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Artillery is one of these bands that never got recognition they deserve. Hailing from Denmark, they’re one of the biggest classic metal forces in their country, but somehow they never managed to achieve worldwide success. Of course, those who listen to thrash metal at a regular basis surely know who these guys are, but it’s not the popularity Anthrax or Testament reached (not to speak about Metallica or Slayer). And that’s too bad, because this is certainly one of the most powerful thrash acts ever, or – simply put – one of the very best. They prove it better than ever with “When Death Comes”.
One of the reasons why Artillery remains relatively unknown outside the thrash metal box may be the fact that they broke up after releasing three classic albums in late 80’s. After quite a while they decided to come back and released CD called “B.A.C.K.” in 1999. While still very enjoyable, it didn’t manage to be up to par with previous ones. The worse thing was, though, that the band chose to… break up again. It seemed like a definitive end of the band, but surprisingly, they decided to kick some asses again and returned with new vocalist and new album.
Let me get this straight right now – this album is a damn BEAST. It shows it at the very beginning, with the riff of the title track being so technical, fast and just plain awesome that every fan of the genre who downloaded this album will surely stop the CD after a first few seconds just to run to the nearest CD store and correct his unforgiveable mistake. And this is only the start, for metal madness doesn’t stop even for a moment during whole album. Tracks can be a little slower or faster, but the overall feeling remains more or less the same, causing you to headbang till you don’t know what your name is. Mellower moments happen only as introductions to proper songs, which all are constant relentless rifffests we’ve all been begging for. But the riffs aren’t the only thing metalheads live for, and that’s why guitarists show us their unbelievable skills by playing a lot of solos. The leads aren’t one-dimensional, you will hear some heavy metal, melodic vibe put here and there between shredding moments. That’s why the album never gets boring – instead of full-on assault we get extremely well though-out blend of speed, technicality and melody. That’s right, “When Death Comes” continues in the vein of their previous albums, being rather “melodic technical thrash metal” than brutal thrash in the vein of Slayer. And that’s what’s great about it!
The thing one could fear was how the new vocalist will present himself, for the vocal performance was, besides the riffs, the most important thing about early Artillery records. The new frontman has a different way of singing, he doesn’t utilize those high-pitched, almost power metal vocals that were trademark in band’s early days, but there’s absolutely nothing to fear! Soren Nico Adamsen is still not your typical thrash metal barker, his vocals are also closer to heavy/power metal territory and add a lot to how the record sounds. It’s impossible not to sing with him when he uses his great “almost high-pitched” voice to shout out what he thinks about modern society’s issues, religion, foul relationship, war and all this stuff that usually fills metal albums. The good thing is that the lyrics are not cheesy, don’t try to be evil or trve, but instead of being bullshit, they’re well written, catchy lines encouraging listener to yell every word with the full capacity of his lungs. So, all in all, the band lost nothing hiring new frontman. They rather added whole new quality to their music (still, Flemming Ronsdorf is one of the greatest vocalists ever!).
Drums and bass are not the most important thing here, but also in this territory the band members did their absolute best to contribute to overall quality. You won’t hear any jaw-dropping drum fills here, but what you surely will hear is precise, fast, skillful drumming that every thrash metal band would like to present on their albums. And although the bass is hard to hear for most of the time, the moments when it’s in the spotlight also show good skill and even better songwriting, because all those moments are well put into the songs and everything falls just into place. On top of that we have brilliant and clear production. The album doesn’t fell like it’s overpolished, but everything is just like it should be – razor sharp.
Well, that may not be new “By Inheritance”, but it’s not a vice, as “By Inheritance” is only one and it seems impossible to top that record. The bottom line can be only one: screw all this “revival” thing, for Aritllery’s B.A.C.K.!