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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Artillery – Legions

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With more charge to it than the national grid and stronger adrenaline fuelled rapaciousness than a swarm of ladies on day one of the sales, Legions the new album from Danish metallers Artillery unleashes a horde of riotous and rampant melodically sculpted furies. The album is a magnetic beast of enterprise and passion and one which takes the accomplished and acclaimed presence of the band to new heights.

To be honest the evolution from earlier releases from the Copenhagen hailing quintet is not as dramatic as you might anticipate but something has clicked within the band, whether it is the addition of new members or the finding of a certain element in their intent and songwriting, but where personal tastes could previously take or leave Artillery, Legions has sparked a definite hunger and compulsion for its exhaustive adventure. Formed in 1982 the band released four enthusiastically received and acclaimed albums before disbanding in 2000, for the second time. 2007 saw Artillery reform and release two years later When Death Comes, to be followed two years later by My Blood, both again earning success and acclaim. With a few changes across the years the current line-up  emerged last year with vocalist Michael Bastholm Dahl and drummer Josua Madsen joining founding members and guitarists Michael and Morten Stützer, and bassist Peter Thorslund who joined in 1989. Following a triumphant European tour this past May, the band entered the studio with producer Søren Andersen and what has emerged is a thrilling unrestrained ride of thrash soaked speed metal within an album which simply ignites the imagination.

The Metal Blade Records unleashed record opens with the intriguing entrance of Chill My Bones (Burn My Flesh). A tribalCover rhythmic coaxing is soon joined by a folkish dance, both aspects reserved yet wrapped in an eagerness which is hard to resist. It is not long before the song erupts into a blaze of sinew powered riffs and thumping rhythmic provocation whilst still leaving room for the initial beckoning to continue its call. Mere moments later and the band is rampaging through the ear with bass and drums adding a fiery predation aligned to the scorching of guitars whilst the immediately impressive vocals of Bastholm Dahl add their particular melodic flame to the proceedings. It is a magnetic onslaught which drips craft and imagination whilst chewing the senses like a rampant wolf.

The immense start is instantly continued through the following God Feather, the track taking over where its predecessor left off, riffs and rhythms a torrential provocation and contagious persuasion ridden by the outstanding clean and fluid vocals. Imagine Testament meets Flotsam and Jetsam with a healthy dose of John Bush led Anthrax and the track and album comes into view whilst offering plenty more for the appetite to breed a real hunger for. The song is a virulent anthemic lure matched by the exceptional title track. As with most the song gnaws on the senses from the start, riffs a corrosively seductive temptation punctured by the potent rhythmic antagonism of Madsen. With an almost waspish irritancy to its grooves and a swagger to its breath the track is a breath-taking blitz on ears and thoughts.

Both Wardrum Heartbeat with its stalking rabidity and Global Flatline through its inventively shifting and evolving raid of diverse metallic flavours reinforce the towering start; the second of the pair simultaneously unpredictable, enthralling, and expectations satisfying, a pinnacle to match the opening two songs whilst next up Dies Irae provides an unsurprising and safe but still riveting anthem all great speed metal conjuring requires. The guitar play of both Stützers is stunning across the album with this track and the following Anno Requiem open showcases, the pair’s ability to savage and seduce within a blaze of time irresistible.

It is fair to say that the album is not smashing down metal walls but as shown by the individual majesties of the epically sculpted melodically drenched Enslaved to the Nether and the sinister Doctor Evil, where menacing predacious riffs and enchanting sonic ingenuity hold hands as they rush the senses, Artillery rigorously embrace thoughts and emotions in a storm of adventure which stands side by side with some of the very best this year.

Closing with the Middle Eastern seeded insatiability of Ethos of Wrath, the song a sultry muscular temptress which excites in every aspect, Legions is a scintillating and arguably unexpected treat for ears and passions to indulge greedily in. It is also a release which just gets stronger with greater captivation the more sorties you take within its exceptional siege, right now Artillery is at the top of its explosive game.

http://www.artillery.dk/

9/10

RingMaster 27/11/2013

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Hell’s Domain – Self Titled

Hell'sDomain

Giving the body and senses no time to grab a breath from its first brawling note through to its riotous last, the debut self-titled album from Danish thrashers Hell’s Domain is a storming blaze of thrilling aggression and voracious energy. Without pushing down the walls of the genre, the album is one of the freshest and invigorating thrash releases to come along certainly this year and a marker for other bands to aspire to if they want to permanently enslave the passions.

Formed by bassist Lars Knudsen and guitarist Bjørn Bihlet in 2007 with an intent to conjure up some contagious Bay Area-inspired metal, the band was soon drawing on the combined experiences of being in bands such as Crionic, Hatesphere, Pixie Killers, Artillery, Grope, Koldborn, and Exmortem from the mid-eighties and over three hundred shows with a line-up completed by drummer Anders Gyldenøhr, vocalist Alex Clausen, and guitarist Andreas Schubert in 201,. Produced by Tue Madsen (The Haunted, Sick of it All, Kataklysm, etc.) and released via Punishment 18 Records, the band’s first full introduction to the world is armed with all the weaponry and virulence to thrust them into the widest recognition of devouring passions possible. With a sound sure to re-ignite the hunger bands like Testament, Exodus, and Slayer bred over the years, Hell’s Domain is a force destined to re-vitalise their genre.

Days in Hell opens up the fury, riffs searing the flesh of the ear whilst belligerent rhythms rap hungrily upon the smarting doorways to Hell'sDomainCoverthe senses. It is an immediately incendiary confrontation elevated by the excellent vocals of Clausen and the escaping grooves which taunt before wrapping tightly around the still torrential flow of antagonistic riffery. There is a swarm like incessancy to the attack which only accentuates the song’s temptation and merciless persuasion, but also an intent which is equally sure and precise in its picking and seizing of targets.

The following The Needle and the Vein and In The Trenches continue the immense start, the first caging the listener in a web of drum stabs and hearty riffs before flaring up with scythes of melodic flames which have a near on psychobilly lilt to their punk bred strikes. The song ravages with pack like intensity and ferocity from every second and note whilst drawing a tempering seduction from its melodies and sonic enterprise to defuse the suffering. The mighty encounter is soon matched by its successor, the song initially a more restrained and deliberate enticement with a hard rock beckoning soaking the vocal’s entrance before casting a greater thrall through an Anthrax like adrenaline led predation.

Even at this point you sense something special is brewing up potent toxicity, a hope and assumption confirmed by the likes of the slower persuading yet ultimately passion seizing Order #227, the sonic sand blaster The Walls Come Tumblin’ Down, and especially by the exceptional Crawling in the Shadows. The second of the three is a blistering tempest sculpted by ever impressing destructive rhythms and scathing consuming riffing ridden by magnetically alluring and powerful vocals. The song epitomises the album, it not exactly stretching boundaries but creating a presence and attack which is compelling, virulent, and lanced with individual sonic devilry. The last of the trio opens with a smouldering weave off melodic caresses upon the ear and imagination, its ambience building up to a climactic expulsion which holds off until the colour hued narrative of the guitars have crafted the landscape for the sinew clad adventure to forage. The track once in full stride stalks the listener with its predatory yet welcoming charm, showing again the diversity and inventive thought within the thrash cored tornado of an album.

There is not one sign of weakness or a dip in the staggering strength and lure of the release, songs such as the mighty Dead Civilization, a bruising assault loaded with greedy rabidity, and the corrosively riveting and deliciously wanton As Good As Dead only accelerating the deepening call of a set in rapture whilst the exhilarating primal force of A Good Day to Die leads the pulse rate and heart into dangerous territories, whispers of Suicidal Tendencies only raising the toxicity of the song’s bait.

Completed by a cover of the Crionic track Sneaking Disease, Hell’s Domain has unleashed undoubtedly one of, if not the very best thrash record of the year and a contender for the most enjoyable metal album full stop. Now this is how to spend those coming autumn months, locked in the maelstrom that is Hell’s Domain.

http://hellsdomain.dk/

10/10

RingMaster 24/09/2013

 

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