Review: Artillery’s Legions


If it’s true that vocalists in metal have become irrelevant, then nobody told Artillery scab Michael Bastholm Dahl.  Brought on board last year after the departure of previous Artillery 3.0 singer Søren Nico Adamsen, the Danish screamer gives every indication that he has the pipes that could win over the masses.  Sure, Legions is musically powerful, but those gilded lungs make a statement all their own.  We don’t get to use the term singer all that often, but Dahl takes that word and makes it his bitch.

Lots of modern metal bands spurn their good-time rock origins in favor of a spiritually darker, introspectively conscious emotional maelstrom, but it wasn’t always so.  The heavy ‘n’ fast grassroots revolution arose with guys who just wanted to party harder and louder than their safer-tempoed counterparts.  By the time the 80s burned off into the 90s, Artillery already had a respectable rap sheet, and Legions certainly honors the crowd-pleasing stage rock that birthed their scene.  The Stützer boys and company set out to make muscular, catchy, and above all distinctly recognizable thrash tunes, and they mainly succeed.

I should probably mention here, for the sake of candor, that my tastes veer pretty far from clean-throated throwback thrash rock, and all indicators should point to me hating this music pretty hard.  But I don’t.  The songwriting talent on display is formidable, and all the instruments turn potentially routine passages into extra appendages that work always in the band’s favor.  The crispness and depth of the recording helps all the music feel vital and relevant.  Longtime bassist Peter Thorslund and new drummer Josua Madsen provide an iron rhythmic backbone, never forgetting that leaving cochlear bruises is their Number One duty.  The guitar sound is truly second to none, and the riffs and solos could be a new recipe for hyperactive sonic Rogaine, sprouting three-foot locks from barren roots in less than a song length.  And again, Dahl’s vocals simply cannot be ignored.  Any lesser being would probably have made a mess of this record.

Of course, it is clean-throated thrash rock from Denmark sung in English, so there’s a certain amount of readily accessible cheese to be found.  But you’re not coming to the Artillery party for the soul-piercing poetry.  You came to PARTY, dammit!  Here’s an hour of well-crafted, hard-hitting party-starters, with not a bummer in the bunch.

Artillery’s Legions comes out November 25 on Metal Blade. Stream the track “Chill My Bones (Burn My Flesh)” here and pre-order the album here.

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