Arcania
Sweet Angel Dust

Sweet Angel Dust is the first full length in twelve years of existence from French band Arcania. While I have no idea why it took them over a decade to produce a single full length, I do know it’s pretty damn good.

Arcania play a mostly modern style of thrash, infused with bits of melody and a slight touch of progressive tendencies, which ultimately reminds me a great deal of their fantastic countrymen Lyzanxia. The songwriting and all around musicianship is top notch, especially the guitar work, and vocalist Cyril Peglion occasionally reminds of Testament‘s Chuck Billy in tone (which is never a bad thing), but delivers it in a more melodic form most of the time – he occasionally employs some growls too, which add a bit more to the versatility.

They’re fond of the longer songs, most of which are in the five to seven minute range, and album closer “My Funeral” tops the 10 minute mark. Some bands can’t pull off the long song thing, endlessly repeating riffs and parts for no apparent reason, but Arcania do it well – each song has it’s own unique twists and turns – never boring and always engaging.

Take the album opening seven minute title track for example – it begins with the sounds of some sort of wind-up musical device; the drums slowly build underneath, then lead into the opening riff which also builds and builds until the song proper kicks in; at the halfway mark, the song breaks down into an acoustic passage, then builds back into a speedier portion and eventually lands back where it began. “Momento” is structured similarly, featuring a simple yet insanely memorable chorus and absolutely fantastic soloing throughout it’s eight minutes.

There’s a good deal of versatility here – “No End” is considerably more aggressive, incorporating blast beats into the chorus and reminds somewhat of Testament through the verses. “Leave My Mind” starts on the slow side, but continually builds to a climatic ending. The band also excels at flowing, stop on a dime tempo changes, as they’re littered all through the album, but are best evidenced on “Against My Fear”. “As We Fall” takes a much simpler and straight forward approach, while “This Man Failed” feels like a bit more complex Countdown/Youthansia era Megadeth, displays some fantastic soloing and adds some clean singing to give it even more depth.

Closer “My Funeral” is truly epic in every sense – this song has a bit of everything, but is very cohesive. Bouncing from slow and sedated sounding into jagged, angular riffs and speed-driven sections, it keeps you guessing whats around the next corner throughout it’s ten plus minute run time – a perfect ending to a surprisingly good album.

I don’t really have anything bad to say about Sweet Angel Dust, though I feel this bands best work is ahead of them. Had I delved into this album last year more, it would have made my top 25.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Larry "Staylow" Owens
March 11th, 2011

Comments

  1. Commented by: faust666

    Great review Larry, heard this album online last year and loved it.


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