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I was really looking forward to this release, Artillery were always one of the coolest thrash bands around, and even their recent material has kicked its fair share. Sadly My Blood just couldn't live up to my expectations, and was even hard pressed to induce the slightest tap of my foot.
The first indicator to this being a disappointment was that I found my attention waning within the first track, the second was that as a result I found it a chore to even listen to the album. This is fucking Artillery, and listening to this band should never come around as a chore.
For all the pitfalls of the first track "Mi Sangre (The Blood Song)" the band do manage to kick up some dust big style, and I often forget that the second number on My Blood, "Monster" is a fairly serviceable thrasher. The bands signature guitar shenanigans are still quite intact, complete with eastern flair, and the lead guitar work is really impressive, with an almost Heathen style leap in quality in that sense.
"Dark Days" manages to keep things a little more interesting, but isn't anything you haven't heard before. Whist masterpieces such as By Inheritance utilized the bands signature guitar stylings to interesting and original effect, the band seem to content to go through the motions, using the daring stuff sparingly. "Death is an Illusion" is maybe the best track here, with some passionate performances and quality riffs.
The later half keeps things going in unspectacular fashion, with the Clichéd "Thrasher" inspiring little besides a token yawn, and even "Concealed in the Dark" which starts as quite promising ends up falling short. I think most of this is down to the production which really stifles the music in a bad way - it just doesn't feel free - and I hate to say it, but Søren Nico Adamsen's vocals are rather tepid and uninspiring.
"Warrior Blood" is the saving grace of the later half of the album and is up there with "Death as an Illusion" as far as the cooler cuts go on My Blood. Overall, I don't think fans of Artillery will be truly disappointed with the release, but those expecting an enigmatic thrashing classic will be. I can't say I'm not a little disappointed, but it could be a lot worse.
Despite my not being a big fan of thrash, I named When Death Comes, from reunited Danish thrashers Artillery, as one of the best albums of 2009. It was packed with aggression and instrumental prowess, necessities to the genre, as well as catchy songs like "10,000 Devils" and "The End". So of course I got their followup, My Blood.
It still sounds like Artillery, as you might expect, with very strong playing by all members and excellent, attitude-imbued singing. And the first few songs continue the trend of good songwriting. Open "Mi Sangre" starts with a Spanish lick before going into full-bore thrash, although it is a tad confusing when they go into an Arabic/Egyptian thing in the middle. "Monster" is generic but strong, and "Dark Days" is bouncy--with an incredibly catchy chorus.
But then things go downhill. The middle of the album is completely disposable cliche. "Death Is an Illusion" is a cliche song with cliche lyrics about choosing love, or some other garbage, and "Ain't Giving In" is the requisite "song with melodic verses and a hard chorus". They follow up the mellow track with an acoustic interlude, as if that's needed (you're supposed to put those between blistering assaults, not gentle caresses). After that point it gets slightly better, but it's too little, too late to save the album.
The deficient songwriting is compounded by over-loud production, adding to the sense they're just milking the cash cow at this point. It screams "Listen to me!" and they throw in some good tunes at the start. But then, nothing worthwhile.
The Verdict: Reunions can be pretty hit-and-miss. Ideas can percolate in the band members' heads for a decade or so, and the best stuff can come out to create a phenomenal album. But it's pretty rare that they're worth paying attention to after the first reunion album. Artillery falls neatly into that pattern.
originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/
All trains must come to a stop. Or at least, we've yet to discover an infinite, self-perpetuating combustion system to keep them on the tracks forever. Thus is also the case for Artillery, but their sixth full-length My Blood is thankfully not a complete halt, just a cautious deceleration. Not in actual speed, mind you, but quality. The reasons are numerous, but the most telling is this is the first album which seems not to add anything new, or rather, not anything new and welcome. From Fear of Tomorrow to Terror Squad there was a positive evolution, from Terror Squad to By Inheritance there was a massive leap into genius. When they reformed in the 90s, B.A.C.K. was a fresh and modern mutation. In the 21st century, they silenced the opposition with a fine performance from new vocalist Søren Nico Adamsen.
There is simply nothing all that compelling to be drawn from My Blood, an in listening through I've felt like I had just taken a trip to the Red Cross to donate my plasma, only to be turned away because the banks were full for my type. Most of the trademarks of When Death Comes are intact: generic album title, fantastic production, bright and melodic thrash interspersed with a few clean guitar sequences, but the songs simply cannot match up. You will hear quite a few, thinly veiled self-referential hints in the compositions that hearken back to By Inheritance ("Death is an Illusion" in particular, or the very Eastern intro to "Mi Sangre/The Blood Song") or the groovy havoc of B.A.C.K. (as in the preview tracks "Monster" and "Warrior Blood"), but they don't offer anything intriguing to the formula. My Blood is not void of variation, as the band rove through ardent thrashers, rock-spliced ballads ("Ain't Giving In") and cheesy crowd pleaser anthems ("Thrasher"...ugh!), but none of these fields are conquered here, unless production and musical proficiency are your only measures of success...
To that effect, Artillery are still quite on fire. Morten and Michael Stützer still know how to blaze trails with busy riffing and excellent lead technique, but I can't think of more than a half dozen riffs on the entire album that brought me back to that salivating state I was zoned into as recently as When Death Comes. Adamsen's siren-like nasal potential is once again realized, and to be fair he's practically the only memorable element on several of the tracks ("Dark Days" and "End of Eternity" are examples), his power metal roots shining straight through. Though I've been disappointed with his performance of the band's classics in the live format, he doesn't make a hack job out of the energetic remakes of "Show Your Hate" and "Eternal War" from Fear of Tomorrow (included as bonus tracks in the digipak). The rhythmic duo of Thorslund and Nielsen is tight as ever, and the mix is so spotless you can see your reflection in more than just the back of the CD.
In summation, the album's polished, substantial deluge of content is simply not on par with what I've come to expect from the Danes. It's good enough to separate itself from the thoughtless, derivative droning of so many throwback thrashers, but it's not above a moment or two of brain death itself. Clean as a whistle, just as piercing, and sometimes as irritating. Not a letdown as far as the constituents' individual skills are concerned, and not a necessarily bad or even mediocre album, but a dearth of truly memorable writing from men who generally carve out a far larger slice from the pie of passion.