The Phantom Tollbooth

Angeldust - Musical Conjurings from the World of Illusion
Artist: Angeldust
Label: Angel Productions
Time: 14 Tracks/ 44:35min.

"Wake up and live! BURN!" Angeldust screams an urgent call to experience life in all textures: the physical, spiritual, sexual and emotional. Klay Scott has retired his original industrial music project Circle of Dust to work full time with the master of punk stage illusion and street magic, Criss Angel. The first release from Angeldust is musically mature and stunningly well developed. The songs show a variety of style that exceeds Circle of Dustís repertoire: delving into angry anthems of rebellion that would leave Nine Inch Nailís Trent Reznor crying in a corner and bared moments of delicate grief ("I know Iíd die for youÖGod, tell me why my friend is gone?").

The music and lyrics are complete songs. The emerging collage of all the songs taken together portray an aggressive climb toward resolution of human injustice through personal catharsis ("Change me! Why canít I ever be what I want to be?"), developed from ideas infinitely more mature than those of which, say, Stabbing Westward is even capable. The rhythms slam, the guitars snarl with defiant arrogance, the sharkskin-rough voice of Scott rumbles beneath the incisor-sharp Criss Angel (whose only detraction may be his occasional indulgence in hair-band vocal drama overdrive). Not consistently industrial, some songs resemble the current work of U2, Diatribe, or Love and Rockets.

Fans of Christian music may be interested in Angeldust because of its relationship to Circle of Dust, through which we watched the real-time process of Scott moving from faith to doubt to rage, although his vocals are secondary in Angeldust. Listeners should be cautioned that the lyrics can become rather rough at times. The ideas ("Hate me with everything youíve got!") and vocabulary (repeated f-word) may upset some.

Angeldust represents a brilliant palette of styles, but laced with uncomfortable lyrics at times. As a musician, Klay Scott is uncommonly better with every project. This album deserves its high rating, but with the reasonable warning that some themes are spiritually unedifying.

By Matt Atkinson (12/6/98)