Michael Stützer: Guitars
Morten Stützer: Guitars
Peter Thorslund: Bass
Josua Madsen: Drums
Michael Bastholm Dahl: Vocals
When Artillery formed in the small Copenhagen suburb of Taastrup in 1982, little did they know they’d be here alive, vibrant, and ready to destroy in 2016. Sure, they’ve had their share of ups and downs-the group first folded in 1991, returned for a brief one-album stint with B.A.C.K. in 1999, and officially reformed in 2007 after a good multi-year hiatus-but any metal band worth their salt perseveres. And Artillery have survived. They were there when thrash metal took off. They were around to see the emergence of death metal. And they’re here today, to make their mark on a whole new generation of metalhead.
“We have some of the most dedicated and diehard fans from the early days of Artillery still supporting the band,” says guitarist and co-founding member Michael Stützer. “It’s awesome to meet them when we are on tour. The difference is that now they are coming with their sons and daughters and this is amazing. Half of our fans were not even born when we released our first album, Fear of Tomorrow, but our new fans know all the songs!“
Certainly, old and new fan alike are excited about new album, Penalty by Perception, where they’ll have 11 tracks to learn. Written over the course of the last two years, Artillery‘s seventh full-length draws from classic albums like Fear of Tomorrow and By Inheritance as well as When Death Comes and Legions. It’s an Artillery album that’s both familiar yet modern in its attack. “Penalty by Perception has the typical Artillery riffing, with powerful drumming and melodic singing,” asserts Stützer. “[It's full of] catchy hook-lines. We also wanted the sound to be a bit heavier and more powerful than on Legions.“
But apart from the merciless riffs of Stützer and his brother Morten, the ground and pound rhythm section of drummer Josua Madsen and bassist Peter Thorslund, and Michael Bastholm Dahl’s searing vocals, Artillery wanted an extra spark to songs like ‘Cosmic Brain‘ and ‘When the Magic is Gone‘. So, they invited fellow Danes Hank Shermann and Michael Denner (Mercyful Fate) and Morten Sandager (Pretty Maids) to guest on what is arguably Artillery‘s strongest effort since the group re-committed to metal full-time.
Penalty by Perception‘s attack is both direct yet nuanced. The riotous immediacy of ‘In Defiance Of Conformity‘ and ‘Mercy of Ignorance‘ contrasts the studied awesomeness of ‘Sin of Innocence‘ and ‘Cosmic Brain‘. Thanks to producer Søren Andersen and Medley Studios, Artillery got the sound they were looking for as well. “We had a great time in the studio with Søren,” Stützer says. “We worked really hard together to get this amazing sound. I feel the band have come up with some amazing songs. The best musical performance in the history of Artillery. Can’t wait to hear the fans’ reaction!“
As for the lyrical themes explored on Penalty by Perception, Stützer and company are commenting on current worldwide affairs, death, war, and, of course, religion. But the lyrics aren’t juvenile attempts to associate heavy music to heavy topics, though fan-driven ‘Die by the Scythe‘ might appear otherwise. ‘Deity Machine‘ questions the machinery of religion, ‘Rites of War‘ is about personal struggles, ‘Cosmic Brain‘ details Stützer’s fascination with Superstring theory, while the title track is informed by Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.
Most active metal bands from the early ’80s don’t have the same energy as Artillery. It’s as if the Danes are unstoppable. On Penalty by Perception it’s as if it’s 1985 again. Clearly, Artillery are excited to be making music and touring again. “The last years have been great for Artillery,” grins Stützer. “We have been doing around 100 gigs every year, including three tours of South America, two U.S./Canada tours, trips to Japan and China, a European tour, a UK Tour, a lot of festivals like MetalDays, Bang Your Head, Rock Hard and Maryland Deathfest. And we have been on two Metal Cruises like Barge To Hell and 70.000 Tons Of Metal. We also recorded four albums since 2009!“
Here’s to Artillery! And here’s to Penalty by Perception! Long live Danish thrash metal!