect score, for it doesn't lack in anything! The songwriting is topnotch with every song being entertaining. In all fairness it's way more entertaining than the debut and personally I wish they would have done more like this... But ah well, Border of Reality was a great comeback anyway, but still doesn't compare to this epic masterpiece! Every track is a highlight!
Now, for those who actually buy their music like me, these CD's have been out of print for a good while. The general price for To Dust You Will Decay is around $30.00, but it is worth 50 or even 100 in my book! There are also some bootlegs that were floating around for a while, my first copy was a bootleg and I purchased it about 7 or 8 years ago. Even though its a bootleg, it's a good one and I might even say that it's better than the original. However, if you're a completist you might have both versions like myself.
Bottom line... GET THIS ALBUM NOW!!! If you like Helloween, Scanner, early Blind Guardian, etc. you can't go wrong!!!
No, this isn't another "Walls of Jericho", "Battalions of Fear", "Gates To Purgatory" or anything, but is definitely something that would fit on the shelf right below them. It definitely seems much more polished over their debut before this, and much more mature. This is still the old speed/thrash Angel Dust of their older days, and is drastically different compared to their newly reformed sound, which could be thrown in a big pile of power metal.
This album features S.L. Coe on vocals, probably mostly infamous for his vocals on Scanner's "Terminal Earth", who would later go on to sing for the extremely obscure band Reactor (and eventually created his own self-titled band). Coe has always been one of those vocalists I really enjoy. He isn't mindblowing by any means, but always seems to give out an incredible performance, and his voice is very self distinguished and original. His vocals here are top notch, and are actually easier to hear than his vocals on "Terminal Earth". Scanner fans would probably really enjoy this. Thanks to him all of the chorusese here are extremely catchy and enjoyable. Because of his energetic performance alone, this album becomes a very enjoyable one.
The aggression does tend to feel a bit toned down compared to their debut, but at the same time this feels so much more mature and there's actually some memorable songs. The production is very good for its time, and especially coming out of Germany. The instruments and mixing are pretty comparable to Blind Guardian's debut, but slightly better and clearer. Everything is really easy to hear.
As for the style, its your typical German speed metal sound with a few more thrash moments than its predecessors. This kind of stuff probably gets its thrash image from the aggression, but for the most part speed metal out of this area tends to focus more on catchy rhythm's and melodies than some of the stuff you might hear out of the States (certainly not the case for all thrash, but to make a point). The King, Angel Dust You Will Decay, The Duell, and the instrumental Flight to Russia sound like something you'd hear right out of the Bay Area. All very great tracks. The intro is actually pretty cool, and after that the first three tracks Mr. Inferno, Wings of an Angel, and Into the Dark Past (Chapter II) carry on the German sound more than anything else on here. Fast, energetic, and with some great catchy choruses. Into the Dark Past is probably one of the best tracks on here, especially when it gets towards the end. Emotions just spill out with the incredible harmonies, and the blistering solo's come back for revenge. Stranger is one of the more diverse numbers, with some of their best melodies, and not to mention the incredible layered acoustic leads in the background fit perfectly. Only to build up to more dual blistering solo's. Hold On is pretty similar in style, and often sounds like something you could have heard from Scanner. The final track also comes off as a little more dynamic and diverse like the previous two songs mentioned, building up to great ending. The very end repeats the intro song in a sense that you could just go back and listen to whole thing over again, and would probably enjoy it.
Way better than their debut, and very underated. Personally I haven't been able to get into Angel Dust's newer stuff, but I really enjoyed this album. So if you're in a similar case and their new stuff doesn't do much for you, it'd still be worth checking out this release. Fans of early German speed metal, and bands like Running Wild, Helloween, Gamma Ray, Scanner, Blind Guardian, Iron Savior, and so forth would probably really enjoy this one. Definitely a great album with some amazing moments.