Armed to the teeth with more riffs than you can shake a Howitzer at, Danish thrashers Artillery return with X (Metal Blade Records), their self-explanatory and succinctly titled tenth album. Sadly, guitarist Morten Stützer, brother of fellow founder member and co-guitarist Michael Stützer, passed away in 2019 meaning the band were forced into a change in personnel. His replacement, Sacrificial axeman Kræn Meier, pulls off an excellent job under the darkest of circumstances and this latest record stands as one of their strongest to date.
It has only been a couple of years since occult inspired Swedish heavy metal band Ghost BC rocketed out of obscurity and cast their shadow over any similarly aspiring band in occult rock. It seems that Ancient VVisdom have also found themselves under the influence of the Swedish titans with their latest LP, Sacrificial (Magic Bullet). While the music remains largely unaltered from previous work, it’s Nathan Opposition’s vocals that have a distinct twist of Papa Emeritus to them in this release. The harsher edges and ominous harmonies have been replaced by soft reverb-doused phrasing and while the difference may be subtle, it’s unmistakable.
Opening up with an acoustic intro, Ancient VVisdom carry through the distinctly organic sound from older work. Contrasting this, the distorted guitars in Sacrificial lean heavily on chugging for many of the riffs, which although not entirely well integrated does add a satisfying drive that previous albums lacked. Many of the riffs and choruses retain a similar format, however the songs themselves do still seem to offer some surprises with ‘Blood Offering’ and ‘Devils Work’ throwing the listener into some mid-tempo riffing, while ‘I am your Sacrifice’ presents a Megadeth-esque bass intro.
Both enticing and enchanting Sacrificial captures the listener with its satisfying mixture of heaviness and melody. While the sound has certainly taken a stronger step towards the most traditional occult metal style, this record has proved it is certainly not a bad move from the band. With strong riffs, a great mix and catchy vocal melodies, Sacrificial would have the Devil himself tapping away to the odd track.
While it could never be described as a masterpiece, it is a very welcome addition to any car stereo or downtime playlist.