The state of modern thrash in 2016, it could almost now be considered heritage music. A classic staple of metal’s arsenal since the early 80’s, it’s as quintessential to form as fire to flame. Since 1982 Artillery have been firing away, spitting out seven albums, an EP and given Dave Mustaine a run for his money in who can chew up and spit out the most members whilst still be under the same guise.
‘Penalty By Perception’ is by all means a classically driven thrash metal album with the modern touches of what makes bands like Kreator and Testament rampantly exciting live. Opening track “In Defiance Of Conformity” lights up with buzz-saw 5150’s and obnoxiously loud d-beat drums that amalgamate to create a mix that attacks with all the furore of a galloping army of horses.
The continuing pace is relentless as we pound through “Live By The Scythe” all the way up to “Sin Of Innocence”. There’s little personal character to distinguish each song from one another, all being very much in the mid to high paced thrash tempo. We are then treated to an absolute cheese feast as the Gorgonzola is served in the way of gentle piano arpeggios and harmony guitars that begin the ballad that is “When The Magic Is Gone”. Its an appropriately named track considering the content but a necessary evil that halts any hint of stagnation and allows “Cosmic Brain” to kick in with a thunderous roar.
The Dream Evilesqu “Deity Machine” fires in next with a funky triplet feel. Vocalist Michael Dahl’s Belladonna meets LaBrie vocals are incredibly strong here, having always opted for melody over brutality and is perhaps the shining force across the album. “Welcome To The Mindfactory” closes the album off and for me is the strongest track. The Powerslave era Iron Maiden, meets early Annihilator creates an intriguing and groovy stomp. The technicality from the band is strongly brought to the forefront and leaves me wishing that every song on the album was injected with such a high level of detail and stylistic flair.
Although having never been projected to the dizzying heights of some of their 80’s counterparts, Artillery have long been a strong tour de force on the metal circuit. ‘Penalty By Perception’ may not be as creatively intuitive as ‘Fear Of Tomorrow II’, but to still be pushing to template over thirty years later is quite an achievement. Whilst certain bands have been circle jerking over their next release for years now, Artillery have been firing away albums with panache and fortitude whilst continuously evolving their modern style and while they may not be as big, they may well be as great.