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Review: Angel Dust - Bleed
Angel Dust

Label: Century Media Records
Year released: 1999
Duration: 48:15
Tracks: 12
Genre: Progressive Power Metal

Rating: 5/5

Review online: January 6, 2004
Reviewed by: 4th Horseman
Readers Rating

Rated 4.39/5 (87.88%) (33 Votes)

Angel Dust debuted as a thrash act back in 1986 with "Into The Dark Past" and followed up with "To Dust You Will Decay" in 1988; but before they actually made a real name for themselves, the band unfortunately broke up. However, Angel Dust were indeed destined for recognition. After a decade since their second release, the band finally broke their silence with "Border of Reality". While they marked their arrival back on the metal scene with that release, it was "Bleed" that established the fact that Angel Dust are a force to be reckoned with. "Bleed" was the fourth album by this quintet from Germany and it can safely be stated that here is where Angel Dust broke through…no, charged through the bottle neck of the European power metal scene. Before you formulate opinions regarding the genre, hear these guys out!

While the power metal scene was busy with the same old stereotypical 'we are soldiers of metal' lyrics and just abusing the keyboards and double bass, "Bleed" comes forth and lets the world know that a combination of Thrash and Prog-Power can be ever so sweet that it defies logic. The thrashy guitars are dominant throughout the album which gives it more crunch than bands like Stratovarius can ever deliver and at the same time, the keyboard work is equally delicate and beautiful. To top it off, the vocal energy and the flawless rhythm execution cannot go unnoticed. The drums are pounding and in your face; cheers go out to Dirk Assmuth for his drum work….power metal acts everywhere, if you want to play real metal that will get the audience involuntarily head-banging, screw the double bass, this is how it is done! Jorg Michael, formerly of Stratovarius, can indeed put even most black metallers to shame with his speedy drum work, but at the end of it all, you still don't get the head banger intensity you would here. Assmuth's work on "Bleed" is indeed worthy of praise, but his effort got even more intense and better on the band's 2002 release "Of Human Bondage". Only in the drumming section would I argue that "Of Human Bondage" surpassed the quality of "Bleed".

The title track is reason enough for one to pick up this CD. Hardly ever in metal will you find such magical keyboard and guitar romance. Just when you think the piano intro could not possibly get any more elegant and melodic, the unforgiving axes kick in with a riff that won't quit. "Surrender?" is another track here that stands out from the rest which is more on the progressive side. Songs like this are exactly why one should not skip on to the next track after hearing the first chorus, as most of the songs here generally peak towards the end when Dirk Thurisch fully unleashes his voice with his hypnotic screams. Now here is what you call a screamer! His voice is heavy, but yet manages to hit the high notes very well, but at the same time, does not overdo it to the point of annoyance. However, the heavy voice is also accompanied by a not so heavy German accent which is noticeable at a few points here and there. "Bleed", "Surrender?", "Black Rain" and "Addicted To Serenity" are probably the catchiest tracks on the disc that will continue to echo in your head long after you have stopped playing the disc; very melodic and catchy indeed, yet heavy as hell.

The only negative aspect of this album would be diversity, not in terms of style of music, but in terms of the mood it generates. The entire atmosphere is dark, melancholy, sad and nostalgic, which may not necessarily be a bad thing if that is what one is looking for, however, I would prefer a little diversity in the atmosphere and the feeling the album creates. I would never be as harsh on a band as to critique such a non issue, but because I compare "Bleed" amongst the greatest power metal albums ever released, I think I should go through a more rigid critical process, as there is room here for improvement, however diminutive it may be. This is one of the reasons why I would argue that "Enlighten The Darkness" (2000) is superior to "Bleed" as it incorporates several emotions and moods despite being a concept album entirely on the horrors of war. While the song writing is indeed worthy of praise, lyrically "Bleed" is not comparable to "Enlighten The Darkness"; but then again, very few albums are.

Better than "Enlighten The Darkness" or not, "Bleed" will entertain any who claim to be lovers of intense melodic metal. A definite must.

Other related information on the site
Review: Border Of Reality (reviewed by 4th Horseman)
Review: Border Of Reality (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
Review: Enlighten The Darkness (reviewed by 4th Horseman)
Review: Into The Dark Past (reviewed by 4th Horseman)
Review: Into The Dark Past (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Marching for Revenge (Demo) (reviewed by 4th Horseman)
Review: Of Human Bondage (reviewed by Christian Renner)
Review: Of Human Bondage (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
Interview with Dirk Assmuth (Drums) on July 31, 2004 (Interviewed by 4th Horseman)
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