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After establishing themselves in the metal underground with their stellar debut album “Fear of Tomorrow,” Artillery definitely needed to hit their sophomore record out of the park to even match the preceding record’s success. “Terror Squad” is that second album and despite its godawful album art it accomplishes a few new things for the band, and unfortunately fails to accomplish others, which ended up making the album a notch below the debut. Luckily, this 8-song collection is still strong and saw Artillery treading some new ground and adding some more “weapons” to their musical arsenal.
One noticeable addition to the sound that was established on “Fear of Tomorrow” was the added variety in riffs. Not a single riff on “Terror Squad” sounds alike, as the structures aren’t just a mix of fast or midpaced riffs and some very well placed power chords. Stutzer’s fingers are flying all around the fretboard for these songs and it’s noticeable on tracks like “The Challenge” and “Hunger and Greed,” both of which feature riffs that could rival acts like Forbidden and Coroner. Of course these Danes could still thrash like maniacs, most noticeably on songs like “Terror Squad” and “At War With Science,” which are violent enough to incite a riot, while the latter also showed some technicality that would later become even more significant in the band's sound.
Another highlight on this album is the awesome performance by Flemming Ronsdorf, who once again took the entire band to the next level. His gift for hitting incredible highs, vicious growls and beautiful, clean notes is unparalleled in the thrash subgenre. Morten Stutzer also shined with his bass playing, delivering fill after fill, and even being heavier than the riffs at points. The drumming wasn’t amazing, but it was solid and the drummer got what needed to be done to make these songs thrash. I don't see anyone who enjoyed "Fear of Tomorrow" not liking this album. Artillery definitely made an awesome sophomore record with “Terror Squad,” and while not quite good as the predecessor, it’s still very memorable in its own right.
“At War With Science”
“Decapitation of Deviants”
Originally written for Nightmare Reality Webzine.
This album marks the stage of this great bands maturation. Fear of Tomorrow showed merely a glimmer of Artillery's potential, both from a strictly technical perspective, and from a songwriting point. Fear of Tomorrow is killer don't get me wrong, in fact it is way up there for thrash debuts i think, but Terror Squad, WOW. This album is just nonstop headbanging. This album is what thrash is about.
Continuing with the idea of maturation, this albums production is much more professional then Fear. You get a lot more of the high end that wasn't really there. Having said that, the production is still far from what you might get on say a more mainstream album. But this is not a bad thing by any means. This gives the album a nice charm, and the raspy crunch of the production gives the album a very unique quality, that fits in perfectly with the rawer thrash sound this album has.
Flemming Ronsdorf's vocals are fucking beyond compare. This is when he really finds his voice, and cranks out some absolutely vicious, and inspiring high pitched yelps, that would make Rob Halford shiver. His voice can hit some insanely high notes, but at the same time maintain a raspy growl like quality to them. His vocal performance on this album is one of the best in thrash, and is one of the strongest points on the album.
The Stutzers are not going to be ignored though, and no one but the deaf could. The riffs? THE RIFFS? They are just too good! Morten is still on bass duty at this point, and he kills it. The bass sound could be a tad louder admittedly, but it is still audible, and kickass. The bass fits both roles as supplement to the overall sounds, and as a third guitar, doing its own thing and adding layers of dynamic thrash! The bass is excellent on this album.
As for Michael and the six string, it is business as usual for Artillery. This band has some of the most consistent guitar work of any band. Every album, every song, has absolutely epic headbangworthy riffs. On this album exists some of the best thrash riffs of all time in my opinion. The main riff to Terror Squad is complete crash-my-head-in-to-a-brick-wall heavy! The bass complements the DUTDUHDUT DUTDUHDUT so well, it creates a hammer of sound that forces your neck to bang up and down. And every song on this album has riffs like it. The intro to At War With Science? FUCK YES. Chorus of In the Trash? OF COURSE! just go buy this album now!
The drums are easy to neglect when the vocals and strings are being top notch, but they are as important to a metal album as any other. Plenty of variation, with great fills and beats. They also aren't overpowering, allowing you to rock out to whats really important, the guitars. But it fits with the album, because the riffs are what really matters here. In fact on all Artillery albums the drums end to fade out in my listening mind. But thats not to say they suck, because they always are keeping pace and thrashing like the rest of the album.
The lyrics here are actually pretty awesome. Much more mature i think, then most thrash bands, even in their later years. I always end up singing along to songs like Terror Squad, The Challenge, In the Trash, Hunger and Greed, and At War with Science. I may even growl DECAPITATION, OF DEVIANTS! Through my teeth.... But don't judge me! This album has no real drawbacks. My only real gripe, is ending with Decapitation of Deviants. At War With Science would've been better in my opinion. But really, every song on here is completely amazing.
This album really represents the peal of what thrash is. Top notch riffs. Awesome speed, technicality, and versatility with all instruments and vocals. Socially aware lyrics with mind blowing vocals. This truly was a peak of the genre that would be very difficult to top and probably wouldn't. But this album didn't mark the end of the bands maturation, and they outdid themselves before this album was fully appreciated. But thats ok, because that said outdoing, is truly breathtaking....
For Thrash metal perfection, even if it was only perfected further, Artillery's Terror Squad gets a well-earned 99 out of 100. Or a 5 out of 5
In the Trash
Hunger and Greed
At War With Science
It might look as ugly as sin, but Terror Squad marked a mild, steady evolution from Artillery's 1985 debut. The band honed in their chops, better channeling their aggression into an act to be reckoned with, with thick and charging guitars that remind me of Master of Puppets' more forceful gallops. The lineup was precisely the same here as on Fear of Tomorrow, and it was recorded once again in the El Sound Studio, Copenhagen, but its cleaner. The drums are more perky sounding; the guitars more engaging (especially the mutes in the voracious riff patterns) and an inkling more technical; the vocals better blended into the fray, although I would honestly say that the chorus parts on the debut were as good as these.
Again, they choose their pacing wisely, with some of the most memorable tracks dominating the first half of the album and ensuring the interest of the listener. "The Challenge" has some of the most technical, intense guitars Michael Stützer and Jørgen Sandau had yet manifest, seeming strangely enthusiastic despite the rather negative worldview of the lyrics. "In the Trash" has some excellent riffs in the verse, and it also sets up a sequel for the following album. But then comes "Terror Squad" itself, a slower piece oriented in massive grooves with Morten's bass sliding all over the place. The hooks within this incredible, with Ronsdorf screaming with the same passion he'd be pursuing for the brilliant follow-up, gang shouts joining him for the potent if predictable chorus. I can't say I love the little samples that the band throw in here, but they're at least flush with the riotous subject matter.
"Let There Be Sin" returns to the higher velocity that opened the album, and the muted riff in the middle of the verse (around :30) is simply loaded with awesome. But the second half of the album doesn't necessarily maintain the consistency of the first. "Hunger and Greed" has a great, screaming chorus and 1-2 decent guitars, but the rest are forgettable; and "Therapy", while a pleasant foreshadowing to some of the tactics used for By Inheritance, is perhaps a little too silly in the vocal area, Fleming screaming like a little girl (or like King Diamond, if not as piercing) before the trot of the bridge. "At War With the Science" is largely another groover, but the riffs aren't quite as effective as "Terror Squad". Thankfully, the closing thrust of "Decapitation of Deviants" ties everything together, and so ultimately if feels like at least six of the tracks here have stormed your arse off.
Terror Squad was not exactly a foremost highlight of European thrash for 1987, being that it was up against titans like Terrible Certainty, Finished With the Dogs, Persecution Mania and Chemical Invasion. However, it proved that Artillery was no one hit wonder, and readily evolved their high strung, energetic sound from the debut, even if by small increments. That said, in retrospect it seems like it suffers by comparison to what happened next. But really, what wouldn't? This album might be a shower nozzle compared to the forthcoming 1990 tidal wave, but nonetheless it belongs in the collection of any discriminating thrasher.
Terror Squad is the second full-length by the thrash metal legend Artillery. It’s from 1987 and it’s always able to deliver a great assault of speed/thrash metal with balls and a very good sense of songwriting. The production is now clearer than in the past but the violence and the aggression of this band at the instruments always remained the same. This little thrash metal jewel was again a bit overlooked at the time to prefer other albums from Europe or even USA in this genre but surely this Terror Squad is mandatory for the thrash metal fans.
The first track is already brutal as hell. “The Challenge” features fast, this time thrasher in style, up tempo parts and sudden, heavy mid-paced ones. What always astonished me is the amount of riffs in every single album by Artillery. It’s like being bombed everywhere by relentless guitars with a truly dry but powerful distortion. Thank to the better production, this time they are less confused (in sounds, just in sounds…) than on the previous effort and the galloping parts finally can be heard very well. A fitting example could be “In The Thrash” song.
The vocals by the mythical Flemming Rönsdorf are always amazing and they are always a way between the speed metal and the classic thrash. By the way, they are always truly particular and easily recognizable with that strange timbre that is more audible during the screamed parts. Everything on this album seems more “thrash metal” than in the past. From the guitars to the drums patterns, everything is better structured and a bit less melodic in the lead lines. The classic speed metal lines survive a bit but this time the pounding riffs take dominion along with a massive dosage of aggression.
The title track is the true highlight here. Since the riff at the beginning, you can have an idea of what the song would sound. The rhythms are less fast and the refrain is awesome with choirs and low vocals united to high pitched ones. The mid-paced tempo is preferred to give the right heaviness through hyper heavy riffs and pounding drums. Even the guitar solo is better structured than in the previous songs, even if they never shined from the point of view of the technique but mostly for the speed and heaviness. They are mostly shredded and on tremolo picking. Even this time the volumes help in exalting them.
“Let There Be Sin” is more compact and fast. The presence of more galloping riffs increases my sense of pleasure towards such a good musicianship by these guys. If the drums tempo is a bit unvaried during the up tempo parts, the guitars change the riffs lots of times. “Hunger and Greed” and “At War With Science” are two examples of how they would develop their sound in the near future with the following album. The riffs are more complex and there are more tempo changes. They easily pass from the mid-paced parts to the up tempo one and they fill everything with weird solos and sudden breaks. The last “Decapitation of the Deviants” is the most obscure track here. The vocals are more low tuned and the music is on dark fast pace with dark breaks where the lead guitars are preponderant.
All in all, this is a very good follow up. To me, the debut is superior also from the point of view of the catchiness and the purity but this one shows an evident improvement in technique and it’s more mature. What lacks in some parts is the well stuck refrain or the distinctive riff. By the way, this album remains and important stopover for a brush up in thrash metal.
The second offering from the Danish thrash posse Artillery, Terror Squad is, much like its successor By Inheritance, a prime example of the quality that can result when technical thrash and melody collide. The musicianship displayed on this album is astounding, and an apt demonstration of the sheer talent that resides in this band.
Perhaps the first thing one notices when the opener, “The Challenge”, starts is the great, crisp production that this album possesses (especially impressive for an album from 1987). There is not a note missing or sullied in this intricate riff-fest, letting the guitars (the obvious focal point of the album) truly shine. The riffs are constant and catchy, supporting the speedy leads. Even on the slower songs, such as the title track, the guitars maintain a good crunchy rhythm, perfect for the headbanging frenzy that this album is sure to induce. Flemming Rönsdorf’s vocals are quite good as well, especially when he belts out the high notes, as in the chorus of “Terror Squad”. Overall, he does a good job of keeping up with the rapid guitar assault, though his vocals do deviate from his otherwise consistent performance on a few tracks.
The tracks themselves are all pretty solid. “The Challenge” is a suitable opener, “Terror Squad” truly does itself great justice as the title track, and “Let There Be Sin”, “At War with Science” and “Decapitation of Deviants” are all top-notch.
Really, each member is performing more or less at their peak here. Sandau maintains good, pounding rhythms, which mingle with Michael Stützer’s impressively skillful, blisteringly intense leads in a symphony of intricate guitar work. The bass is well done, with the occasional solo and the drums are suitable for the music. As previously mentioned, Rönsdorf performs admirably on most of the material, adding icing to the cake. All in all, these elements come together to make an excellent album, showcasing the rawer side of Artillery. Pick it up if you enjoy hearing some interesting technicality with your thrash fix. This album is deserving of every bit of its reputation.
I'd give this a higher rating, but frankly, Flemming Ronsdorf's vocals, while unique, are also incredibly irritating. But this album is good enough to bypass that and get to the heart of the matter, which is the fact that it kills even after all these years. That and the excessively trebly lead guitar sound bugs me a bit also, but its rawness adds to this album's appeal.
Other than those two quibbles, this is an EXCELLENT album. Lots of catchy, crunchy riffs, controlled speed making for more memorable songs and an overall sense of class over crass, amazing Blackmore-sounding leads from Michael Stytzer (but better than that overrated "guitar god") are a great start. And the strong bass work from Morten Stytzer is a refreshing thing too--his brief solo spot near the end of "Let There Be Sin" is outstanding, with devastating tone and the fact that everything stops dead to let this fabulous mini-solo blare through makes for a more startling dynamic contrast.
The opening track blasts off with the first of many killer riffs (tuned down to D, unlike many thrash bands of the time) and rips into a controlled thrash part that segues smoothly into a half time verse--all perfectly arranged. "Terror Squad" is a crushingly heavy track with a perfect headbanging feel and great gang chants on the chorus: "TERROR! TERROR! Ter-ror Squaaaaaad!". "Let There Be Sin" is another great, catchy tune with the same controlled half time verse going into thrashy chorus they used so well and frequently. Overall, this was their best release of the lot, with the first album being good but not great, and everything else they've since released after reforming being, shall we say, inferior. A pity, that is, but at least they have this one monument to their greatness to stand the test of time. And you could do worse for old school thrash than this.