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Review: Artillery - Legions

Label: Metal Blade Records
Year released: 2013
Duration: 55:12
Tracks: 10
Genre: Thrash Metal

Rating: 4/5

Review online: December 7, 2013
Reviewed by: Christopher Foley
Readers Rating

Rated 4.18/5 (83.53%) (17 Votes)

The last Artillery album My Blood was lacking to say the least, so it was with a little trepidation that I approached their latest opus. A slight shift in personnel would see Søren Nico Adamsen and longtime drummer Carsten Nielsen leaving the fold, although replacing them would be the more-than-capable sticksman Josua Madsen, and a relatively new talent in vocalist Michael Bastholm Dahl. It would seem the new guys have brought a good deal of energy into the Artillery camp, as Legions immediately comes across bold and vigorous.

If their previous singer awarded a degree of power metal timbre to the Artillery sound, then I'd say Michael kicks that element into the stratosphere. His vocals are powerful and impressive, with a great approach to melody whilst being able to cut it in the aggression department. The control over his voice is ace, and he really adds a lot of flair and drama to the material, which I felt Søren couldn't. Of course Michael is no Flemming Rönsdorf, but who is. Those inclined to whine and moan about the lack of Flemming, or how Michael compares to him should kindly move along. At the end of the day Artillery's current sound doesn't cater to Flemming's maniacal unhinged approach.

Stylistically the band bears the most similarity to modern Paradox these days, particularly Riot Squad. The riffs across the board are very much up-front and punchy, and of course the band's identifying middle-eastern flair in sewn throughout. The tone and production in general is of a fairly pushed, modern quality that really is ideal for Artillery's sound in 2013. Everything expected of the band is displayed deftly throughout the album, from their prolonged heavy numbers, focused semi-ballads and everything in between. When compared to their previous full-length, I think Legions stands head and shoulders above in terms of quality, and Michael ensures the album and band sound fresh. Really, the material is well done, with a good sense of focus and dynamic throughout.

"Chill My Bones (Burn My Flesh)" evokes slight feelings of By Inheritance in its intro, although by the time the rapid-firing main riff kicks in you can tell this is modern Artillery. Whilst somewhat of an obvious songwriting choice, I do enjoy Michael's cry of "Chill My Bones" in the first half of the song, and "Burn My Flesh" in the latter. However I feel it could have worked better with the latter cry heralding a new riff; regardless it works well, and the song on the whole rips. Throughout the album mainstay guitar slingers Michael and Morten Stützer really channel their magic, and in terms of quality their riffs are at least on par with those on When Death Comes, if not superior. Evidence can be seen proudly displayed in the likes of the ripping "Godfeather" or the flailing "Anno Requiem", although across the board the material is seriously neck-breaking.

As I touched on earlier, the vocals steer the material into power/thrash territory, and again as I've said, Michael has a good degree of melodic timbre to his voice. The end result is an album that is a blast to headbang to as much as it is to sing along with. I will admit that some of the vocal lines might be a little clichéd, although Michael's delivery ensures that they're, more than anything, good fun. "Doctor Evil" certainly displays these factors well, and the preceding semi-ballad "Enslaved To The Nether" shows how capable Michael is with room to breathe, outside of an upfront, thrashing affair.

After what was maybe their worst release to date, I'm happy to see Artillery taking names and kicking backside again. I think their new singer brings a lot to the table, and I'd also like to think further unification in the fold will bring greater reward for the future. Probably the best thrash album I've heard this year, the mix of great riffs and fantastic vocals tickles me in all the right places. The bottom line: Artillery are a great band, and here they're firing on all cylinders at the top of their game. Recommended!

Other related information on the site
Review: By Inheritance (reviewed by Daniel DGYDP Guerrero)
Review: One Foot In The Grave, the Other One In The Trash (reviewed by Daniel DGYDP Guerrero)
Review: Penalty by Perception (reviewed by Christopher Foley)
Review: The Face of Fear (reviewed by Bruno Medeiros)
Review: The Last Journey (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: When Death Comes (reviewed by Daniel DGYDP Guerrero)
Review: When Death Comes (reviewed by PowerMetal59)
Review: X (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Interview with guitarist Michael Stützer on October 26, 2013 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)
Interview with Søren Nico Adamsen (vocals) on January 17, 2009 (Interviewed by Daniel DGYDP Guerrero)
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