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Artillery - Legions

by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein / Michael "MettleAngel" Francisco at 14 November 2013, 4:04 PM


It is said that history can repeat itself. Honestly I believe in that notion, especially in the music business where an artist can head back to his origins, the small space where he started to craft his first tunes, his old major musical trend. It has nothing to do with modesty or refuge, just a comeback to the spot where everything was perceived with unavoidable admiration. However, sometimes when there is that awful craving to search for new ways to perfect one’s music or go beyond the common ground, things get muddy and usually causing the artist to stir so far from his path that his creation no longer matters. In my opinion it happened to METALLICA after 1989, then to SEPULTURA after 1994 and to BON JOVI after 1994, whether becoming the audience’s whore or plainly taking on a new form that turned out sour. The case of the longtime Danish Thrash Metal band ARTILLERY did reveal shifts and twists along their career, crossing from a mere technical Thrash Metal group to a renowned diverse being between Heavy and Thrash outputs. Though not being that welcomed, as nothing of their new material can’t upscale “Fear Of Tomorrow”, “Terror Squad” or the colossus pounder “By Inheritance”, at least in comparison to the artists I mentioned, their alternations didn’t torn them asunder.

In my bill, ARTILLERY, following their comeback in 2007, were able to produce more than decent offerings of considerable quality. Gradually the band began to stray their stimulating depicted Thrash input into broadly merging classic Heavy Metal insertions that before. On the other hand, have no fear as ARTILLERY’s past is still their main emblem to trail. “When Death Comes” and “My Blood” appeared to me as impressive foundations, securing the band’s legacy, even if not in its complete form. With the introduction of “Legions”, via the band’s new album Metal Blade Records, following the inauguration of a new vocalist (Michael Bastholm Dahl) and drummer (Josua Madsen), the former being a prospect from the local Danish Heavy Metal band RIPE, I believe that ARTILLERY made another step towards their early 90’s phenomenon.

On “Legions” the classy duo of experienced Thrashers, the Stutzer brothers, still behind the songwriting, substantiated that even with age ARTILLERY’s music is stronger and fiercer than ever, igniting the fires of the late 80’s while countersigning the modernized sound of the present at their side that might have just partially delivered their old might, but satisfied. The album’s riffery is as always creative and exceptional, sometimes a reprise of the early days of the band, yet that is what I have been looking for, the older signatures, past aggression initialized at will. However, the Stutzer duo also knew how to compose songs of utter passion and with a measure of severity and chastity. Take for example the album’s foremost track “Enslaved To The Nether”, which I crown as ARTILLERY’s freshened “Don’t Believe”. This song is a masterpiece, a Heavy Metal with bits of Thrash kind of track, enhanced with a spectacular vibe glazed by acoustic guitaring, a conventional build up through distorted lands of simplified riffery that later incubated into definitive heavy weight crusher. You can’t go wrong with this kind of soon to be classic. Nevertheless, listening to the title track, “Legions”, reserved my admiration for the enchanting Arabian style scales that the band has been using for quite some time. Basically, this one is a slider between Heavy and Thrash Metal, harbors addictive riffery and a crude rhythm section. Bastholm Dahl, with this number, but not just by it, proved himself to be a worthy replacement to Soren Adamsen, portraying a zealous voice with an impressive range. The closer of this chapter, ”Ethos of Wrath”, inflames with a Thrash consumed tug of war, well developed track leading from slicing riffery to a decisive simple chorus displaying a heck of vocal presentation. Following a destructive solos, and remarkable harmonies, how can one deny this one from glory?  Enough instances for you guys to take on this release, feast on its flesh and devour its music enough to worship these guys’ efforts. ARTILLERY are back in the saddle with a lineup that I hope that will hold.


By merit and stance the Danes of darkness have returned with more dirty deeds, hoping to reignite the furious trauma by firmly planting one foot in the grave, and one in the trash. Once again they have changed vocalists, and drummers, and are now signed to Metal Blade. My blood pumps when I harp back to the songs of terror this riot squad once penned and presented. Honestly, I was quite impressed with this last two comeback releases, as well, which recaptured the hunger and greed for the past. Unfortunately, this album is rife with recycled riffs, and unimaginative suggestions, which would serve better as bombfood.

I really valued the warrior blood cry of Søren Nico Adamsen, and I will always relish the flair of Flemming Rønsdorf and caustic cadence of Carsten Lohmann, but Bastholm Dahl's shrill vocal flat line, really does little for me. He is striving too hard to imitate the past front men, all who contributed their own style making each ARTILLERY album they respectively played on, quite unique. Hell, he cannot even pronounce the Latin “Dies Irae” properly.

The opener “Chill My Bones” begins a bit like “7:00 From Tashkent / “Khomaniac” but does not have the speed or intensity of the awesome initiation to “By Inheritance”. Obviously the Stützer Brothers continue to create some cool riffs, like the title track, “Ethos Of Wrath” and “God Feather” suggest; however, with careful scrutiny they have been stung by the W.A.S.P., as if examined more closely, I can easily identify note for note riffs lifted from their first four releases. The modern guitar tone added to this original style only serves to grate on my nerves more. “Doctor Evil” is the most accessible track, and one of the better ones, but again the challenge is yours to notice which songs this most emulates. Although, this mighty cut does have a very familiar feel to it, I wonder if it may perhaps be a cover?

Time has come for the delusions of grandeur to dissipate and for the band to decide to rise from beneath the claymation stagnation. I suppose it is too late to regret, but these mindless manufactured melodies show very little inspiration, as if sifted from the sandbox, or dug out of the trash, and definitely recycled. I know they have the potential to write some really good songs, like they did on the much maligned “B.A.C.K.” album, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I also will promote “When Death Comes” which has some amazing cuts like “Sandbox Philosophy”, “Upon My Cross I Call”, and “Damned Religion”.

Lucklessly, “Legions” often deviates from that uniform formula for which the band are most well-known. “Wardrum Heartbeat” begins with great momentum, and a mild catchy chorus, but does not ensnare. Don't believe me, hear it for yourself, is this meant to be some type of anthem where the band just ain't giving' in? “Enslaved To The Nether”, neither has me enslaved nor enthralled in the essence of this power ballad. Damn, if I do not hear a riff from “Through The Never”. I remember when METALLICA were once influenced by the deadly relics of early ARTILLERY.

I feel like I am in bondage, and need to break out of my bland box of issues philosophy. I should be more objective, but I am left wondering where is the originality? The epic “Global Flatline” has some decent noodling, and it attempts to Thrash or crush, but I dare you to guess what out of the blue, sly hook is repeatedly used, but masked by keyboards and other effects.

Royal Danes, noble kings, thy SLAYER rip-off riffs are not appreciated, either. I realize that ONSLAUGHT also did this with their comeback efforts. I just do not know why you feel the need to become updated. I wonder who produced this? PROTECTOR and NOT FRAGILE did not follow this path for their latest efforts. Those near breakdowns, and modern chugging found on “Dies Irae” or “Anno Requiem” just annoy me all the more.

Whoah Man! Are we at war with variance? I guess it is time for the recapitulation of these deviants. Is this the end when death comes for the trademark ARTILLERY sound? Will they ever reunite with one of the classic line-ups? Here is hoping they crawl out of their shell, seek therapy and will next time create the classic shock all, for you and I!

3 Star Rating

1. Chill My Bones
2. God Feather
3. Legions
4. Wardrum Heartbeat
5. Global Flatline
6. Dies Irae
7. Anno Requiem
8. Enslaved To The Nether
9. Doctor Evil
10. Ethos of Wrath
Michael Stutzer – Guitars
Morten Stutzer - Guitars
Peter Thorslund - Bass
Josua Madsen - Drums
Michael Bastholm Dahl - Vocals
Record Label: Metal Blade Records


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