Genre: thrash metal
Since their comeback in the form of "When Death Comes", Artillery were on a roll, delivering first class thrash metal. A key factor seemed to be the voice of the new vocalist Søren Adamsen and his aggressive, but melodic, approach to thrash metal lyrics. So when Søren Adamsen AND drummer and founding member Carsten Nielsen left the band in 2012, some people were naturally concerned that their departures would have a negative impact on the future of Artillery. Their replacements were vocalist Michael Bastholm and drummer Josua Madsen and their full-length debut as Artillery members was 2013s "Legions".
I do not want to belittle the efforts of the members they replaced. Søren Adamsen's aggressive voice suited the aggressive style of Artillery very well and added a dose of energy to the overall picture. Likewise, Carsten Nielsen's punky drumming style was a source of raw aggression. But, the two new members do a phenomenal job. Josua Madsen's drumming is more refined and has more attention to detail but retains the aggressive edge, and Michael Bastholm's soearing and powerful vocals blend nively in with the Artillery sound and add a slightly epic dimension.
Musically, "Legions" continue were "My Blood" left off, and thus comes as a natural extension of "When Death Comes" as well. "Legions" explore further the epic feel of the predecessor - and this is where Michael Bastholm's voice fits in so perfectly. The Eastern influence that has characterized Artillery's music since "By Inheritance" is still present, as are the bands old school thrash metal roots. In other wordsm this album is as Artillery as it gets, which is really a testimony to the Stützer brothers' talent for consistent songwriting.
The opening track 'Chill My Bones (Burn My Flesh)' starts out with a tribal-cum-Eastern-come-epic intro, before it morphs into a solid midtempo thrasher that rivals the likes of Exodus and Xentrix. The soaring chorus is both awe-inspiring and appropriately bone-chilling. The title track is rich in Eastern scales and thrashy aggression as well as technical finesse and nicely placed tempo changes. 'Wardrum Heartbeat' is characterized by the same blend of aggression and technical sophistication and features some solid midtempo passages. Vocals-wise, Bastholm delivers some pretty impressive vocal melodies, and I also like how the band experiments with the riot choir effect. 'Global Flatline' is a heavy and melancholic affair, and the aggressive 'Ethos of Wrath' has a slight power-thrash feel to it. Indeed, it is difficult to pick stand-out tracks from this album because they are all so strong.
"Legions" is very well produced, and the songwriting is strong. The musicianshp is top notch across the board. I am particularly impressed with the new vocalist. His soaring vocals and impressive vocal melodies really add a new dimension to Artillery's sound that takes it to another level of awesomeness. I like how the musical aspect of the album is undeniably Artillery, and how it can be complemented by a new vocalist. As mentioned, I do not want to belittle the work of Søren Adamsen (nor that of Flemming Rönsdorf), but it is undeniable that Artillery have really found an incredible vocalist in Bastholm.
In all, this album is definitely up there with "When Death Comes", "My Blood", and "By Inheritance" - I dare say that it is perhaps their best album since "By Inheritance", and that's really something, because "When Death Comes" and "My Blood" are extremely good thrash metal albums. "Legions" is, for my money, an instant thrash metal classic and easily rivals bands like Anthrax, Heathen, Flotsam & Jetsam and other thrash metal bands who also combine aggression with melody. "Legions" offers high quality thrash metal. Period.