Artillery is one of those classic groups that I ignored for the longest time because I'm a bad kid. I'll admit "Legions," Artillery's seventh album, was the first of the band's works to ever grace my ears-as I said, bad kid. I can't say I'd expected a record of this magnitude after so many years in the game and the general quality standard of many of thrash's middle-aged veterans, but our first date went well and I scheduled another, whether Artillery likes it or not. I find myself thoroughly impressed with "Legions" for the most part. From a newcomer's perspective, Artillery bobs on the cusp of power/thrash metal while juggling a ton of melody and charisma, almost giving the songs an upbeat, vigorous tint. At thirty-one years young, they have more chops and zest than most modern thrash bands I can think of, that's for sure.
I'm not calling "Legions" perfect or a masterpiece of any kind, but for a thrash album in 2013, it stands above the bulk of the cattle. Most of this credit goes to the Stόtzer brothers, Michael and Morten, who are phenomenal riff designers and engaging on a technical level. Just about every track has a surplus of fantastic guitar work, often ranging from traditional thrash chops to Middle Eastern flares, and blazing leads everywhere. As I said before, Artillery's semblance is much more based on energy, a bit of a walk from the evil atmosphere of the Slayers and Onslaughts of the world. "Legions" is punchy and lively; riffs exploding through the rhythm section while Michael Bastholm Dahl, in his first role as Artillery's vocalist, shouts above the guitar work with a ton of passion and vitality. Their dichotomy is often crisp and absorbing.
I can't compare Dahl to other Artillery vocalists-you know, bad kid-but he's a stellar fit within the group's surroundings. His range and versatility are fantastic; he has no issue blending into a maiming riff or something pushing "Legions" back onto the brink between power/thrash metal. From the superb "Chill My Bones (Burn My Flesh)" to the seven-minute, environmentally-themed "Global Flatline," Artillery is varied, complex, magnetic, and firing on all cylinders. They hit a bit of a rough patch when "Dies Irae" and "Anno Requiem" roll around, both tracks acting like shadows of the album's first half, bobbing around on lame choruses and playing-it-safe musicianship, much unlike the relentless animation of something like the title track.
I really have no idea just what in the hell is going on during "Enslaved to the Nether." It's like a whiny alt-rock ballad with an acoustic bit thrown in the middle to make it appear, I don't know, emotional, or deep? "Doctor Evil" and "Ethos of Wrath" make up for that zone of inconsistency, but really, "Legions" probably would've been truly excellent had they scrapped those three songs I mentioned earlier. Their brief transgressions may be forgiven, however, as most of "Legions" delivers multitudes of admirable guitar work with an unparalleled power of thrashing heavy metal goodness. Can't say I'd call this a wasteful investment or redundant in the least; Artillery lives up to the hype.