Artillery: Legions

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Artillery: Legions
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Artillery: Legions
Thrash Metal
Metal Blade Records
November 26th, 2013
Release length: 55:18
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After a few major changes last year, Artillery returns with their seventh full-length album, Legions. Not only is the band now signed to Metal Blade Records as opposed to Metal Mind Productions for 2011’s My Blood, they also picked up a new drummer and vocalist. Josua Madsen, formerly of Club Hell and Consumned, replaces Carsten Nielsen on drums, while current Ripe and former Indoctrination vocalist Michael Bastholm Dahl takes over where Søren Nico Adamsen left off. With roughly a year since they joined the ranks, is this recording a recipe for disaster, or is Legions one of their better offerings?

One thing you’ll pick up on almost immediately is that the bass is present, but at a low volume. This causes Legions to be a louder, higher pitched album without much of deeper backbone. The bass kicks have a nice click to them that grounds the performances a bit, but just isn’t enough. In fact their volume is a bit too high and can take away the rest of the performance. Both issues can really do some damage, but sometimes can be ignored. The catchy introduction of “Chill My Bones” is open enough that you can pick up on the bass and deeper parts of the drum kit, but once the song finally kicks in, some of the faults do become obvious. After a minute with the song, you won’t really notice them again until the rich melodic chorus. The on-and-off two-step drumming sounds great in some of the bridges, as well as a companion to the guitar solo. The mid-range clean singing is met with solid higher notes through the main verses, as well as the occasional falsetto that shows the excellent range for the well paced performance.

“Godfeather” is a solid track, but some simpler riffs do find a good deal of gaps that weaken the impact. This is one of the moments where you’ll wish the bass was a little more dominant in the mix. “Wardrum Heartbeat” is another excellent song, but it’s one that finds the higher volume levels really shrill and obnoxious. The opening honestly made me jerk the chair back and sit at a distance to try and hear the riffs and drumming over the obnoxiously loud distortion. “Legions,” however, wasn’t as bad, and winds up a fun track full of energy that takes advantage of the clean singing. The thick distortion on the guitars during the German army drill audio sample gives it some real bite before the song even starts a minute in. The main verses find the drums really taking over to balance out the guitars, creating a less painful experience. The chorus has a sweet melody that slows things down a bit for an old-school NWOBHM touch that allows the bass to stick out for a brief amount of time, teasing you with what could have been on the first half of the album.

Oddly enough, it’s the majority of the last half that sounds dramatically different and better. “Global Flatline” shows traits of a ballad thanks to the slower pace and lack of guitar distortion sometimes. Some passages have an odd mixture that can be compared to slower Pantera and not as epic Iced Earth, but still makes for a fantastic experience that finds the thick distortion turned down, even when the speed picks up about half way for an eccentric burst of adrenaline prior to and during the solo. “Enslaved to the Nether” has a similar set up that builds from a slower pace to more intense verses and layered vocals that command your authority. The downplayed distortion continues onto “Dies Irae,” which even finds the bass sticking out a lot more. It’s a superior experience all around, allowing the tight and complex drumming to accentuate the shifts in pace and tempo throughout. This track also has the most technical guitar solo that is impressive enough to make your jaw drop.

Artillery have proven themselves time and again to be a strong force in the Thrash Metal world, and somewhere beneath the abrasively loud distortions is another album that proves this fact. Legions is hindered terribly by the high volume on the guitars that dwarfs damn near everything else. What’s worst is some songs downplay the ridiculous level and end up truly memorable experiences, teasing you with what could have been. Legions does show off the vocal range and skills of newcomer Michael Bastholm Dahl, proving he’s a superb choice, but pretty much does everything in its power to make Peter Thorslund’s bass performances pretty much pointless, rarely showing off what potential he may or may not bring to the group. This is a prime example of the “if you play loud it’ll be good” mentality showing up in the studio, making for an album that will have anyone who listens crying for whoever thought these levels were even remotely good to be drawn and quartered. Thankfully there’s enough songs that can be played on a setting louder than ten percent of the volume your speakers can churn out, making what had the potential to be a seriously kick ass album worth at least one go around.

01. Chill My Bones (Burn My Flesh) – 6:06
02. God Feather – 5:13
03. Legions – 4:37
04. Wardrum Heartbeat – 5:52
05. Global Flatline – 6:57
06. Dies Irae – 4:54
07. Anno Requiem – 4:14
08. Enslaved to the Nether – 5:28
09. Doctor Evil – 5:53
10. Ethos of Wrath – 6:05
Initial Pressing Score: 5/10

Artillery
Artillery

Digital review copy of this release provided by Metal Blade Records.