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 line-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!
Michael 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 both 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!
Death is an Illusion
And from the new one the title track Legions
Read the review of Legions @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/artillery-legions/
The RingMaster Review 19/12/2013
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