Artillery is a Danish band that has been around a looooong time, with a few stops and starts, break-ups and reformations. This was due largely to poor support from various labels and other mitigating factors, such as an ever-changing line-up. Be that as it may, I am the proud owner of several albums, including this new one Legions, which comes out on November 26 via Metal Blade Records. I am happy about this, not only because I am thoroughly enjoying the record, but also because they signed with Metal Blade, a label I know will take good care of them. Anyway, onto the music!
Legions marks the first album with new vocalist Michael Bastholm Dahl who is hands-down the best singer that Artillery have ever had. I don’t care what you say; argue with me all you like, but this man can fucking SING! In a time full of cookie monsters and screamo idiots, Dahl provides a classic metal elegance that has been missing for a long time. Combine that with the twin guitars of Michael and Morten Stützer, and the take-no-prisoners rhythm section of Josua Madsen and Peter Thorslund on drums and bass respectively, and you’ve got a recipe for greatness.
The album starts off with a gypsy-flavored intro for “Chill My Bones (Burn My Flesh)” before the thrashing guitars come in and Dahl’s powerful voice makes its presence known. That’s right, Artillery combine the best elements of thrash and NWOBHM, but they do it with clean, melodic vocals, which totally adds another dimension to the songs. “God Feather” goes running straight into a mash-up of early Testament and Anthrax territory and is instantly memorable. This is also one of the heavier tracks as well, and features my favorite guitar solo. Title track “Legions” is another killer with riffs upon riffs over some powerhouse drumming, but again, it’s Dahl’s voice that leaves the biggest impression.
I knew I was gonna love “Wardrum Heartbeat” about ten seconds in; I think you will too. It’s fast and powerful, and kicks ass on so many levels. I also was instantly sucked in by “Global Flatline” but for entirely different reasons. This one starts out slowly, with clean but ominous guitars reminiscent of some of the bands of yesteryear, and before long comes the inevitable build-up to something very dark and malevolent. “Dies Irae” (don’t ask me what it means, hell if I know!) and “Anno Requiem” are more straight-ahead metal with the whole band really going to town, the guitars and drums in particular. I swear, you can just SENSE something different about the band this time out. It’s in the attitude, the songs, everything.
“Enslaved to the Nether” is another slow starter, but don’t be fooled by that for one minute. This was very quickly another REPEAT button track. It has a decidedly European metal feel to it, but the good kind, not that generic dreck that seems to be everywhere these days. I don’t even know how to describe “Doctor Evil” other than it being my runaway favorite on this album. Everything about it, from the guitar and vocals, to the hooks just sounds like it was tailor-made for me. Crazy, I know, but I am just so into this song it’s not even funny! A hearty layered vocal harmony is at the beginning of closing number “Ethos of Wrath”, yet another home run on this magnificent record. There is so much metal thrashing madness on this album that it has been on repeat for two days straight. Check it out, you’ll see why!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM