Whipstriker - Merciless Artillery - (9/10)
Published on January 18, 2018
They came from the Wild Lands…
A little over a year since their last piece of audio warfare, Only Filth Will Prevail, Whipstriker return with album number four, the aptly titled Merciless Artillery. Die hard fans should immediately notice the freshly updated logo, courtesy of Rok, the vocalist of legendary Aussie band Sadistik Execution, and, just like their previous album, Rok also handled the cover artwork. A quick glance should tell everything needed to know about the music: a tank rolling over strewn skulls; cannons firing; a spiked, Mad Max looking mercenary marching onward; and a burning landscape choking the sky with smoke. If you still couldn’t guess, or are just completely fucking clueless, Merciless Artillery brings a blackened speed metal base, brimming with wild thrashing and slathering, filthy metalpunk around the edges.
The logo isn’t the only thing that’s changed, though, with longtime session/live drummer Hugo Golon taking over on guitars, as well. This leaves band founder and resident wild man Victor to focus on bass and vocals. While the music on Merciless Artillery isn’t a far cry from what the band has been pushing since forming in 2008, Hugo’s riffing brings Whipstriker’s sound onto a slightly different level. The filthy, gutter drenched, punk-tinged speed metal is still on full display, but Hugo’s riffing style delivers a more refined and blackened approach that often borders on the blackened thrash of Aura Noir or Nifelheim. The razor sharp tremolo riffing on the title track or the militant pummeling at the beginning of “Soldier of Sodom” show that this isn’t just your everyday Motö-rocking speed metal; this stuff is fucking heavy and hard as iron. Let’s not forget the handful of speed metal infused leads, that bring a fair amount of class to an otherwise filth ridden affair. Hugo’s drumming should also be highlighted, as his frenetic d-beat rhythms and double kicks constantly add fuel to the fire, increasing the intensity of an already intense album. Victor’s bass emulates the loud and driving approach utilized by the likes of Lemmy, while his throaty, growled shouts sound their most vicious.
Equal parts Motörhead, Hellhammer, Sodom, and Venom, Whipstriker’s latest offering should certainly please any fan of the band’s back catalog. The songs are fueled with venom and bring a frenzied and unrelenting pace from start to finish. Raging speed metal mayhem with frequent dips into black/thrash is the order of the day. While some moments sound heavily influenced by Panzerfaust-era Darkthrone, with punk-ish yet crushing riffs, and some progressions could have been long lost relics from the classic Hellhammer demo, Satanic Rites, with it’s bass heavy approach and steamrolling sensibility, most of Merciless Artillery stokes the fires of old school blackened speed metal. It’s not revolutionary (it isn’t meant to be), but, goddamn, Whipstriker does this sound better than any other band out there right now.
While there’s nothing tame about Whipstriker’s back catalog, Merciless Artillery is the band’s hardest hitting and most feral release to date. Though this is the band’s first full length release for the notorious Hells Headbangers Records, this album could be considered the flagship for the label, as it embodies everything that HHR bands usually bring to the table; raging old school metal with a penchant for filth, rage, and speed. While there are any number of bands using that formula, no one seems to be able to tap into the same vein that Victor has hit with Whipstriker. This is authentic blackened speed metal made for cruising the back alleys after midnight. A much revered Motörhead adage comes to mind when listening to Merciless Artillery, “Everything louder than everyone else!” Whipstriker adds to that mantra, with everything louder, faster, and filthier than everyone else; straight from the Wild Lands.