Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Artillery - One Foot in the Grave, the Other One in the Trash (2009)

2009 was a great year for Denmark's Artillery, as they would release a successful, 'second reunion' album with new vocalist Søren Nico Adamsen, and step past the early criticism that this choice had manifest. In addition, also through their deal with Metal Mind, they released a live DVD + CD called One Foot in the Grave, the Other One in the Trash, a play on their (admittedly generic) 90s reaper mascot and their cult 'Trash' songs. I'm reviewing here the audio component of this package, which has the same set list as the DVD, recorded at the Metalmania Festival 2008, in Katowice, Poland. As with the new studio album, When Death Comes, the band's great rhythm section of Carsten Nielsen and Peter Thorslund is back in place here. So, 4/5 of the By Inheritance lineup.

But that one omission is felt rather strongly in this set, because while Adamsen is a decent match for the new studio fare, he sounds incredibly lackluster over the band's older material. The set does a good job of drawing on all the band's past sources, from classics like "Terror Squad", "The Challenge", "Time Has Come", and "Out of the Sky" to the By Inheritance material: "Beneath the Clay (R.I.P.)", "Khomaniac" and "By Inheritance", but sadly the vocals make them feel like a mere cover band, as he approaches them without the enthusiasm that Flemming Ronsdorf once owned in excess. He puts a little more energy behind the By Inheritance selections, granted, and his more aggressive vocals are far better than the sullen, generic wailing he inhabits for most of the lines, but really you could have grabbed any random power metal singer and gotten equal or better results. He also sounds pretty cheesy on "Cybermind", the one track the band have included from B.A.C.K. One has to question the wisdom of the track list. Surely, all of the rabid Artillery fans at the gig wanted to hear classic material, but why was nothing included from the forthcoming album, where Adamsen soars? Had they just not written any of it by this point? Could Rønsdorf not have just come out for the one gig?

Sadly, this is crippling to the performance, too difficult to overcome. The rest of the band possess the adequate energy to pull off the set without stumbling, and its curious to finally hear these two amazing guitarists perform their busy material on a stage. The bass and drums sound good, but the guitars themselves are often a little difficult to pull out of the mix, and this only lends to the leeching enthusiasm I feel from the vocals. With the DVD, you obviously get the added perk of seeing the band flail about on stage, but as its Artillery and they've got a lot of complexity, they're understandably not tornadoes of energy. Ultimately, I feel the package is pretty weak and easily passed upon, whereas When Death Comes deserves an immediate purchase, with the band in fine form (including Adamsen). Buy that. Skip this.

Verdict: Fail [4.5/10]


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