Artillery // My Blood
Rating: 2.0/5.0 — Something’s Rotten in Denmark
Label: Metal Mind Productions
Websites: www.artillery.dk | myspace.com/artillerythrashmetal
Release Dates: EU: 2011.03.25 | US: 04.15.2011
OK, before I get down to brass tacks regarding the new Artillery release, I need to get some stuff out there for public consumption. Yep, it’s an Angry Metal Lecture and you will sit there and listen Goddamnit! For those unaware, Denmark’s Artillery were one of the early entries into the ’80s thrash scene. Their 1985 album Fear of Tomorrow would rank in my top five thrash albums of all time. There 1987 follow up Terror Squad would reside in the top ten. Both albums featured outstanding songwriting, musicianship and most importantly, that certain something extra that makes music truly memorable and special. Though I love both classic Artillery albums, Fear of Tomorrow holds a truly special place in my metal heart. Every song is a thrash masterpiece and if you haven’t heard “The Almighty,” “Out of the Sky,” “The Eternal War” and the epic “Deeds of Darkness” then you’re doing yourself a metal disservice. These were some special platters of metal so go get them and respect the past. Alright, lecture over. Sadly, so is the praise for Artillery. After reforming in 1999 with three/fifths of the original line-up, results have been uneven. While their 1999 release B.A.C.K. was shite, the 2009 release When Death Comes was much better. Now we get My Blood and this once proud crew of Danes has delivered some shockingly sub par material again.
I give credit where credit is due and lead track “Mi Sangre” is a solid, enjoyable thrash song. It has a decent guitar tone and some very well done Middle Eastern styled riffing throughout (especially at 3:15). New singer Soren Nico Adamsen has a respectable voice and alternates between singing and screaming well enough. However, try as I might I can’t help but miss original throat monster Flemming Ronsdorf who had a powerful and unique style that’s impossible to replace. That said, if the rest of My Blood maintained the quality of the lead track, it would have gotten a much higher rating. It was not to be however, and things decline fast.
Tracks like “Monster” and “Dark Days” have worthwhile moments mired amongst annoying and irritating ones. If there’s a quality riff, it gets marred by bad vocals and vice-versa (an example is “Monster” which has decent riffs but awful lyrics, vocals and a silly chorus). Others like “Death is an Illusion” end up veering into thrash-lite territory and become too happy sounding. My Blood hits rock bottom with “Ain’t Giving In” which tries to walk a line between power ballad and cheesy hard rock. It’s awful. From there, they try to rally but none of the songs are very memorable or interesting and none approach the level of “Mi Sangre” (“Warrior Blood” and “End of Eternity” come the closest). While the Stutzer brothers unleash a pretty consistent stream of quality solos and a handful of good riffs across the album, the songs themselves regularly let them down.
Artillery also saw fit to re-record two of their beloved classics from Fear of Tomorrow for inclusion here. As I general rule I’m opposed to the whole re-recording thing and once again my distaste is justified. Both tracks end up pale imitations and inferior in every way. They aren’t as heavy as the originals and Soren’s vocals add nothing positive (but plenty negative). I beseech you, do NOT let these versions be your first exposure to the classics from the golden period of Artillery. In a word, desecration.
As an obvious fanboy for the classic Artillery material, this album is akin to a swift kick in the nether regions. While I enjoyed their previous album well enough, I don’t quite understand what they were trying to accomplish here. I hate to say it but I hope this marks the end of Artillery so they don’t risk doing any further harm to their legacy. As Highlander II was bad enough to ruin a fan’s love of the original Highlander, this is bad enough to stain the Artillery name.