For thrash metallers of a certain vintage, Artillery’s ’87 rager Terror Squad will hold a special place in their vinyl racks. And while the Danish act didn’t exactly conquer the world – and spent much of the 90s and noughties inactive – their post-reformation material has re-ignited the band’s loyal support. It’s also shown that they can still compete in a world where teenagers proudly sport Sodom and Kreator patches.
This record will do much to solidify the quintet’s rep as dependable veterans: the opening salvo – The Face Of Fear and Crossroads To Conspiracy – sees Michael and Morten Stützer unleash scintillating, precision-guided fretwork over a muscular production courtesy of Søren Andersen; Preaching To The Converted is a relentless assault which moves up several gears thanks to Michael Bastholm Dahl’s exhilarating vocals; and Sworn Utopia is a nuclear conflagration between Bay Area suss and Teutonic ferocity.
But there’s much more to Artillery’s ninth studio opus than vicious thrash. And that comes to the fore on tracks like Pain, a song which nods to Dio and allows Dahl to soar: a truly gifted singer, he certainly deserves the chance to shine.
New Rage, meanwhile, brings an addictive stomp and Through The Ages Of Atrocity puts the emphasis firmly on guts and groove; the change of pace is refreshing, and doesn’t seem out of place.
Yet while the band are clearly intent on moving forward, they’re quite happy to honour their past: a re-recorded version of 1982’s phenomenal Mind Of No Return, for instance, will have older fans salivating and youngsters trawling e-bay for the original. It’s a nice touch from the great Danes… and with a new version of Doctor Evil thrown in too, they certainly know how to treat us.
Artillery, The Face Of Fear, is out now on Metal Blade.