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Artillery “Raw Live” Album Review by Curtis J. Dupree

Artillery band members

Live albums are a tricky business. If the live versions sound just like the studio versions, then it’s hard to justify listening to the live versions over their studio counterparts. However, if the band deviates too radically from their studio selves it can often sound sloppy. Sometimes such deviation is done right—one only need think of Made in Japan, for example. But sometimes what a live album needs is not great deviation, but a certain level of energy and conviction. We can find that energy and conviction on Artillery’s latest live offering. 

Thrash metal is one of my favorite genres, but trash metal live can be a challenge. The music is often played with such speed and aggression—and sometimes technicality—that capturing the same thing live in a way that does not just sound like muddled noise is not a guarantee. However, I’m thankful to announce that Artillery manages to keep the speed, aggression, and technicality of their albums shining through on these live versions. The musicianship is every bit as high as one would expect from Artillery, and Michael Bastholm Dahl’s vocals ride on top of everything with power and melody, although sometimes the lyrics are a bit hard to decipher. The band throws riff after delicious riff at the listener and most of the time the riffs are easy to distinguish despite the nature of a live recording. The sound is heavy and live, but still mostly clear. 

The band thankfully keeps speaking between songs to a minimum. We also get an appropriate level of crowd noise that helps us feel like we are present at the show, but without such noise being overwhelming.

If I could use one word to describe Raw Live, it would be power. Artillery is a powerful band, writing killer riffs and melodies and delivering them with both precision and conviction. That being said, if anyone hates live albums, they best give this one a miss. But if you enjoy live albums—and you’re an Artillery fan or a thrash fan in general—then definitely give this one a spin.

The band unfortunately begins with what, in this reviewer’s opinion, is one of their weaker songs. “The Devil’s Symphony” (from X) gets down to business quickly, and it is pretty catchy, but the lyrics leave a lot to be desired. Frankly, such satanic posturing seems beneath a band as experienced and as capable of sophistication as Artillery

Things improve dramatically with the title track from By Inheritance. The original album is one of the best thrash albums ever made and this version does the song justice. Dahl nails the vocal performance even if he sings it slightly different than Fleming Rönsdorf did on the original. This is a great song all around. 

Turn up the Rage,” also from X, leans towards the melodic and catchy, and it excels at both. I especially love the melodic guitar lines in the song. 

Artillery increases the speed with “The Face of Fear.” This song was originally found on the album of the same name. Despite the increase in speed, the song is quite memorable. Dahl adds some humor to the song at the end. 

Going back to the classic By Inheritance we find “Bombfood.” While lyrically the song comes across as a more blunt “Disposable Heroes,” musically the song is downright infectious with great riffing and a strong melody. You can hear Artillery’s excellent rhythm section really well on this tune. Dahl sings the song very well, even if a bit differently than Rönsdorf did. I was really glad to get three songs from By Inheritance on this album and the band chose these songs well. 

Going back even further into their early days, Artillery proceeds with “The Challenge” from Terror Squad. This song is best described as classic thrash. The riffs are still mostly intelligible despite the speed. The song is not quite as melodic or immediately catchy as most others here, but it simply rages. 

In Thrash We Trust” from X follows. The song features killer riffs and an effectively forceful chorus. 

Next is “10,000 Devils” from When Death Comes. This song is on the slower and more melodic end of the spectrum, while still being heavy. The tune features a killer groove to it. 

The title track from Legions follows and is a riff-lover’s dream. The prechorus riff is especially awesome, and the chorus is catchy. The bridge is also killer, with a propulsive rhythm and riff. 

We journey back once more to By Inheritance for one of Artillery’s greatest songs—“Khomaniac.” The band performs this thrasher well, and Dahl sings it well, even if you can’t help but miss the higher-pitched vocals on the chorus. There is a nice touch of bass work on this song that stands out and the drums are powerful. Artillery utilizes some nice crowd participation in this song. 

Finally, “Terror Squad” (from the album of the same name) concludes the set. The song kicks in hard with a classic thrash sound. The riffs are pounding and the song is mid-paced, but hard-hitting. There is a good use of gang vocals present. 

Reviewing live albums is tricky because to a large degree one’s enjoyment will depend on how much one enjoys live albums in the first place. For this reviewer, live albums are rarely a go-to, but a good one is appreciated. Raw Live is definitely a good one. The sound quality is excellent, maintaining the live feel without becoming too muddied. The band is tight and Dahl’s vocals are powerful. If you’re an Artillery fan, or just a thrash fan in general, then by all means give Raw Live a listen, especially if you enjoy live albums. 

Reviewer rating: 8/10

Pre order here: https://targetshop.dk/artillery

Artillery album cover

TRACKLISTING:

  1. The Devils Symphony
  2. By Inheritance
  3. Turn Up The Rage
  4. The Face Of Fear
  5. Bombfood
  6. The Challenge
  7. In Thrash We Trust
  8. 10.000 Devils
  9. Legions
  10. Khomaniac
  11. Terror Squad

Recording lineup:

Michael Bastholm Dahl – vocals
Michael Stützer – lead guitars
Peter Thorslund – bass
Kraen Meier – lead guitars
Josua Madsen – drums

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