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The Face Of Fear

Denmark Country of Origin: Denmark

1. The Face Of Fear
2. Crossroads To Conspiracy
3. New Rage
4. Sworn Utopia
5. Through The Ages Of Atrocity
6. Thirst For The Worst
7. Pain
8. Under Water
9. Preaching To The Converted
10. Mind Of No Return
11. Doctor Evil

Review by Felix on November 4, 2021.

Tashkent/Khomaniac riff, 12th variation. This was my first thought when I listened to the title track and opener of The Face of Fear. Well, even though the use of the word “fear” could have been seen as an indication of a back to the roots approach (remember the debut Fear Of Tomorrow and the first line of 'The Challenge', the opener of Terror Squad), I had not expected the return to brutalized, dark thrash. For once, I was correct. The Danish veterans delivered an album that continued the way of proceeding which had made Penalty By Perception to a great record. No bad idea! The Face Of Fear needed more spins than its predecessor to grow on me, but it’s definitely a good release, too. Of course, today it has a special feature, because it turned out to be the farewell album of Morten Stützer. R.I.P., you are not forgotten.

The nine plus two songs surf at the interface of thrash and power metal. Some melodic guitar lines and the clean, charismatic and competently used voice of Michael Bastholm Dahl are important elements here, but a fundamental heaviness is not missing as well. The dynamic 'Crossroads To Conspiracy', written by Morten, gives full speed ahead and breaks some necks. The same can be said about the title track with its characteristic drum patterns. But the more emotional side that Artillery discovered one day after the first two full-lengths also shows up. And, as always, the musicians avoid any form of cheesy or saccharine lines. No doubt, the core of the band consists of pure metal and this element shimmers though all of their songs. That’s maybe the main reason why even the pretty catchy, softly starting 'New Rage' houses some double bass supported parts. Apart from this fact, the songs – the furious ones as well as the more harmonic ones – benefit from the band’s admirable feeling for expressive, elegant melodies. True connoisseurs of the subject just know the rules of the game. Only in rare moments, a guitar line is going nowhere. The chorus of the actually crisp 'Sworn Utopia' lacks direction, but well, nobody is perfect.

Whenever it comes to an Artillery album, there is one thing I really like. The guys do not enter the stage with a new work that gets weaker from song to song. Okay, I don’t understand why it was necessary to record the bloodless intermezzo 'Under Water'. Honestly speaking, it should have stayed exactly there. But the complete songs on the less prominent positions do not stand in the shadow of the pieces at the beginning. 'Thirst For The Worst', for example, presents flattening guitars, parts that seamlessly interlock and intelligent, nearly poetic lyrics about the difficult relationship between mankind and planet earth. The song has no apocalyptic flair, but it paints a sinister picture. Also 'Pain', whose first notes walk on the edge of triviality, gains class from the first chorus on. Admittedly, the lyrics here seem a bit stale ("Pain, pain, it drives me insane"), but at the latest the instrumental part gives the piece power and expression.

Finally, typical Artillery trademarks are not missing. Both a powerful production and a few guitar lines with an oriental touch help to form a sparkling record. The Danish legend is simply a band that consists of experienced, competent and honest dudes and so it comes as no surprise that the thunderous closer of the regular album also hits the mark. Even the bonus section does not sound like ordinary outtakes. The two songs are more or less on an equal footing with the new material of The Face Of Fear. Having said this, things are easy. Everybody with a heart for mid-harsh, cleverly arranged thrash can and should enjoy the album – even if you are not in Tashkent at the moment.

Rating: 7.8 out of 10

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