Review by Mark Montgomery for MPM
This is the tenth studio offering from Artillery, hence the name of the album X.
Being a metal band from Denmark could lead very easily to stereotypical Northern European folk infused middle of the road nonsense, with music videos in the woods and snow and lyrics about big hammers etc. But no, this is Danish Thrash Metal.
It would be too simple to throw Artillery into the bag of bands that would initially sound like their influences. Consider this, Artillery have been around long enough to be the influencer.
They were part of the innovation that created Thrash and Speed Thrash. So before you hear parts that are akin to Pantera, Maiden, and even Metallica, remember Artillery have been there all along.
For a band that has been doing this for almost 40 years, to be able to sound this strong and fresh, yet familiar, is no mean feat. The evolution of their sound is not immediately apparent with the opening track The Devil’s Symphony. Playing to the gallery for an opener is a smart move, and not to be sniffed at, especially when you are showcasing a new lineup, you need the fans on board for the rest of the show.
The second track In Thrash We Trust has been very cleverly placed here. In modern times when most music is downloaded one track at a time, album track listing has almost become a lost art. This is a track that very much says “Trust us, we got this covered”.
This track brings the band right up to date sonically and shows that Artillery are not ones to stick to their guns with the guitar sound…… (see what I did there?).
Stand out track for me is In your Mind, a strong contender for the fan favourite on this album, a solid track with some tricks up its sleeve and some surprising flourishes.
Each track on this album delivers at least one great riff, some offer a handful. Writing riffs is not easy, they need to be crisp, clear and memorable. It seems that Artillery have tapped into a formula to create riffs that will stop you in your tracks to bite your lip and nod your head approvingly.
The loss of founding member Morten Stützer is apparent, as he held a key role in songwriting and arrangement, however, new member Kræn Meier (guitar) is able to fill the void working extremely well with Michael Stützer and bringing some excellent musicianship to the fore.
Tracks like The Force of Indifference and Eternal Nights showcase Peter Thorsland (bass) and Joshua Madsen (drums) as a rhythm section to be admired across the globe. Other musicians should be taking notes.
The production on the rhythm section is also meritable. The kick drum punches enough to compliment the attack of the bass guitar, whilst all going hand-in-hand with the furious twin guitar setup.
Ghost of Me had me a little worried, as it starts like it could be the weak link on the album, like it could fall into 80’s ballad territory. But it’s ok, it redeems itself quickly with more riffage to snap you out of that thought. Although at 4 minutes long, it somehow doesn’t feel long
enough, and I was oddly going back on my initial thought, almost wanting it to be their November Rain moment.
The vocal performance of Michael Bastohlm is his best yet. Bastholm is an extremely versatile vocalist. We are all well aware of this. He also knows exactly where he needs to be in the arrangement and there is no grandstanding here.
Being a great vocalist is not just about how good you can sing, but also about how well you can fit in the band of musicians who are also at the top of their game. Hats off to Bastholme, he has earned his place here, and is now a well established member of Artillery.
Artillery have gone through a few line ups over the years. Is this the strongest lineup yet? I would say so.
Have the band found the lineup that will keep this animal going? I hope so.
There is ingenuity in the production, there is outside the box songwriting.
This is not old Thrash Metal, this is Danish Melodic Thrash Metal at its absolute best.
Buy here: http://www.metalblade.com/artillery