Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Artillery (review by MMB)

Artillery (Denmark)
Penalty by Perception
Metal Blade Records
release: 25 March 2016
Artillery's first album was ferocious thrash metal as you can hear on 1985's "Fear of Tomorrow," a strong debut full of youthful energy and lots of rage. Wonderful 80s thrash, even though it doesn’t get mentioned much in the press nowadays. The aggressive semi-growl from said album turned into a scream for vengeance on the next one, "Terror Squad" (1987). The production was clearer, the vocals more expressive and irate, the musicianship tighter, and the songwriting was more memorable, but the band now sounded angrier, mad at the world of politics, religion, government, police abuse and just mad, mad, mad. Gosh, some of those lyrics will make you blush even today: songs like “Let There Be Sin” and “Terror Squad” are no friends of authority. Somebody in Artillery woke up on the wrong side of the bed … every day in 1987. Then came the sophistication of "By Inheritance" (1990): they were more tuneful, and the vocals had pivoted towards more traditional heavy metal singing. Artillery had now arrived at that sound that they have today: thrashy, but not so uptight about utilizing a bit of that Judas Priest heavy metal foundation.
To make a long story short, the times have changed, the band has broken up a few times and each time it looked like they just weren't able to get along for a long time or they just couldn't keep it together. Thus, here we are in 2016, and despite the drama and dirt of the music business, Artillery is still alive and with a new album. It’s number eight, if I am not mistaken. They have been knocked down more than a few times. Some people gave up on them. Things weren't looking so good at times. They almost got counted out. Yet, somehow, here is Artillery, following up on the 2009 album, the 2011 album, the 2013 album. Hey, now, this new century hasn’t been too bad, eh? The old dogs are wiser and they still got it. At this point in time, the band has been around the block and they have been on the chopping block. They are no spring chickens. They are a thrash band, but not a pure one; it's more like both thrash and classic metal. They have the uptempo songs, but they can do a rocking, catchy power ballad like "When the Magic Is Gone."
This is an album by a band doing their best to have the strongest set of songs that they can. If you have never heard the band before, this album is a good introduction. They are on the ball. They take care of business. The only questions that are left to answer are the ones that only you can answer for yourself. Do you like the vocals? Is this a style of singing that you enjoy? Do you like the modern production that they have or is it too modern for you? When you are Artillery, there's no need to play retro thrash or nostalgia thrash because thrash is their identity. “Life is a rodeo, somebody makes it, somebody don’t,” but don't nobody gotta tell you how the rodeo works if you have spent a lifetime in it. As long as the band is fully behind what they are doing, then it's going to work for them. Fame and fortune? That ship sailed a long time, friend. The false illusions are gone, the youth is but a memory (well, they do have some younger members in the current incarnation, though). All that is left is the desire to rock. Ah, but that’s what matters! It's all you need! “And if that’s all there is, it ain’t so bad.” C'mon, Artillery is here, you are here, let's do this thing. They came to rock.
Artillery "Live by the Scythe" (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

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