Some thrash acts who were round during its early years have gone the distance, others have fallen by the wayside and some have gave up and regrouped and come back many years later. Danish Thrash outfit Artillery are one of those. Instrumental in the early days of European thrash and after initially calling it a day at the start of the 90’s, reforming and splitting again, the veterans came back again in 2007 and have stayed together since. With their eighth studio album, “Penalty By Perception”, the big guns are loaded and ready to fire.
With a more traditional approach to thrash, focusing mainly on the melodic main lead melodies, clean but very powerful vocal delivery and heavy hitting riffs, all eleven tracks show one thing – consistency. From the album’s opener “In Defiance Of Conformity” with its pounding groove feel which runs throughout it to the closing track, “Welcome To The Mindfactory”, the core rhythm components of riffs, bass and drums all work fantastically as a well oiled unit. Even when the drums become a little more intricate or complex at points, or the bass really booms out overpowering the other instruments, it all stays firmly locked into place, allowing the lead melodies, wild and frantic solos and the powerful vocal lines to provide the creativity and artistic flair needed to maintain interest in a record like this.
To describe the overall musical approach, think of what a collaboration between Annihilator and Savatage might sound like and you have a pretty clear picture. Technically precise but with plenty of creative flair to it and dramatic musical deliveries with powerful vocals, it bridges the gap of technical thrash and classic heavy metal, giving a well rounded sound perfect for headbanging to or just to sit there and enjoy as it is. Case in point, the middle tracks of the album, from “Mercy Of Ignorance” through to “When The Magic Is Gone” demonstrates this. With a wider variety of approaches and deliveries musically as opposed to the standard thrash type, each song really jumps out and makes the band shine.
“Mercy Of Ignorance” has a classic thrash riff groove but its moderate pulse and melodic styled fills which sandwich the main pounding groove riff make it sound much bigger and some of the vocal work, including fantastic air raid siren styled screams to really up the intensity round the solo’s is perfectly delivered whilst “Sin Of Innocence” brings in a more hypnotic and captivating approach with the exotic sounding melodies, mesmerising drums and precise and fluid fret wizardry which would make many aspiring virtuoso guitarists stand up and applaud. However, the real crowning moment is the very Savatage-esque “When The Magic Is Gone” which has that powerful melodic heavy metal feel to it but with the technicality of thrash when called on. With a rich atmosphere, clever use of synths and piano lines to augment the predominantly clean ringing verses and rich distorted leads with a real emotional and expressive delivery to them, it really changes how you will look at this band.
Whilst these examples of breaking from the ‘norm’ are wonderful, as a whole it does feel rather samey at times for the rest of the album. Sure, its not a bad thing, the rhythms are spot on and the riffs are fantastic, but the lack of variation in the vocal delivery and similar styled solos in places put an impression of playing it safe, not wanting to push the boat out that little bit more than they may have done with the slightly more expressive tracks.
Needless to say, when the groove kicks in and the heads start banging, you know the barrage has begun and the big guns of Danish Thrash have plenty of power in them still.