Interview with guitarists Michael and Morten Stützer | By Nick Harrah
It’s been roughly 30 years since Danish thrash metal progenitors Artillery released albums like Fear of Tomorrow and Terror Squad to critical acclaim, touring with bands like Slayer and King Diamond.
After enduring as many lineups as they had labels, as well as long periods of dormancy as if the band were some Scandinavian volcano, brothers and founding members, guitarists Michael and Morten Stützer, say they are stoked for not only Artillery’s latest 11 song barrage, Penalty by Perception – out March 25 on Metal Blade Records – but also for making music, touring, and sharing the excitement with their fans. “We can hardly wait to present the new album to the fans,” Michael admits of Artillery’s eighth album and fourth since 2009. “So far, the critics and those who had heard it have given us amazing support.”
Now fronted by singer Michael Bastholm Dahl, powered by the rhythm section battery of bassist Peter Thorslund and drummer Josua Madsen, the band are teasing the new release with the songs “In Defiance of Conformity” and “Live by the Scythe.” The brothers say they think they’re at the top of their technical, melodic, brutal metal game. “Many things have changed, but also many things are the same,” Morten says. “It’s a lot easier these days to get gigs. There are many more promoters nowadays and many more venues and many more festivals, both small and big. A lot more albums are published, and it’s easier to get them out. However, the audience hasn’t changed that much—you’ll still see the denim jackets full of patches and the black t-shirts and boots.”
“For the band’s situation, it’s different now,” he continues. “In the old days, we spent most time rehearsing, but nowadays, more time is spent on the road and in the studio, which is, I think, the better way. I think our last four albums is a result of this, and I think that our recent lineup somehow is the most complete so far regarding skill and enthusiasm.”
Penalty by Perception is the band’s fourth album produced by Søren Andersen at Medley Studios in Copenhagen, and the second with Artillery’s current lineup. Morten admits that he thinks Artillery, with a cohesive lineup and label support, can and do stand out in the crowded metal sea of 2016. “Somehow, metal is better nowadays, at least seen from a technical view,” he asserts. “Album productions and live performances are much better today than they were in the ‘80s. Unfortunately, there’s not much new under the sun. There really are no standout new bands, like we had in the old days when we had bands like Metallica, Savatage, Slayer, Exodus, and the likes. I think there’s too many death metal bands that sound too similar and use the same kind of gimmicks. I don’t mention any names. So, all in all, better musicianship, but less originality.”
Michael says it’s the fans—old and new—who fuel Artillery’s fire. “I think we have a great relationship with both our old and new fans,” he says. “We have fans who have followed us since the early ‘80s now coming to our shows with their sons and daughters. On the other hand, it’s great having new and some very young fans who were not even born when we released Fear of Tomorrow now coming to the shows and knowing all our songs.”
“We are very grateful for the support,” he concludes. “This is really something that makes it easy to keep us going. I don’t think that anybody—band members or fans—would have expected that the ‘adventure’ would last more than 30 years!”
Penalty by Perception will be released March 25 and is available for pre-order at metalblade.com/artillery.
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