ARTILLERY are the latest in a long line of ‘classic’ thrash bands to return with new music. Some of these efforts have been excellent metal albums more than able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the best of modern metal (see: KREATOR.) Some of it has, frankly, been downright awful (see: MEGADETH’S Super Collider.) What it comes down to is that if you’re going to be releasing new music it really does need to hold up in quality next to current metal bands. ARTILLERY’S latest release Penalty by Perception doesn’t quite do that. But it’s not memorable enough to go down in history as a glorious failure either. It’s just a bit middle of the road.
By far the most impressive aspect to Penalty… is the guitar work. Michael and Morten Stutzer more than pull their weight and hold together what could have been a pretty lacking effort otherwise. Their guitar work provides the signature thrash crunch while also retaining a certain amount of classic metal meat to the riffing. It’s certainly an impressive performance with opener In Defiance of Conformity kicking off at a fair old pace. Sin of Innocence is another of the innumerable examples on Penalty.. where the album is held together by the excellent guitar work.
Partly, this is down to the production. Soren Anderson does a fantastic job in making the band sound both modern yet also exciting. There’s a real meat to the riffing as has already been mentioned, yet while also retaining the classic thrash crunch and this is due in a great part to Anderson and his excellent work on the production of Penalty by Perception.
Unfortunately, there are a number of crucial weak links. For a start, there are no great standout moments. Competent though it is, every album needs its standout moments and Penalty of Perception has precious few beyond the unintentionally hilarious ballad When the Magic is Gone which combines what can only be described as a cheesy, piano-led metal power ballad with some pretty hamfisted lyrical content. There just aren’t the great songs that great albums need. Furthermore, singer Michael Bastholm-Dahl is a huge weak link in the album. Much of the excellent work done by the Stutzers simply isn’t backed up by the vocals which lack the aggression absolutely inherent to propelling the adrenaline fuelled riffing of the greatest thrash metal. Instead, the hooks just sound bloated and undeveloped without any edge to them.
Penalty by Perception then, has its positives but, as a body of work is a fairly forgettable collection of songs. A good production and twin guitar attack is largely let down by poor vocals and a lack of standout songs. It’s not Super Collider terrible. Penalty by Perception isn’t memorable enough to be terrible. It is simply an album that will, justifiably, be forgotten about within six months, long before end of the year lists roll around.
Penalty By Perception is set for release on March 25th via Metal Blade Records.