Danish thrash titans Artillery are playing in Canberra. Tonight.

It’s mad, I know. It’s a conceit that would have been laughed out of court a decade ago by people who considered themselves ‘in the know’. But there we are. The people who brought you Terror Squad in the mid-eighties, when thrash was a dangerous, anti-social entity (thanks, NME), are here, in the Nation’s Capital on a Thursday night. In 2020.

Is this not a cause for celebration?

It is, but first we have to get through the support bands. Often times, this is a real task, but tonight there are no such problems. Both Taliesin and Mattersphere acquit themselves well, very well in respect to the latter name, not to say admirably. If you need a trad metal band to provide the choons for your upcoming family event both will discharge the task admirably; This kind of trad metal is often overlooked in Canberra in favour of heavier, more ‘current’ sounds when support acts are considered, but on the evidence of tonight’s performances no such caution is required with regard to these two acts. All class, all the time, basically…

And then we come to the headliners… I haven’t seen this band live for over thirty years (talking to guitarist Michael Stützer, pre-show in an interview you’ll get to read in full later, neither of us can quite remember where and when) but tonight none of that elapsed time matters as the band smash down the walls of memory and deliver a vital, pulsing set of thrash metal that is as old school as you like yet still possesses the sort of bite expected of acts half of Artillery’s age. This may well be the Face of Fear tour but the band tackle material from all through their career with equal aplomb and ferocity. Vocalist Michael Bastholm Dahl is at the heart of all that is good about this state of affairs; his gargantuan vocals add class to whatever material the band decides to offer up, whether it be the elemental thrash of old faves like Deeds of Darkness or the title track of the last album for which this tour has been named. Likewise, founding guitarist Stützer keeps up a battering tattoo stage left, providing the link to the bands material through the ages and onto the contemporary performance space. This band may well have performed some of Lars Ulrich‘s fave material in days gone by, but they don’t play on that fact in 2020, preferring to let today’s performance speak for itself. Which it does.

There are bigger names, yes. There are certainly more celebrated names. Some of them are coming to Australia this year. But few will thrash with the authenticity rustled up by Artillery tonight, so if you count yourself as a fan of ‘the thrash’ you’d best get yourself out and about and in a position to see this band on what’s left of their Aussie tour.

Artillery’s Australian tour continues through till Saturday before heading to New Zealand…