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If German speed metal is your thing, check it out - 80%

Xeogred, May 1st, 2007

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.