Thursday, 28 November 2013

Artillery - Legions (Album Review)

Album Type :  Full Length
Date Released : 26/11/2013
Label : Metal Blade Records

Legions, album track listing :

1). Chill My Bones (Burn My Flesh) 06:06
2). God Feather 05:13
3). Legions 04:38
4). Wardrum Heartbeat 05:53
5). Global Flatline 06:57
6). Dies Irae 04:54
7). Anno Requiem 04:14
8). Enslaved to the Nether 05:28
9). Doctor Evil 05:53
10). Ethos of Wrath 06:06

Bio :

Artillery was formed in Copenhagen in 1982, and released their debut album "Fear of Tomorrow" in 1985 and the follow-up, "Terror Squad," in 1987. Afterwards, the band saw a turbulent time with line-up changes, but by 1990 the band released the much acclaimed "By Inheritance" record. Artillery released their final effort with singer Flemming Rønsdorf in 1999 called "B.A.C.K."

Fast forward to 2007: the band reformed with singer Søren Adamsen and released "When Death Comes "in 2009 and was followed by "My Blood" in 2011. The year 2012 saw a change in line-up, when founding member and drummer Carsten Nielsen decided to leave, shortly followed by singer Søren Adamsen.

Two new member where recruited in late 2012 with Josua Madsen being the new drummer and Michael Bastholm Dahl the new singer. The band headed off to Miami to perform at the Barge to Hell metal cruise. Work on new material was already underway and after a successful European tour in May 2013, the band entered Medley Studios with acclaimed producer Søren Andersen at the mixing board.

With the new album recorded in June 2013, the band stands strong and ready to unleash their metal upon the world. A US tour is booked, as well as a South American tour, so the future looks bright and big plans have been made. Artillery is coming your way and ready to embark on a new chapter

The Band  :

Michael Bastholm Dahl |Vocals
Michael Stützer | Guitars
Morten Stützer | Guitars
Peter Thorslund | Bass
Josua Madsen | Drums

Review :

Danish thrashers Artillery have been around as long as I can remember (on and off, that is) and even worked with Flemming Rasmussen back in the day, but I could not have claimed to be particularly familiar with their work. Until hearing this album, that is...

Chill My Bones (Burn My Flesh) opens with a rather Eastern sounding intro that soon gives way to old school thrash with soaring vocals. The production is spot on (the bass drums really sound like bass drums) and the whole effect is one of proper thrash- you know, like Overkill or Testament; the good stuff.

God Feather summons similar melody and fury. The vocals are stellar- clear and distinct, proper old school metal- and they lift the release even higher than the other quality musical elements would indicate. Michael Bastholm Dahl does a sterling job. The Stutzer brothers deliver fast paced riffing and work together very well indeed, following in the tradition of great metal brother pairings (Young, Hoffman, Bjorler, Coyle and so on). The title track, Legions, is a true riff-fest and features plenty of mid paced stomp to go with some very nimble higher speed passages.

Wardrum Heartbeat delivers more of the same- high quality thrash that is hard as nails with a distinctive old school/NWOBHM aspect brought about by the vocals. Good passages of solos segue into great passages of riffs and so on. The ingredients that make this type of metal successful are easy to pinpoint but hard to actually come up with: great riffs and a high standard of musicianship.

With Global Flatline comes the half way mark of this excellent release. An atmospheric intro slows the pace down and allows the listener a little respite. The production utilises clean guitar (electro acoustic?) to good effect and Dahl goes for some real histrionics on this most old school of old school tracks. Things, naturally, pick up after a few minutes and the band run riot over the remainder of the playing time. Guitars shred, drums thrash and all is returned to very real thrash tempo. A very Maiden section is thrown in for good measure and the band gallops for the finish line. Heavy metal heaven is right here. 

Dies Irae has a military feel to the drum intro that gives way to a groove allowing the band to use dynamics and up the tempo when needed. Anno Requiem has an excellent intro and a very strong main riff. Josua Madsen excels himself behind the kit on this one- his performance on the whole album is very strong and he brings a resolutely real and energetic feel to proceedings. The bass of Peter Thorslund anchors the sound well, allowing for Madsen's more flashy moments by holding the rhythm down expertly.

Enslaved to the Nether has a clean intro with wailing lead overlaid and again drops the tempo for a ballad type feel- once more, not something that you encounter too much on thrash albums these days. It offers variety to the release and also makes it feel authentic; Artillery are one of the oldest European (Scandinavian!) thrash bands and thus do not need to pander to what critics think should be on a thrash album as they have earned their place at the table.

Doctor Evil gets the album back to thrashing ways with a half stepping riff giving way to a nifty melodic riff that brings classic Maiden to mind (the vocals hit a very Bruce-esque register). The tempos are played around with and keep things interesting as the melody nestles against much harder thrash sections. Ethos of Wrath then closes the album very strongly with over six minutes of the highest quality thrash metal.

Overall, this is a very strong record and another fine offering from both the band and Metal Blade. If you like your thrash metal with traditional vocals and a very old school ethos then this is the album for you. Armed and dangerous!

Words by : Richard Maw

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