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Revisit the Past in all Its Dark, Hyper-Velocity - 100%

bayern, June 5th, 2017

The greatest full-length debut in German speed/thrash metal history is no mean feat. It’s no wonder that the guys changed the direction right after that; they simply didn’t wat to compete with their magnum opus, an album that literally exploded on the scene in the distant 1986 enhancing the speed/thrash metal craze that had already taken voluminous proportions worldwide. This album is a hybrid which sits in the company of Destruction’s “Infernal Overkill” and Exumer’s “Possessed by Fire” those two also crossing both genres, all three some of the finest examples of the blend.

Still, this gem here seems to shine the brightest sounding every bit as ravishing as at the time of release thirty years ago. The orchestral instrumental title-track inaugurates “the carnage” with sinister intimidating tones which grow into the gorgeous speed/thrashing melee of the opening “I’ll Come Back”, a most combustible speed metal anthem to which my neck owes its most serious sprain, again in the dark past. It’s difficult to describe these historical 5-min during which a downpour of steel, sharp lashing riffs will shower the listener who may bypass the interesting bassy implements and the acceptable mid-ranged semi-clean vocals, overwhelmed by the constant riff “assault”. I’ve always tried to imagine how this album would have sounded like with a really emotional high-strung throat behind the mike like Ralf Sheepers (Primal Fear, Gamma Ray) or Michael Knoblich (Scanner); I guess in those not very attached, dispassionate vocals lies some of its charm as well… “Legions of Destruction” has a dramatic melodious beginning where even some leads interfere to enhance the drama, but once the intense speed/thrashing rifforama commences there’s no mercy whatsoever as the essence of the two styles is served with a few more complex breakdowns making things even more interesting. A most compelling headbanging fest so far which is superseded by more progressive arrangements on “The Gambler”, a marginally more laid-back layout which abruptly turns into the next in line speedy fiesta with fiery blitzkrieg guitars and more technical arrangements occupying the middle, with flashy screamy leads interfering as well to make these 7.5-min a most treasured moment from speed/thrash metal history.

“Fighters Return” is another admirable portion of furious fast-paced riffs the cavalcade moving onward remorselessly a few short stomping passages spicing up the vigorous proceedings which receive a more melodic, but equally as intense, decoration on the next “Atomic Roar”, the definitive speed metal opus with the raging guitars, the more melodic sweeps, the more aggressive thrashy insertions, and the heroic attempt at a semi-declamatory chorus; a most eventful carnival closing on nearly 6-min. “Victims of Madness” prefers a slightly more restrained way of execution initially the riff-patterns clinging more towards the mid-pace recalling Warrant’s “The Enforcer”; expect a full-on attack in the second half, and also book your appointment with the dentist for there will be fallen fillings after these explosive dashes. “Marching for Revenge” is obviously aware that it’s the closer, and that there’ll be nothing after it so it embarks on a most exhausting speed/thrashing “journey” on which even the levelled singer tries a few infernal shouts to add more pathos to the hurting brutal riffage which will literally nail you down first before it makes you mosh around with most reckless abandon.

For 40-min of pure unadulterated, perennially headbanging fest one simply can’t get any better than that. Toxik’s “World Circus”, Blind Guardian’s first two, Forbidden’s “Forbidden Evil”, Vio-Lence’s “Eternal Nightmare”, Wargasm’s “Why Play Around”, Paradox’s debut which is clearly influenced by this “madness” here… I exclude the Helloween, Scanner, Exumer and Warrant first showings as they contain way too many mid-paced moments; in other words, not that many opuses can offer such grand scale entertainment when it comes to moshing to oblivion and dropping dead on the ground. Such uncompromising adherence to speed with unflinching unwavering attitude has to be admired since even nowadays it’s not very common to come across such a rigid approach as the contemporary practitioners usually like to spice it up in order to attract wider audience. Well, our friends from Angel Dust had no such interests; they sat down one day just like that and created one of the definitive exercises in sheer speed which could put some hardcore, and even death metal outfits to shame.

Musical proficiency was seeping through the few cracks left by the steam-rolling speed metal machine, a sign that the guys might explore a more serious direction on the next instalments. And indeed, this is exactly what happened on “To Dust You Will Decay” two years later, a very strong coming by all means, but not built on speed anymore, though, the merciless shredding replaced by more intricate, progressive arrangements and more melodic configurations the latter now siding much better with the new vocalist S,L. Coe, a great versatile performer with a unique emotional blend that also graced Scanner’s “Terminal Earth” a year later. Alas, this alteration didn’t lead to securing the band a place on the spotlight, and the Angel Dust fellowship was done. Ten years later the drummer Dirk Assmuth, the only permanent member and survivor from the original line-up, found other like-minded musicians to commence a new chapter from the band’s career. The diehard fans haven’t been very happy with this new start as the style has shifted towards more melodic power metal with very few shades of the old speedy prowess if any at all.

This new delivery found its devoted fans, too, which prompted the guys to carry on with it with four albums released so far by 2002; a more productive period for sure, but hardly superior from a quality point-of-view. Not much has been heard from their camp for the past 15 years… Reportedly the guys are back to a more active mode, and if they decide to start marching for revenge once again, with all the speed they can summon, I can see a lot of poor souls looking back at the past full of nostalgy with this most bleak, dark future lying ahead.

A great start to a great career - 88%

Superreallycool, October 8th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1986, 12" vinyl, Disaster

Angel Dust is another band like Vio-lence, they showed up late to the thrash metal party (although early in comparison to Vio-lence), are all but unknown outside of the thrash metal community, and are loved by those within. But unlike Vio-lence, Angel Dust 1. had a decent enough vocalist 2. evolved as artists 3. had a long career. This makes Angel Dust the better band for me, but at the time of this release the two bands weren't very different.

As a debut album, Angel Dust's "Into the Dark Past" feels surprisingly well thought out. The album's sound isn't that of a reckless band who is trying to emulate Metallica, this is a band with focus and at least some identity. The songs are fairly complex compositionally by pure thrash metal standards and while not exactly their own style yet, are fairly recognizable as Angel Dust songs, assuming you've heard some of their other work. There are hints of the power metal band to come, however this is truly a thrash album, so don't expect to hear THAT much of a resemblance to their later compositions. The songs are mostly 4 minutes long, and considering what kind of songs they are, I wouldn't have it any other way. Many bands experiment with 6-7 minute epics, and while some of those bands find success with that, those are far and few between. The songs also clearly have a "second wave of thrash metal" feel to them. It's hard to explain, but once you start listening to a lot of thrash you'll understand.

The album has an okay, but somewhat dry and boring production. The music is exciting enough to make up for that, but the production doesn't do it any favors. Obviously, audiophiles should more or less avoid this album, and to be honest, should avoid the thrash metal sub-genre all together, as production for albums of this type weren't exactly... good. It's the kind of thing that will be annoying at first, and the more and more you listen to the album and albums like it, the less and less you will really care about it. Production on this kind of album is something that is wanted, not something truly necessary.

For those who've spent sometime with thrash metal, you'll appreciate this album. It's not that what it does is that different, it just is better. This album is somewhat eclipsed by the bands work later on, but this is still a great album that almost all thrashers will love.

Out of the dark past - 87%

Felix 1666, October 6th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1986, 12" vinyl, Disaster

The debut of Angel Dust marked a fantastic entry into the thrash metal scene. It remains a mystery to me why they did not continue in this direction, because they had definitely a knack for stirring thrash compositions. The album released immense amounts of energy, but it was just a flash in the pan in view of their further development. However, this is a genuine gem and a lot of bands would be happy if they had the ownership of the here presented songs.

Angel Dust surprised with multilayered yet straightforward songs. The material was maintained at a constantly high level. Of course, it is always a matter of personal taste, but Angel Dust worked in a technically flawless manner from a purely objective point of view. There´s no question that the group had no need to hide behind its competitors. The precise approach of the band members was admirable. Fully developed compositions - seven songs and an intro in nearly 40 minutes - were by no means just a matter of chance. The highly elaborated riffing and the sense for the adequate number of melody lines built the foundation of the tracks. Even the longest song ("Gambler") left no time for boredom due to its well thought-through construction. At the risk of being attacked for behaving like an old, nostalgic bastard, I would say that everything sounded fresh and lively due to the fact that any kind of today´s riff-recycling had not been invented yet.

Of course, there was still room for improvement. The vocals did not sound very voluminous, but they did also not give any grounds for serious objection. A similar situation applied to the production. But these minor flaws paled beside the excellent level of the songs. With one highlight chasing the next, the band brilliantly performed its style of thrash metal. On the one hand, their almost perfectly flowing songs led to a smoothly running album. On the other hand, the full-length did not lack of power or aggression. The average velocity was high, the sharp riffs at the interface of "Bonded by Blood" and the more aggressive tracks of "Ride the Lightning" were absolutely convincing. "Atomic Roar" was and still is my personal favourite, not at least because of its dramatic drum rolls after the chorus and, of course, the energizing riffs. Its lyrics dealt with the fear of a global nuclear devastation, a typical issue at that time.

The fantasy cover looked rather kitschy, but this did not really bother me. What mattered was the joy of listening to crushers such as "Legions of Destruction" or "Fighter´s Return", which demonstrated impressively the astonishing professional level of each and every band member. And it is amazing to see that this joy has not become less throughout the years because the album shows no signs of wear. It seems to be able to keep its youthfulness endlessly. Conversely, this means that it is never too late to get in touch with this record, one of the most matured debuts of the German thrash metal explosion of the eighties.

A different band, a different time. - 86%

hells_unicorn, March 4th, 2012

There’s not a whole lot of talk about the first incarnation of Angel Dust outside of the most devoted of early German thrash metal adherents, mostly due to the lack of any reissue to introduce said albums to the current generation. In wake of the revival of interest in thrash metal of the mid 80s variety, this could be seen as a bit perplexing, though most younger bands of today take their cues from either the Bay Area scene of the Teutonic Trio, of which this era of the band doesn’t quite fall into either yet has some elements of both in their earliest stages. Thus relegated to the realm of obscurity, “Into The Dark Past” has become one of the most rare gems in the world of original vinyl and audio cassette recordings, though the world of mp3s has made it more readily available to an audience with a thing for hidden treasure hunting.

The common ground that this album shares with other releases is a bit less obvious than their locale would suggest, and boasts a bit more of a direct, mainline early Metallica and Exodus influence, not all that far off from the contemporary Tankard debut “Zombie Attack”. But at the same time, this album doesn’t go into full out party mode, and definitely takes a few hints from the more serious side of the German metal paradigm. It’s character of sound involves an outright avoidance of overt tradition the way Talon and Tyran’ Pace had been exploring up to this point, and actually leans a bit more in a thrashing direction than a straight up speed metal one as some might suggest. Nothing on here gets quite as aggressive and heavy as Slayer’s “Chemical Warfare” or even Metallica’s brief lean towards the extreme in “Fight Fire With Fire”, but particularly when listening to “Atomic Roar” and “Marching For Revenge” is definitely reminiscent of several factors at play on “Show No Mercy” and “Kill Em’ All”.

Granted, at the same time that this album cooks away and reminds of why the mid 80s was an incredible period for the development of faster metal sub-genres, there are some subtle hints at Angel Dust moving towards the place that they ended up in come 1998 when they came back into the picture. Perhaps the most overt example is the slower parts of “The Gambler” which definitely show a more mainline heavy metal character that is indicative of several bands in the Accept school. “Victims Of Madness” is a similar story and features a main riff set that comes off as a faster version of Dio’s “We Rock” and a vocal display out of guitarist Romme Keymer that has a few more high pitched screams that average for the album. What actually keeps this album somewhat in line with the broader German thrash sound is Keymer’s mostly harsher yelling vocal sound which is somewhat reminiscent of Schmier, though also in line with Tom Araya’s sound on the first couple of Slayer releases.

While this album is among the more difficult to track down these days from the mid 80s German scene, it’s well worth the effort and loss of money if there’s a vinyl loving fanatic in your blood. It’s not quite the cream of the 1986 crop and easily bends the knee to the likes of “Pleasure To Kill” and “Eternal Devastation”, which were a bit edgier and overtly trailblazing the style rather than reaffirming and only slight expanding what had been established a year prior by Agent Steel and Iron Angel. But it’s a high quality album from a band that is less known for its thrashing madness than for its more mainline metal friendly progressive power metal style nowadays, but does a solid job of it.

Fast, consistent, repetitive, very effective... - 90%

tylr322, June 15th, 2011

Don't you love it when you find these hidden, minor classic's, this is speed/thrash ecstasy, What's funny is how the album starts out with a short intro which is the title track featuring some slow piano. It then emerges into a monster of a track called "I'll Come Back." This song is pretty straight forward speed metal but the riffs are classy and effective, the only time the intensity let's up is in a short twenty second break during the solo, then straight back into to the speed insanity, great start.

"Legions of Destruction" is next track and is pretty much an instant classic in it's class. Again the song structure uses the same basic speed principles, but the guitars are a touch more melodic and the riffing and soloing is even more stylish here. "Gambler" follows pretty much in the same vain with some slight tempo changes, It does have some great riffs and it's also the longest song coming in at seven and a half minutes, but it's just not quite as effective as the first two though, their ideas seem to shine most on the shorter tracks. The next song is another great track with a nice headbanging chorus: "This is the Fighter's Return!" This song has a more generic feel, but it's still a very effective track and in the end the unrelenting, pounding chorus sticks in your head and wins you over easily.

Each song is a fun listen, a couple of songs shine more than the rest, I have my personal favorites, you might find that yours differ as there is a consistent quality throughout this album and it's only natural that certain songs might stand out and appeal to the individual listener. The vocalist in this album is also a personal favorite compared to their more power metal oriented vocalists later on, his rough and raw style of barking out the lyrics adds to the appeal of this great debut.

The whole album uses the same formula of song writing and successfully avoids monotony, even the next two songs are great, "Victims of Madness" is probably another classic, it seems when the band try a more varied approach in songwriting and combine this with their fast tempos, they come out with something really special. "Marching for Revenge" is another good track, but the same speed and repetitive riffing in this one does take it's toll, there is only so far you can really get with this kind of thing until the repetition starts to effect you in a negative way. Still, everything is far from tedious which is surely a good sign, luckily this was the last track and there is no harm no foul in the end.

Of angelic archers and male harpy volcano riders - 80%

autothrall, January 8th, 2011

Though Angel Dust is perhaps best known for the progressive power leanings of their later years, they once dwelt on the same cusp as bands like Iron Angel and Vectom, performing a hybrid of speed and thrash that was borne more of melody and velocity than the barbarism of the more popular German thrash acts. While I've found myself getting into a few of their more recent albums, such as Bleed from 1999, I think overall I prefer this earlier phase. They had a more uplifting tone to them than Kreator or Sodom, and you could see their power metal transition from a mile away, but there's still enough savagery in position here for the fan of harder edged thrash, and the vocals on this debut were performed by original guitarist Romme Keymer, with a very down to earth, blunt tone that is wildly different than Dirk Thurisch's meaty melodic presence in the 90s and beyond.

"Into the Dark Past" is an eerie piano piece that ascends into a brief, synthesized choir, and then the storming speed metal of "I'll Come Back", Keymer and Andreas Lohrum weaving the riffs through a proto speed/power metal grinder that would thrill fans of old Helloween, Rage, Iron Angel or Scanner. Romme's voice casts a tinny glow over the surge, not unlike Kai Hansen from his Walls of Jericho days, only lacking the same nasally high tone. Great bass and a great lead switch offer a lot to the bridge, and Frank Banx gets another chance to shine as he propels along below the early melodies of "Legions of Destruction", another well written piece with some superb guitars throughout; possibly one of the best Angel Dust tracks through their entire career, with enough aggression that you could compare it to Vendetta, Destruction, and the first few Deathrow records.

"Gambler" drops to a mid pace for its opening volley, but ramps up speed to provide a verse very similar to what Scanner would be dropping a few years later. Rinse and repeat for both "Fighter's Return" and "Atomic Roar", and herein lies one of the few flaws of Into the Dark Past: several of the songs do seem to blend together, without much to distinguish them individually. Add to this the other weakness, the lack of any truly memorable chorus parts, and you come up with an album that's very good, but well below the masterpiece margin. Granted, "Victims of Madness" is one of the better songs here, with Romme adding some shrieks and a slew of blazing guitar work, and "Marching for Revenge" doesn't disappoint either, with a crazed thrust to the verses, but even these fail to muster a chorus sequence that stands to attention.

A pretty strong argument can be made that Into the Dark Past is Angel Dust's best album, but I think I'd have to give the edge to To Dust You Will Decay and Bleed. Neither has such a purist hard-on for the reckless speed of the time period, but both ultimately succeed where this is lacking, in sticking with you longer. Other albums like Border of Reality and Enlighten the Darkness have some choice moments through to their poppy prog devotion, but are both littered with less appealing filler. In fact, if you compare Into the Dark Past to their most recent album from 2002, Of Human Bondage, it's quite difficult to recognize them as the same band outside of the logo. But if you're seeking more along the lines of Rage's Reign of Fear, Iron Angel's Winds of War, Scanner's Hypertrace, or Vendetta's Brain Damage, this is highly likely to please.


Nothing inspirational, but good Metal - 81%

VeryEvilScreenName, March 1st, 2005

Firstly, I'm going to start with laughing at the apropos that while this LP was quietly derived from the mid 80s, Metallica had just released their "Master Of Puppets", which is, to anyone with remote taste in “Heavy” Metal (not seed-to-weak-angst-mall-pop) can easily point out that that particular LP is the most dire, overrated, worthless Thrash LP of the 80s (shame it's taken nearly 20 years for people to quasi realise that). But not this LP I'm about to review.

The LP Starts off with a typical piano intro track, bit of a typical and pointless LP starter, but some of the best LPs ever have worthless intros, so who cares? Not me. Especially when I heard the fade into the next track over the top of a choral effect (which goes well). I always thought you know a good Thrash/Speed LP by that first riff. Well, the first riff is good, but it's the drop onto the drums that is absolutely excellent. And the vocals soon meet perfectly, too. Decent drop mid song, with an interesting solo part. Nothing excellent, but still consistently good. The song lasts a decent 5 minutes, emphasizing non-appreciation for Metal songs that just drone on and bores the hell out of you.
Next track is much the same consistency, another 5 minute song. If it was a Metallica LP of the same year, by now some tosser would be screaming "MAAASTER MAAAAAASTER" and sending you to sleep over the top of mid-paced, overrated Thrash riffs, designed for accessible-CD-grabbing kiddies.

The next song 'Gambler', is fucking great, the intro riff is good, drops well after 0:10 or so, vocals soon to follow. But, the impressive part is the early break on the 0:50 mark and the fast technicality displayed on the riff work, brilliant 30 second teaser of brilliance shown there that isn't really repeated on the LP again. Don't think the solo soon to follow after the 3rd minute does the song justice, but the general tempo isn't bad at all. Not too fond of this song being nearly 8mins long, and the 2nd solo nearer the end is confirmation of that opinion. But the way the song ends is amusing, heh.

The next few songs are pretty much along the same lines, nothing special or mind-blowing, but the emphasis being to competently write consistent good 80s Thrash/Speed, with good tempo. Which they do very well. The song ‘Atomic Roar’ starts off nicely, good song.
Then we get to the last track 'Marching For Revenge', this song is very good. Great sounding riff work. Great tempo throughout.

Overall, I’m not going to negate the review with negativity about this release not being inspirational enough, or not baring enough ‘importance’ on Metal History, simply going to mention that it’s a decent and consistent LP, nothing awe-inspiring just great Metal to bang your head to. While other crap was being hailed as “genius”.

typical German sound - 69%

UltraBoris, June 3rd, 2004

If you've heard one German speed metal LP from the mid/late 1980s, you've heard all. Okay, maybe not all, but most. This definitely falls into the "most" category... no surprises to be found here, it is pretty much the sound derived by bands like Running Wild, Iron Angel, Grave Digger, etc. There is hardly any thrash to be found here, unlike a band like Paradox, but it isn't as overly melodic as a band like Helloween, nor does it have the over-the-top choruses of the first Blind Guardian or second Iron Angel. It's very fast, being almost completely speed metal (as opposed to thrash and power) and the closest comparison is maybe Grinder, or - from the other major land mass - the first Agent Steel.

The album doesn't have any cringe-worthy moments, which separates it from the dregs of the genre (Vectom, Tyran Pace), but is not incredible memorable for the most part, with the vocal delivery a general fast yell, and only an occasional scream. No real absurd choruses to be found here, and the riffage is lots of the single-note stuff with the occasional fast counterpoint. In fact, if I had to pick an album to sum up the "typical" speed metal sound, this very well may be it.

The real highlight is the power-metal-based "Victims of Madness", which has that one awesome simple three-note riff (it's the first one, and comes back a lot) that's very similar to Toxik's "Count Your Blessings", and more variation in melody than the other songs on here. "Atomic Roar" is probably the fastest song on here, and also has the coolest solo. The rest is a lot of very similar-sounding matter that could be one very long song for all I can tell. Oh yes, the little bass intro to "Legions of Destruction" is total "Killers" (Maiden, of course), but only for like three seconds.

It's not bad, but there really isn't much to differentiate it from the pack. One really brilliant song, a kinda cute intro, good production, and a whole fucking shitload of single-note hyperspeed riffage. If you're a German speed metal freak, go for it.