Swinging the armoury: an interview with Michael Stützer of Artillery

Michael Stützer

Michael Stützer

An unrestrained ride of thrash soaked speed metal with rapacious intent and predatory adrenaline, Legions the new album from Danish metallers Artillery launched itself upon the year as one of the most scintillating confrontations to unleash its horde of riotous furies. It marked the band, as it strides its third decade since forming, as still one of the leading pack for thrash and extreme metal. Grabbing the chance to find out more about the album and Artillery itself we set about guitarist Michael Stützer with numerous questions to talk about Legions, evolution of sound and recording, vocalists and much more.  

Hello Michael and thank you for taking time out to talk with us.

You have recently released your new album Legions, ‘a magnetic beast of enterprise and passion’ and prime thrash metal at its most predatory. Did the album come out exactly as you envisaged or has it surprised you with its intensity and power, something the band has never lacked anyway, but at such new heights?

I think there were a lot of things that worked really well on recording Legions. We recorded it very fast so it kept the freshness and nerve resulting in our best production on an Artillery album ever! At the same time we feel we have come up with some of our best songs since By Inheritance with a lot of dedication from all 5 members and definitely also our 2 new ones!

After touring in about a month we went directly to the studio really top motivated! A lot of things really clicked this time and we are really satisfied how Legions ended up sounding!

We felt Legions was a natural revolution to your early albums but not a major departure yet something has ‘clicked’ to send it and your sound to new levels. Is there something for you which has been ignited within the release and its sound that is openly noticeable and potent?

No I really don´t know but of course we have got 2 new dedicated members in the band and that has giving us a new-born power!

We called the songs ‘a horde of riotous and rampant melodically sculpted furies’; was there any determined intent or direction set for the tracks when creating them or it has just been an organic happening?

We have never sat down and agreed that now we will do a song in that direction or that way! It all comes from the heart, Morten or I come with the riffs and then we arranged it all in our rehearsal. At last Michael puts the lyrics on!

What is the process of the songwriting and creation of songs within the band and has that changed over the years and different Artillery 3line-ups of the band?

No it’s almost the same procedure like on our last albums, except for Josh being a lot in the rehearsal room checking out new ideas for the drumming parts.  That is really cool and inspiring in the writing process!

We still do the songs the way we always have done, but we really worked hard with the hook lines, melody, and the arrangement this time!

How would you say Artillery’s sound and approach as changed from the early days but more specifically since returning fully around 2007 and over the two albums When Death Comes and My Blood

The production has definitely improved, our songwriting has improved, we maybe got a little more of a melodic touch in the songs especially in the vocals, but beside that I really think we are true to our roots!

Is there any part or moment in Legions or its creation which gives you that extra glow or tingle inside?

I feel a very good vibe around the whole album, that makes feel real good because it’s really close to what we had hoped it would turned out!

How different, in positive and negatives ways, has it been to record and unleash Legions on the world compared to the ‘old days’ and releases like By Inheritance and B.A.C.K.?

Compared with those albums Legions have been promoted so well thanks to Metal Blade, and this time we are having a dedicated line-up so we can do the touring etc. So we are very positive this time!

cover5Michael Bastholm Dahl is the excellent vocalist on Legions, and over the years Artillery has been blessed with some great ones, Flemming Rönsdorf and Søren Adamsen for example. When you have a new singer come into the fold do you have to adapt the older material in some way for their style and delivery or is the adapting and interpretation down to them generally?

Søren changed the singing in the old songs to fit his style, but Michael is really true to both Søren and Flemming songs and always does them in a very true way!

Briefly going back to the early era of the band, why do you thing Artillery never received the acclaim, stature, and support as other thrash bands of the time, especially from the media and in label backing?

We had lot of problems according to touring because our old singer did not want to tour that much, also a lot of problems with record labels at that time plus some internal things!

You can put out a record like By inheritance which got all those great reviews and not tour at all! So it led to a split of the band in 1991! The music scene was also changing to grunge which made it very difficult for many metal bands at that time!

Has that experienced coloured your approach to the release of your material now?

No not really, but we are more aware of how thing are and how important it is to work hard and tour etc.!

Can we ask what primarily brought about the closing down of the band, twice; was it more internal or external influences?

It was a bit of everything, lack of supports, internal differences and the willing to sacrifice other things to concentrate on Artillery!

As you mentioned Legions is released via Metal Blade Records, how did that union come about?

We knew from our manager that there was a couple of record labels who was interested in signing Artillery! We then recorded 2 songs for Metal Blade so they could hear the new line-up. The songs were Anno Requiem and Dies Irae and we got signed right after that!

Is there anything you miss about the past and creating music which is absent or less enjoyable now?

Sometimes I miss the analog way to do things but it’s not a big problem!

You as a band and individuals are maturer and I assume with families and commitments in tow which would not be a factor when starting out back in the early eighties. Has this affected how you look at the music scene, the band, and generally your attitude to any success nowadays? 

Yeah a little, you have a family to tke care of, but in my case I have a very supporting family and we have been together for over 24 years. You also take things more easy and with a more relaxed way!

But we still have a lot of ambitions to go as far as we can!

Back to Legions and you recorded it with producer Søren Andersen again; there seems to be a strong understanding between Artillery 2both sides which flourishes on the releases?

Yeah, besides being a damn good producer who really respects the way Artillery makes music, he is also a very good guitar player (he plays among others with Glen Hughes) and good friend!

He likes to do Artillery and it’s always a pleasure to work with him!

There is a healthy appetite for ‘old school’ thrash as well as the more corrupted, in a good way, evolution of and mergers of styles into its heart which has emerged over recent years. How do you see and feel about thrash right now and are you finding a hunger for Artillery which is maybe more keen or certainly different from when first laying wastes to the senses?

The time has changed a lot through the years mostly because of the internet. But I really see a future for thrash metal and Artillery. I think a lot more people are open minded now than before. The fans who liked Iron Maiden, Slayer, Slipknot etc. seem to also like bands like Artillery. So it seems like we can get more and more people to like Artillery and Melodic thrash!

What comes next for Artillery as a new year rapidly approaches?

A lot of touring, we go to South America in Feb. Doing a small tour in Denmark, a European tour in May, a US tour around November and playing festivals like Metaldays ETC!

Also starting to write new songs!

Once more a big thanks for chatting with us, any last thoughts you would like to leaves us with?

Thank you for the great support and fine words. We are really glad you like Legions! Cheers!

..And finally for those new to the band or only aware of one half of the band’s big history, would you list your five essential Artillery songs which all metallers should have in their ears?

I will say one song from each album!

The Almighty

Terror Squad

Khomaniac

Cybermind

10000 Devils

Death is an Illusion

And from the new one the title track Legions

Cheers Pete

Michael!

Read the review of Legions @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/artillery-legions/

http://www.artillery.dk/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 19/12/2013

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Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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Demona – Speaking With The Devil

DEMONA Picture

Though it is fair to say that Speaking With The Devil, the new album from Chilean hailing speed metallers Demona, is not really going to change your musical landscape of adventure and passion it certainly will add an extra rich and antagonistically charged slab of pleasure to its scenery. Consisting of nine adrenaline charged high octane driven tracks bookended by an intro and outro the album rampages with enterprise and passion leaping on every compelling note providing ears and thoughts with one thoroughly exciting riot of sound. It may not be threatening originality but it certainly leaves satisfaction and thrills enriched and overweight.

The band started in Chile in 2007 as the one-woman project of singer/guitarist Tanza. Early demos sparked an appetite in the underground scene whilst further afield in 2011 Israeli label Israhell Bangers brought the Nightmare demo cassette to greater awareness with German label Iron Bonehead doing the same with a 7″vinyl EP of the release. After this and the numerous other releases and splits before its release, Tanza moved to Québec in the June of the same year and set about enlisting members for live performances which led to a fully stocked full time situation. Debut album Metal Through the Time took the band up to new levels with its release last year but you suspect that the potency and adventure of Speaking With The Devil could and should be the spark to wider attention and recognition. Consisting of guitarist Gabrihel, bassist Jeff Iron, and drummer Antoine alongside Tanza, Demona is poised to make a deeper statement and impression within speed if not world metal with the Inferno Records released Speaking With The Devil. It might not be setting new boundaries for the genre though at times definitely probing them, but for sure it is irresistible thrilling fun.

From the brief intro which like its closing counterpart is decent enough, the band and album erupts with insatiable energy and DEMONA Coverappeal with Malvenidos. One breath is all it takes for riffs to unleash an avalanche of predatory intent and hunger, scything guitar strokes adding extra drama whilst the equally rampant rhythms encase the senses in a war zone of beats and adventure. The vocals of Tanza seduce and intimidate from her first note, driving on and matching the rapacious attack of the music. She is not destined to be up there with the truly great female metal vocalists but with passion and originality soaking every individual expelling she offers, she breeds a magnetism which only enhances the songs.

The fury of sound passes into the next up Dirty Speed Metal and never relinquishes its grip and persuasion right through to the album’s conclusion. The second track has an even greater rabidity and menace to its muscular brawl which seizes an awakened appetite even tighter for the infectious grooves and stirring sonic enterprise to stake their claim on the passions alongside the unbridled predation. It is a stormer of a track, an early pinnacle which is eagerly matched by the title track with its distinct character and similar breakneck speed attack. Imaginative vocal seduction adds extra variety and spice whilst the nagging sonic enterprise of the guitar aligned to the virulent riffery only ripens the passions over the voracious exploit.

Both Traitors and Bad Boy shove air out of the way with another contagious torrent of breath stealing rampancy from all corners, bass and drums caging the senses for the riffs and sonic invention to sear their lingering imprint. The first of the two has a punk edge to its combativeness, the vocals of Tanza squeezing extra squeals and expression out like a speed metal Siouxise Sioux whilst its successor deepens the threat from the rhythm section for a canvas which accentuates the scorching flames of guitar and Tanza’s best banshee impression. The pair reinforces the potent start of the album with ease and rigour whilst adding extra flavours to ignite the imagination further, the latter of the two merging some Danzig like horror metal into its greedy tempest.

The likes of the excellent punk ‘n’ roll infused Demona and the intensive Stronger Than the Hardest Stone continue the addictive temptation, though the second song lacks the hook and toxicity which launched earlier songs into the passions, whilst Mercenario stalks the imagination from its opening stance before sending acidic grooves and heavy metal enticement across its sinewed bows. Again it does not quite live up to the previous peaks of the album but is still very satisfying             and makes a great appetiser for the final juggernaut The Sorceror’s Escapade, the song another riveting speed metal ruction to devour. The most inventive track on the release it takes the excellent Speaking With The Devil via the outro to a rousing conclusion.

Demona have not set new standards of originality with Speaking With The Devil but definitely have provided an immensely thrilling and satisfying treat to end the year with.

http://www.demonametal.com/

8.5/10

RingMaster 19/12/2013

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Legions Of War – Forced To The Ground

LEGIONS OF WAR Pic

Though it took a little while to fully convince, Forced To The Ground from Swedish metallers Legions Of War has emerged as a rather exciting and individual slab of blackened thrash metal. Whether the nine track album simply wore down doubts and defences or something clicked in the psyche it is hard to actually say but after numerous exploits within its sonic warfare the clouds of uncertainty parted for a richly satisfying encounter to rampage through.

The Inferno Records released Forced To The Ground comes after the quartet’s well-received debut album Towards Death of 2009 and two years later the Riding With The Blitz EP. The new release builds on the promise of the two-track EP, taking its potential into a field of invention and aggressive malevolence which yes took a little time to persuade but given time created a battle field of imagination and intensity which invigorated and provoked the imagination. The album does not have an openly ground-breaking presence to its antagonistic sounds either but does offer a lingering incitement which has thoughts and emotions exploring it’s accomplished and inventively sculpted textures and uncompromising adventure with hunger.

The album’s concept of war brings an immediate aggression and barbarism to the release which is explored and stretched LEGIONS OF WAR Coverfurther by the battalion of combative tracks. From the scene setting intro, marching boots surrounded by a poignant and evocative melodic coaxing, the opener Through the Barricades steps from the increasingly intensifying brew of provocation to unleash a tirade of ravenous riffs and equally predatory rhythms whilst the vocals of guitarist Zyklon squall and rub with expressive causticity over the senses. It is a towering start exchanging full on energy and speed for intimidation and enterprise with the craft and skill of the band an open declaration as the track conjures up evocative imagery and striking sonic maliciousness. The bass of Hellwind is a vivid compelling force too alongside the impressive guitar sculpting of Zyklon and Widowreaper whilst the rhythms of Martin Hogebrandt are low on mercy and high on predation.

The following title track and its successor Pile of Corpses continue the impressive start, the first intercepting a relatively straight forward thrash seeded premise with infectious melodic spicery and unexpected twists of invention whilst the second of the two crafts a delicious niggle to its persuasion and riffing which erupts throughout to enslave the passions for the rest of the band’s venom and pleasing creativity to tease further. The extra shouts and group vocals on the track also add enjoyably to its rich suasion.

Though it has been a strong and appealing start the album leaps to greater levels with the combination of Remains of War and At the Eastern Shores. The first of the pair opens with an emotive melodic caress painting the aural landscape before riffs and rhythms provide a heady and intensive yet restrained weight to the emerging expanse of the song. Bringing a more heavy metal breath to parts of the track to align with the black and thrash metal persuasion, the song is a masterful temptation. Fusing Metallica like strikes into more unique and just as addictive sonic flames and melodic exploration, it is a contagious maelstrom of energy and thought again prowled by the darkly crafted bass sound and littered with sparks of unpredictable invention. Its successor is another kind of beast, its aggressive jaw primed to tear out the hearts of its victims as riffs acidically lash their carcass and rhythms splinter their bones.  Spiralling grooves and gnawing riffs dominate the core of the track allowing the great vocal antagonism and debilitating rhythms to taunt and pounce with glee. It is another pinnacle and so potently anthemic and enjoyable that its three minutes plus feels like a mere whisper of time in passing.

Though a tall order to follow what is the combined highlight of the album from the previous two songs, the pestilential stalking of the senses by Grandiose Visions and the ravenous appetite of Death Brigade offer a valiantly destructive incitement, the impressive second especially gripping and enticingly dramatic with mouth-watering guitar play, whilst In the Warfield Storms is part war cry and part requiem, and fully magnetic to the passions.

Night of Revenge brings the release to a close, its presence as savage and blistering as anything on the album and just as thrilling, riffs and rhythms thrashing the ears into willing submission and melodic enterprise piled with dramatic imagination coating the wounds. It is an impressive end to a similarly impacting album, one which took time to make its appealing statement but emerges as another strong spark for the world of thrash this year.

http://www.legionsofwar.se

8/10

RingMaster 19/12/2013

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