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Metal Blade (2013)
Rating: 8.5/10

When it comes to cult thrash, Danish maniacs Artillery are one of those underground bands that every self-respecting thrash metal fan should know about. Forget the countless new and upcoming bands attempting to bring back the 80s, because for all the good fun the new breed may offer the likes of Artillery are the real deal and have been cracking skulls for decades.

Ever since the release of their debut assault Fear Of Tomorrow in 1985 and 1987’s Terror Squad (complete with atrocious cover art) these guys have been known across the world for their aggressive, face-ripping brand of fast-paced metal – the sort of jugular-tearing thrash that never once hit the big time, but it was a sound that was forever embedded into our hearts like a set of rusty nails.

Artillery’s career was somewhat short lived first time around with 1990’s By Inheritance being the last of their terrific trio of records, before their return in 1999 with B.A.C.K. Despite the violent nature of B.A.C.K. it once again signaled further problems for the band, and despite returning a decade later with When Death Comes in 2009, original vocalist Flemming Rønsdorf had long since fled the disheveled nest.

Even so, the several line-up changes haven’t halted the progress of this machine which puked out My Blood in 2011 – with the band fronted by Søren “Nico” Adamsen. But now we’ve reached 2013 and Artillery are keen to keep our attention, and despite returning with yet another vocalist, this time in the form of Michael Bastholm Dahl, this unhinged combo are still intent on showing the new kids on the block how to master the art of old school thrash.

Dahl is backed by the twin guitar fury of the Stützer’s (Morten and Michael) along with bassist Peter Thorslund and drummer Josua Madsen, and as expected the result of these guys putting their instruments of torture together is one hell of a racket.

‘Chill My Bones (Burn My Flesh)’ opens with a classic Eastern influence and pitter-patter drums before the weight tumbles upon the cranium like a lead balloon. Riffs tear the flesh, the bass cuts through bone and the drums batter as Dahl’s melodic tones soar above the cacophony.

Artillery have effortlessly moved into the premier league of thrash, leaving behind their hazy days of raw cult sneering, this time upping the levels of mosh to allow the guitars to breath as the epic rattle of ‘God Feather’ gloriously introduces itself with raging speed. Dahl sounds more impressive than ever, giving the record a clear and modern presence as he wails amidst a sea of flailing solos which give the record a maddening feel.

I’ve struggled to pick a favourite track despite several listens, such is the quality of this opus. For instance, the seven-minute ‘Global Flatline’ begins with sinister aplomb but lumbers into foreboding melody, while ‘Anno Requiem’ is simply an aural assault that leaves a carcass bereft of bone such is its fiery intensity. ‘Ethos Of Wrath’ is another full on thrasher, but again those vocals give it such a refreshing edge, while ‘Wardrum Heartbeat’ features some truly pounding drums and furious vocal wails. In other words, Legions is a top-notch thrash experience that should dwell for many hours in that CD player / record player / iPod (delete where applicable!) of yours.

Neil Arnold

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