Artillery – X

X Album Cover Art

Artillery – X
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 07/05/2021
Running Time: 45:48
Review by Simon Black
9/10

This album was a delightfully pleasant surprise. When a band has been at it for forty years and its members cracking on a bit, you expect the engine to not be running at the kind of ferocity that it did when they were younger, back when wearing studded leather straps in public was a bit rebellious and dodgy moustaches were the thing. Well, that dodgy look may be long gone, but Artillery have managed to turn out what feels like one of their finest hour’s with this, their tenth record (although I still think the anthemic ‘In Thrash We Trust’ from the second track on the disk would have been a better title).

Back in the day, Artillery were one of those bands that hadn’t quite registered on the radar much here in the UK when Thrash was exploding world-wide. Although I had come across their rather explosive debut “Fear Of Tomorrow”, they didn’t tour enough to push themselves into the consciousness of us Brits in the way other European stalwarts of the scene did and so unless you had seen them on the bill at a festival over there, you were probably blissfully unaware of them. Taking most of the 1990’s and 2000’s off probably did not help with maintaining a profile here though. The band have also endured some recent tragedy with the passing of founding guitarist Morten Stützer, suddenly, in 2019. You would have forgiven his surviving brother Michael for wanting to hang up his axe at this point, given that the brothers were the song-writing engine at the heart of the band, but having on boarded long-time friend Kræn Meier the band have taken that emotion and forged what is head and shoulders the strongest album since their debut in 1985.

This does not sound like a band who have been around for such a long time. It sounds as fresh, focussed and energetic as that crucial first record, with the added benefit of experience and the kind of crisp and modern production values which although more affordable and technically achievable in this day and age, still many bands struggle to find. They’ve been working with Producer Søren Andersen for a while, but this time he really seems to have nailed their sound with a rich and well produced piece of work. Thrash and high production values did not always go together historically, so this is important. In days gone by the best thrash albums were often the ones with the weaker production, given that the speed and urgency borne from necessity of limited budget and studio time often leant the recordings an energy that became conspicuous by its absence when bands got better established and hard more time to polish their chops. Andersen crucially has managed to capture both the immediacy without sacrificing the quality here.

But then when you have song-writing of this calibre to work with, half the work is already done. The eleven songs on here positively fly by in a blur of technically proficient and blisteringly accurate speed. Artillery’s sound is subtly different from many Thrash acts, as Michael Bastholm Dahl’s clean vocal style stands out from the usual guttural delivery of the sub-genre. Personally his wailing tone adds an emotional timbre so often missing from Thrash, and allows the meaning of the words to emerge clearly. This counterpoints superbly with the aggressive and frenetic delivery of the instruments and I am left with an album that I am not done with yet. The band also vary the tone in unexpected ways – ‘The Ghost Of Me’ is the kind of ballad that you would not expect to find in the genre, but it works and really shows just what Dahl’s voice can achieve. Equally the more Traditional Metal sound of ‘Eternal Night’ brings a refreshing change from the all-out speed and illustrates a band with song-writing maturity and confidence that experience naturally brings, but who have not lost their mojo. A resounding hit for me.

‘In Your Mind’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. The Devil’s Symphony
02. In Thrash We Trust
03. Turn Up The Rage
04. Silver Cross
05. In Your Mind
06. The Ghost Of Me
07. Force Of Indifference
08. Varg I Veum
09. Mors Ontologica
10. Eternal Night
11. Beggars In Black Suits

LINE-UP:
Michael Bastholm Dahl – Vocals
Michael Stützer – Guitars
Kræn Meier – Guitars
Peter Thorslund – Bass
Josua Madsen – Drums

LINKS:

Artillery Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

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