Review Summary: Artillery are back, and they're better than everArtillery:
Søren Nico Adamsen – Vocals
Michael Stützer – Guitars
Morten Stützer – Guitars
Peter Thorslund – Bass
Carsten Nielsen – Drums
Formed in 1982, Artillery were one of the
Artillery, hailing from Denmark, were always one of those bands that would never quite break mainstream success. Formed in 1982, they released a string of critically acclaimed albums in thrash's heyday, but broke up after release of their fourth album, By Inheritance, in 1990. While the aforementioned album’s lineup reformed at the end of that decade, it was a fairly fruitless affair; spawning only the B.A.C.K album and a supporting tour after which the band promptly went their similar ways. Thankfully, their 2007 reunion came rubber stamped with a message to the world.
Artillery are back.
For want of a better phrase, When Death Comes
is an exercise in controlled aggression. The band’s trademark sound combines intelligent, technical guitar work with the furious mentality that has always been an integral part of the genre; staying true to their 80’s heritage while sounding surprisingly fresh and modern. The Stutzer brother’s technical approach to thrash is what sets them apart from the rest of the field, despite not having made an Artillery album for the past decade. Their style is considered and engaging, yet forceful, but it is always delivered in a highly proficient manner. It is also highly consistent: between the title track opener’s harmonised intro to the frantic rumble of the aptly titled closer, The End
there are hundreds of crushing, yet strangely melodic thrash riffs, accompanied by a myriad of complex leads and solos. The guitar work manages to stay interesting throughout the whole of the disc, making each song is very distinct from every other. This is most notable in Delusions of Grandeur
, which contains a slower, acoustic passage and Uniform
’s considerably Middle Eastern bass intro, doubling up as an impressive nod to the theme of the By Inheritance album. Nevertheless for the remainder of the album the bass guitar is generally buried in the mix, which is a shame when the quality of the aforementioned bass intro, and that of the riffing, is taken into consideration.
While the bass may not be as audible as it arguably should be, Nielsen’s performance behind the kit shows off a solid rhythm section. His drumming is perfectly complementary to the guitar work, never trying to overpower it with speed or technicality. Perhaps disappointingly, he is fairly restrained in his playing, for example the intro fill to Sandbox Philosophy
, but on a closer listen he is equally as proficient as the other members of the band, keeping differing time signatures and wildly differing speeds as well as a mastery of the kick drum, which accentuates the guitarwork well. Similarly, the vocals of new member Søren Nico Adamsen add a third dimension to the music, containing thrash fury, considerable ablilty and hooks aplenty.
This is a great achievement, considering the skill and reputation of Flemming Rönsdorf, Artillery’s original singer. Nevertheless, he fills his shoes well, and does not differ much sonically from Rönsdorf’s approach, best described as a mating of Bruce Dickenson’s classic “air raid siren” and Dave Mustaine’s snarling delivery. His vocals contain some of the album’s catchiest hooks, such in Rise Above It All
, and Not A Nightmare
, and they are delivered with considerable power and precision.
Overall, this is an incredible return to form for a band that have been hidden in the underground for the best part of twenty years. There is no major fault with any part of the album musically, and it’s sound is fairly original given the age of both the band, the genre and their hiatuses. The production is crystal clear, rectifying one of the major issues with By Inheritance. This album will surely gander Artillery the success and respect they deserve from followers of thrash, through sheer quality of musicianship and ingenuity rather than through compromise and, hopefully, there will not be another decade wait for the follow up.
Rise Above It All
When Death Comes