Artillery – “X” (Metal Blade Records)
Battle Helm Rating
“.. if anyone had told me forty years ago that I would have made ten albums and played in over sixty different countries I wouldn’t have believed it…” so speaketh the always humble Michael Stützer, guitarist of Artillery. Formed in 1982 after visiting Mercyful Fate in their rehearsal room and inspired by Tank’s song ‘Heavy Artillery’, these Danish thrashers have been around the blocks – and then some – despite a couple of lengthy hiatuses and the passing of fellow guitarist and brother of Michael, Morten Stützer. Devoid of any image, let alone a desire for commercial gain, the band have soldiered on for the love of thrash, steadily building their respect through their music much to the regard of many a fan around the world. Y’see, Artillery are one of us, and being that, they know exactly what every headbanger wants: monster chundering riffs with ultra-catchy hooks that could land a whale while unafraid to show their speed and aggression through technicality topped off with a melodic touch. Very tasty indeed! Leaving little to the imagination on this tenth titled release, the 11 songs follow on unpretentiously from their previous releases, although the sound is immense, and in many cases reminiscent of 1990’s “By Inheritance”, which is probably my favourite Artillery album, so I’m definitely happy with this record ha ha! Unleashing all on ‘In Thrash We Trust’, heavy power riffs immediately jump into your face, chopping away amid the spiralling exotic fretboard brilliance of Michael Stützer and new guitarist Kræn Meier (Hell’s Domain, Nominon, Sacrificial, The Petulant, ex-Strangler, ex-Evil, ex-Pitch Black, ex-Thorium, ex-Atomkraft (live), ex-Iniquity, ex-Mugshot, ex-Metallica Jam, ex-Thrash of the Titans) on a tight as f–k performance as long-time bassist Peter Thorslund and drummer Josua Madsen hammer out in nothing short of a full scale barrage while being matched, albeit in soulful contrast, by the soaring highs of Michael Bastholm Dahl – classic Artillery! Indeed, it is precisely this winning combination inspired by 70s hard rock and propelled by the NWOBHM of the early 80s that’s appealed not just to Artillery’s lifelong fans, but equally to the regard of bands like Metallica, that’s made these Danes such a force to be reckoned with. On ‘Varg I Veum’, it’s more of the same as eastern melodies bring a soothing touch to the fiery riffs crashing around them and Madsen’s equally pounding drum work, while Bastholm Dahl’s rhyming lines add the slick finish before the solos come screaming in for the coup de grâce. Riff galloping in on ‘Mors Ontologica’, the groove is immense thanks to the superb sound courtesy of long-time producer Søren Andersen, who’s worked with the band on every record since 2009’s “When Death Comes”, and as the guitars dance it out in fine style through a blinding medley of fast licks, screaming solos and dazzling melodies, Bastholm Dahl exudes a passion in his soulful highs that will be certainly hard to forget. Forget the bacon, when it comes to Denmark, Artillery slice it like no other!