Danes Artillery came to cement their place in the Euro metal Pantheon a few years later with albums like Terror Squad (1987) and 1990’s By Inheritance. But greatness doesn’t just happen – you have to start somewhere, and this new no-frills reissue from Dissonance reminds you (well, it did me), just what a strong starting point the band had to lift off from.
If 1986 can be said to be truly thrash’s year zero, the scene was still coalescing in ’85 with many bands still feeling their way to that classic thrash sound. Artillery were no different, and consequently large portions of Fear of Tomorrow sound merely like raw, but still pretty traditional, metal played a bit faster than normal, as on the excellent King, Thy Name is Slayer. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
However, perhaps unusually for a European band, Artillery had a knack of using the same sort of musical devices that American counterparts such as Slayer and Exodus were employing across the Atlantic, giving their music a darker and, dare I say it, more professional edge than many of their continental counterparts. The superb Show Your Hate being a case in point.
Vocalist Flemming Rönsdorf is another point of difference; Unlike many proto-thrash ‘singers’ Rönsdorf could really belt it out. His heavily-accented vocals might prompt thoughts of Germany’s Chris Boltendahl at times, but his use of hoarse shrieks and screams at the end of lines again gives his vocals an American feel, with Araya and Baloff, or perhaps Bobby Elsworth, coming to mind upon deeper inspection. But despite these comparisons, Rönsdorf was a pretty unique – and bloody good – vocalist who should really have received more kudos than he actually got.
Ditto the Stützer brothers, Michael and Morten. Both now play guitar in the band but in 1985 Morten was wielding the four string to good effect whilst Michael took the six. Both show plenty of promise on Fear of Tomorrow; When allowed by the at-times murky mix Morten’s bass contribution is a thunderous rumble with occasional flashes of melodic insight whilst Michael riffs throughout with conviction and a nice ear for the offbeat which has always set Artillery’s guitar assault apart. Far more so than many bands of this ilk at this time, Artillery already sound like the finished article.
There are some genuine early thrash classics on Fear of Tomorrow, and if you fancy yourself as a bit of a fan of the genre but aren’t particularly au fait with this band or their early work than Dissonance have afforded you the chance to put that right – they are also reissuing Terror Squad! – get down the record shop now!
Fear of Tomorrow is out on February 22nd.