While I’ve always been a fan of the massively underrated ARTILLERY, when the band announced they would have another new singer for their seventh album “Legions” I was…still unsurprised. Mr. Dahl, who now holds the vocalist position for the Danish Thrashers, is the seventh official vocalist for the band. Meaning they have had as many vocalists as they have had albums which, in itself, is something of a concern for fans and those looking to get into the long time Thrash act. That kind of change does not necessarily promote consistency or chemistry.
Fear not my fellow Thrashers, like every other time that ARTILLERY has changed line-ups, it doesn’t effect the outcome of “Legions” as much as one would assume. While the band has only changed their sound by bits and pieces through the years, “Legions” is very similar to what the band was delivering on their previous effort, writing wise, and the modern production and mix helps deliver the technical prowess that we’ve come to expect from the band. The riffing punctuates that older Thrash sound, the winding song structures on songs like “Global Flatline” (which starts out almost ballad like to eventually cascade into some serious mosh pit goodness in the middle) will appeal to the more progressive minded, and ARTILLERY still pours out an energy and chemistry that defies the struggles they’ve been put through. While “Legions” might not be quite the effective modern thrash effort we’ve heard from ARTILLERY in this recent incarnation, it’s still a damn fine record overall.
These are all things that ARTILLERY has shown us previously though and if you’re a fan, you’re more than likely dying to know how the vocals work here since this is truly the big change that “Legions” has to offer. In all honesty, it’s also the one that will probably split fans too. Dahl, while being a phenomenal vocalist in his own right, brings a very distinct Power Metal vibe to the record. More of the aggressive moments in the vocal work have to be delivered through layering and backing vocals because Dahl is there to bring the melody…and the melody he brings. He throws in soaring notes with precision accuracy and songs that utilize his strengths benefit massively. Listen to the elongated tones on the chorus of “Chill My Bones” or the flying moments he hits on “Anno Requiem” and you’ll see why he was chosen to front this band.
If anything, ARTILLERY falls prey to the same issue that hindered “My Blood” just a few years ago. It tends to be a little long in the tooth and some of the writing feels drawn out. While “God Feather” features some strong solos and a killer riff, the song might have benefited from being cut a minute or so to punctuate the Thrash tendencies of the band and this is a theme that tends to run through the record. ARTILLERY is still pretty effective at making each song a ‘journey’ for Thrash, but it’s not all effective and it leaves a few songs (the relatively boring “Doctor Evil” for example) as filler instead of killer.
Fans of the long time Danish Thrashers will definitely find more to love than criticize on “Legions,” but the lacking aggression in vocals and hit or miss flow for the record does make it a step below even the last one. While Dahl impresses as the new vocalist with his Power Metal pipes, the band hasn’t quite figured out how to use him to the best of his capabilities yet and it leaves “Legions” feeling a bit more hit or miss. While ARTILLERY still remain as one of the best underground acts, “Legions” isn’t quite up to par with their best even if it’s still a solid record.
(Online November 26, 2013)