ArtAh, another album where I can drag out the hoary old cliche “I’m old enough to remember when their debut came out… “. True, I do remember the Danes’ ‘Fear Of Tomorrow ‘ but frankly as I’ve heard nothing since, not terribly relevant these days save for knowing I’m somewhere on planet thrash. The odd thing is, though as opening song ‘Chill My Bones (Burn My Flesh) ‘ opens with a swirl of North African style acoustic work before hurling itself into the melodic thrash pit is how metal itself has changed since 1985. Now there would be an argument for this slick melodic speeding guitar work and clear, full of range vocals to slip into the harder end of power metal if it wasn’t for the rattling, hard as iron drumming and the fine way the guitar drops into some real, gravelly gear box riffing and time shifts on follow up ‘God Feather’. No this isn’t some hardcore influenced Toxic Holocaust brigade, more the thrashing out older brother to Nevermore.

Title track ‘Legions’ is where you begin to realise where the strengths in this long standing battery is; the combination of these super tight, deceptively gritty riffs with the superb machine gun drumming is just The Way It Should Be. Energy drive and sheer unadulterated grunt. Listen to ‘Wardrum Heartbeat’ and that huge engine room drum and bass forming up behind the lead break-outs like some great shrapnel scarred bulldozer.

Not mentioned the vocals yet have I? Yeah. And this is going to sound either odd or plain stupid. I just don’t know here and there. New guy Michael Bastholm Dahl (who along with new drummer Josua Madsen joined the core of guitarists Stutzer, Stutzer and bassist Thorsland) has a fantastic voice, without a shadow of a doubt; more range than the most epic of Westerns and the ability to hold a note that would make most power metal vocalists weep into whatever chalice their current album was wittering on about. In short he is truly excellent. And he can even get a bit of dirt into them on a lower register: Just he rarely bothers. Which is a shame because when he does, the already vibrant musical colours just burst out. Listen to ‘Dies Irae’ and compare it to the almost-but-not-quite-ballad of ‘Global Flatline’ where things get just that touch too slick for me and maybe you’ll agree. Maybe not.

That is small stuff though. This is top notch, commercial without being too obvious thrash. Hooks? Try ‘Enslaved To The Nether ‘ for example when just when you think it all gets too Scorpions style catchy and commercial the dry, grinding guitar riff hauls it safely back. Riffs? Just lying around all over the place like a war zone. Lead breaks? Clean, fast and classy every time. Energy? Pumping and bristling. Ok in 2013 I’m not sure anyone needs a song called ‘Doctor Evil’ and it is the low point when an almost poppy melody is spliced to one of those angular Nevermore chug riffs and some very cheesy lyrics drop out but with nine other songs you can skip over it.

This is very much at commercial European end of thrash rather than the off the shelf cut-off and turned up baseball cap shout and growl brigade, but commercial is absolutely NOT a dirty word here and if you have an appetite for such things this is first division stuff. Melodic but powerful and with grit. Talented, professional and with a masterful collection of memorable and exciting riffs and great singing the guys done good.

(7. 5/10 Gizmo)