Courtesy: Metal Blade Recprds
It’s hard to believe, but in a little more than a month, 2018 will officially over, and 2019 will be here. It goes without saying that this year has been another impressive one for the metal community, with powerful new releases from acts, such as Soulfly, Tesseract and Nonpoint just to name a few acts. Though the year is almost over, the year’s stream of new releases is not yet over. Veteran metal outfit Artillery released its latest album The Face of Fear on Nov. 16, and it will make critics’ decisions on their year-ender lists that much more difficult. That is because the Danish band’s ninth full-length studio recording’s far-reaching appeal among thrash and metal fans alike. This is evidenced right from the album’s outset in its opener/lead/title single. ‘Sworn Utopia’ does just as much as the album’s title track to support that statement, and will be discussed shortly. Much the same can be said of ‘Preaching To The Converted,’ which will also be discussed later. Each song shows in its own way, what makes The Face of Fear yet another strong addition to this year’s already outstanding list of new hard rock and metal albums. When they are considered along with the album’s other songs not noted here, the whole of the record’s 11-song, 45-minute a work that every thrash and metal purist will appreciate.
Artillery’s latest full-length studio recording, The Face of Fear continues what is for the veteran Danish metal outfit, a long-running tradition of success. It is a work that will appeal to a wide range of thrash and metal purists from the band’s homeland to America and beyond. That is proven in part through the album’s opener/title track/lead single. ‘The Face of Fear’ is an important opener and addition to the album considering the state in which the world currently exists. As the band noted in a discussion on the song’s lyrical content, “the song is about dealing the end of man by himself. We create our own phobia about the destruction of the world, but remain disrespectful to the globe.” Front man Michael Bastholm illustrates that message here, singing right off the top, “The world is gonna fall,” adding in the chorus, “Under crimson skies/Our hopes and dreams, they die/This reality/Why can’t we see.” Additionally, he sings, “No heeding the signs/No wait for tomorrow/Ready between the lines/the face of fear/The scenes will be erased/The trials that we face/Miasma amber mist/the face of fear/It whispers in your ear/It all will end in tears.” From here, Bastholm reprises the song’s chorus, driving home even more, the song’s blatant warning of what we as a species are doing to the planet. The song’s official video serves to illustrate Bastholm’s message even more, featuring images of warplanes dropping bombs, missiles being fired, power plants spewing gases into the atmosphere and mushroom clouds, clear-cut forests and mounds of trash piled up in a landfill. The images, coupled with the song’s intense lyrical message makes The Face of Fear a star wake-up call of what truly is fear-inducing.
The coupling of the song’s straight forward warning in its lyrical content and the visuals, which drive the song’s message home even more does plenty to make ‘The Face of Fear’ an important addition to The Face of Fear. That is because of the clarity that they create together. While they are obviously an important part of the song, they are not its only important elements. The song’s musical arrangement is just as important to discuss as its lyrical theme. Bastholm’s power metal vocal delivery style set against the song’s old school thrash arrangement creates an interesting dichotomy for which audiences have already shown their appreciation. One could argue that juxtaposition harkens back to a style made popular by acts, such as Megadeth, Metallica and Anthrax in the early 1980s. Keeping this in mind, the combination of the song’s musical arrangement, its lyrical content and even its visual content clearly shows why ‘The Face of Fear’ is an important to its namesake album. It is just one of the examples of what makes the album in whole another successful offering from the band, too. ‘Sworn Utopia,’ which comes a little later in the album’s run, is another example of the album’s strength.
‘Sworn Utopia’ stands out in its own way in the overall picture of The Face of Fear in part because of its own musical arrangement. As with the album’s title track (and so many of the album’s other songs), Bastholm’s power metal vocal delivery style couples with the thrash style approach that is so prevalent throughout the album for another powerhouse arrangement. The song’s bridge conjures clear thoughts of Megadeth while the verses and chorus add a touch of Judas Priest influence. Again, that collection of musical influences, which throws listeners back to the heyday and thrash (and power) metal cannot be ignored in its importance. It is only one part of what makes the song, though. The song’s lyrical content is just as important to discuss here as the song’s musical content.
The song starts off with the ringing of church bells before Bastholm and company launch into the song, with Bastholm singing, about altar confessions, priests’ celibacy, altar boys and faith put to the test. He even goes so far as to directly indict the church (apparently the Catholic church) as he sings, “Your law’s religion/Dramatic and vile/Imprisonment…like a child/You must stay absent from glory and joy.” Little doubt is left as to the song’s target, considering what can be deciphered from Bastholm’s rapid fire delivery. If any doubt left at this point, his further statement of “For all I care/Make your peace/But don’t you take/It out on kids.” At this point, there is no doubt left as to the song’s lyrical topic. It is a full-on indictment of the Catholic church and the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the church. Given, it’s not the first time that a band ever took on any religious establishment, but considering the reality of the issue and its importance, it is another pressing matter. To that end, the fashion through which Bastholm addresses the issue here is powerful in its own right. The addition of the fury in the song’s musical arrangement helps to illustrate the urgency with which the issue must be addressed and the importance of the matter. When both elements are considered together, they make the song another clear example of The Face of Fear’s strength. Even with this in mind, ‘Sworn Utopia’ is still not the last example of what makes The Face of Fear another positive offering from Artillery. ‘Preaching to the Converted’ shows just as much as ‘The Face of Fear’ and ‘Sworn Utopia’ The Face of Fear’s strength.
‘Preaching to the Converted’ is another full-throttle trash opus that fans of the genre will welcome with arms wide open. Right from the song’s outset, the old school Megadeth and Metallica influences are on full display, as is even a touch of Exodus. That is evident in the screaming guitar solos and solid time keeping from the drums. Lyrically, the song comes across as a socio-political commentary of sorts. This is inferred as Bastholm sings of people being “shackled” by politicians, those in positions of power “feeding lies” to the populous and mind control of sorts created, again, by those in power. It is an interesting work that is certain to generate plenty of discussion if it has not already done so. Discussions aside, it can be said with certainty that this is another work that indicts those in power for what they are doing to the masses. That includes the world’s political leaders and maybe even military leaders. Again, it is not the first time that a band has taken this road, but it is no less powerful here than in other acts’ presentations. To that end, that message, coupled with the song’s full force musical presentation makes the song in whole yet another clear example of what makes The Face of Fear another welcome offering from Artillery. It still is not the last song that can be cited in supporting that statement, either. One could just as easily cite the seemingly tongue-in-cheek nature of ‘Dr. Evil,’ the direct discussion of what goes around comes around in ‘Crossroads To Conspiracy’ and the warning about the dangers of alcoholism in ‘Pain,’ the album’s strength becomes that much clearer. The somewhat Dio-esque ‘Thirst For The Worst’ adds even more depth to the album as does the Metallica-esque sound of ‘New Rage’ and its seeming message about someone who has been wronged. Between all of those songs and the works directly discussed here, the whole of The Face of Fear clearly shows itself to be another welcome offering from Artillery that shows this band still has plenty of ammunition.
Artillery’s ninth new album The Face of Fear is a strong new statement from the veteran metal outfit. It is a work that from start to end, shows this band can still hold its own with any of today’s up-and-coming metal acts. This is evidenced right from the album’s outset in the warning to the world about what it is doing to the planet, its equally stark musical arrangement and accompanying video. ‘Sworn Utopia’ serves to support that statement even more, as it takes on the atrocities committed by so many members of the Catholic Church. The seeming indictment of the world’s political leaders through ‘Preaching to the Converted’ supports that statement of the album’s strength even more. When it is considered along with the likes of ‘Crossroads to Conspiracy,’ ‘Thirst For The Worst,’ ‘Pain’ and the rest of the album’s works, the whole of the record shows that artillery still has plenty of ammunition, and can still hold its own against today’s younger, up-and-coming metal acts. It is available now. More information on The Face of Fear is available online now along with all of Artillery’s latest news and more at:
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