Veteran thrash metal outfit Artillery returns Friday with its latest album, X. The title is a representation of the album being its tenth full-length studio recording. Coming more than two years after the band released its ninth album, The Face of Fear, the band’s latest album will appeal to any of the group’s established audiences. It will also appeal to any thrash metal aficionado. That is proven in part through its featured musical arrangements. They will be discussed shortly. The record’s lyrical themes play just as much into its appeal and will be discussed a little later. The album’s production rounds out its most important elements. It brings everything together and will be discussed later, too. Each item noted here plays its own important part to the album’s presentation. All things considered, they make X a strong statement about Artillery ten albums and almost four decades into its life.
Artillery has seen a number of highs and lows over the course of its nearly 40 year life. From the breakups and reunions, to the new albums and lineups, this veteran thrash metal act has been there and done that. Now with its aptly-titled 10th album, X, the band shows that it still has more highs to reach. That is proven in part through its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements in question are everything that listeners have come to expect from the band. Right from the album’s outset, the guitar riffs offer audiences influences of Slayer and Judas Priest in one in ‘The Devil’s Symphoony.’ The shredding solos and the powerhouse verses pair with the equally solid time keeping, bass, and equally powerful vocals (including the choruses) to make the song a strong, familiar approach that will keep listeners engaged and entertained.
The arrangement featured in ‘Force of Indifference,’ a late entry to the album, does just as much to show the power of the record’s musical arrangements. As with the album’s opener, this song boasts a clear Slayer influence alongside a more melodic power metal approach. The key to remember here is that while the noted influences are there, the song is not just a rehashing of ‘The Devil’s Symphony’ or any of the works that are presented between the two works. It is its own intense thrash composition that boasts its own power. Yes, the variances are subtle, but a close listen reveals them and in turn makes for plenty of appreciation for the song in whole.
‘Mors Ontologica,’ an even later entry to the album, is one more example of the importance of the album’s musical arrangements. The thrash element is just as prevalent here as in any of the album’s songs. In the case of this song though, the variance is more audible. In the case of this song, the Slayer influence is replaced more by a vintage Metallica/Megadeth influence alongside the band’s equally prevalent power metal stylistic approach. The result of the blending here is another unique work that will engage and entertain the band’s fans just as much as thrash fans in general. When this arrangement, the others examined here and the rest of the album’s musical content is considered together, the whole of the record’s musical side leaves no doubt as to its role in the album’s success. Even with all that the album’s musical arrangements do to keep the record appealing, they are only a part of what will engage and entertain the noted audiences. The record’s lyrical content adds its share of interest to its presentation.
Lyrically speaking, X touches on a variety of topics. From a social topic, such as that presented in ‘In Your Mind, to concerns about charitable giving in ‘Beggars in Black Suits,’ to religious fanaticism with Satanism in ‘The Devil’s Symphony,’ the album proves to cover a lot of ground. Front man Michael Bastholm said of ‘In Your Mind,’ that the song is “about the thoughts you have when you feel that the other person has an awfully specific assumption of you, which you know is wrong.” Everybody has been in this position at least once, meaning this message is accessible. The statement is made clear right from the song’s outset as Bastholm sings, “I guess it all makes sense/There is every proof and evidence/That all you think is true/That all is clear between me – me and you.” The cynicism and frustration which Bastholm noted in his statement is made fully clear here. Its clarity is increased in the song’s second verse, which finds Bastholm’s subject singing, “There is a need to be sure/You think there is a real good cure/To control under lock and key/To realize what makes – makes me, me.” The song’s third and fourth verses add even more to the discussion as they continue in similar fashion. All things considered, the song proves to be a work that will resonate with most listeners what with its relatable theme and presentation thereof.
‘Beggars in Black Suits’ takes on an equally real topic in the matter of knowing where one’s money goes when one makes charitable contributions. This is a very real topic, as the media has raised questions in recent years about how much money contributed to, say, The Salvation Army, actually goes to benefit the needy. Bastholm said of this song, “All these media persons and politicians beg us to pay for this or that cause, without us having any security that our money goes into the right pockets,” he said. “Often, we see this money end up in the wrong hands, and therefore the title, ‘Beggars In Black Suits.’” Just as with the case of ‘In Your Mind,’ the topic broached here is presented in a relatively accessible fashion. That is made clear in the song’s lead verse, which finds Bastholm singing, “You – hold your hands forth, honesty in your eyes/You – speak those soft words, all filled with lies.” The song’s second verse makes the statement just as clear, as Bastholm sings, “How – can you wear those honest, pleading caring eyes/When – all you want is for us, to believe your lies?” The song’s third and final verse puts the accent to the statement, as Bastholm sings, “Now – we really know you, despise you to the core/We – will make sure that you, shall be no more.” Again, reports have made their way through various media outlets in recent years questioning just how much money given to charities actually benefits the needy. This song voices the frustration that so many have felt when they learned that the money in question might not have gone to where they were led to believe it would go. It makes this song just as accessible for listeners as ‘In Your Mind’ while also showing even more, the variety in the album’s lyrical content.
Social concerns are just a portion of what Artillery takes on in its new album’s lyrical themes. The band also takes on religious fanaticism in ‘The Devil’s Symphony.’ According to Bastholm, while the song and its lyrics present a dark topic, it is not meant to make people think the band promotes Satanism. Rather, it is about “that almost exhilarating feeling of being against established convictions and beliefs. It is not a song about us being Satanic or anything like that, though.” The song examines that fervency by examining all the things that those types do, from using inverted crosses, to burning incense, to almost making the writings of Levay and others their theology. So on the surface, the song is an examination of the people who partake in the religion in question. On a deeper level, one could argue that it is just as much about people in general who are so fanatical about their given religion, but at the same time so uneducated. It is a truly unique way to approach a familiar rock and metal lyrical theme. To that point, the song proves to be one more example of the album’s varied lyrical themes and the overall importance of said content. To that end, this song, the others examined here join with the rest of the album’s lyrical themes to show clearly the importance of said content. Even with that in mind, there is still one more item to examine. That item is the album’s production.
The production of X is important because of its role in the album’s general effect. As has already been noted earlier, the musical arrangements featured in this album are everything that audiences have come to expect from the record. That means that they are rather intense from one song to the next. In other words, there is a lot going on, between the instruments, vocals, and other noted additions to the songs. The attention paid to every minute detail of each arrangement ensures that the songs are each expertly balanced. The result is that every song is fully engaging and entertaining in terms of its musical and lyrical content. The end result of that overall appeal is that listeners will agree X lives up to expectations and that it is among the best of this year’s new hard rock and metal albums.
Artillery’s new forthcoming album, X, is a solid new offering from the veteran thrash outfit. It is a presentation that shows the band is still looking to reach plenty of highs. Listeners will agree that the album is itself a new high for Artillery. That is proven in part through its musical arrangements. The record’s musical arrangements are everything that longtime fans have come to expect from Artillery, but are still original in terms of their sound from one to the next here. A close listen proves that true through the subtle differences heard in each song. The lyrical themes featured throughout the album are themselves important to the album’s presentation because of their varied topics and accessibility. The record’s production rounds out its most important elements, bringing everything together. This is done through the expert balance of every element in each arrangement. It ensures listeners’ engagement and entertainment in its own right. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make X another impressive offering from Artillery that is also among the best of this year’s new hard rock and metal albums. X is scheduled for release Friday.
More information on X is available online now along with all of Artillery’s latest news and more at:
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