Those fans old enough to remember the days when word-of-mouth regarding underground bands was spread not via message boards and file sharing, but rather via tape trading among global pen pals, will likely have a soft spot for ARTILLERY, a band whose talent unfortunately far outpaced their popularity in the marketplace. At long last, the faithful can get their hands on the band's first new music in over 10 years. Fear not, and have no doubt - this not only matches the quality of the original material; it surpasses it.
With “When Death Comes,” ARTILLERY take the current wave of retro Thrash bands back to school. Not to denigrate the current generation of Thrash acts such as MUNICIPAL WASTE, TOXIC HOLOCAUST, and EVILE, but these bands pay homage to old-school Thrash. ARTILLERY, on the other hand, helped to invent it, and here they create music that has that same old vigor and passion for an evolving musical form, only better.
ARTILLERY still have that same anger that fueled most of the early Thrash innovators, yet still remember their craft well enough to understand that passionate rage does not have to equate to pure brutality when translated into musical form. Crunchy, aggressive, galloping riffs are present, but they are matched by a strong sense of melody and infectious hooks. New vocalist Søren Adamsen injects a 1980's Traditional Metal vibe into the music, with his ability not only to hit the operatic high notes, but also to mellow out and carry a strong tune. Those fans who also remember ARTILLERY's penchant for including Near Eastern melodies in their music will not be disappointed, as tracks “Rise Above It All”, “Damned Religion” and “Uniform” all contain hints of this characteristic from the old days.
The vocals here are the most pleasant surprise of this album. Not that previous releases were weak in this area, but Adamsen takes things to a much higher level of quality. He is one of those vocalists whose voice is so distinct and his skills are so incredible that, were it not for strong performances from the other members themselves, he would have completely stolen the show.
Those who like the old school should own this. It defies all reasonable expectations for a band that created music that was well-respected and beloved by true fans, and then took an almost twenty year break. ARTILLERY came back from their time away and created their best album to date.
(Online June 22, 2009)