Bolt Thrower
Those Once Loyal

Well finally after years of making pulverizing war metal Bolt Thrower have expanded their horizons adding ambient parts, tons of keyboards, female opera vocals and if you are believing any of this there is a bridge in Brooklyn I would like you to consider purchasing from me. Like war itself, the musical legacy of Bolt Thrower is brutal, glorious and endless and while sometimes the stratagies (stylistically) or armed forces personel (bandmembers) have changed, the methodology has remained militantly stagnant: the tanks roll, the shots ring out, the marches of boots pound the earth, the weak are crushed and the heroes remembered.

Reviewing Bolt Thrower at this point in their career is much akin to reviewing ACDC. I know whats coming, you know whats coming and I suppose the only ones who don’t get it are the young Johnny-got-his-gun-come-latelies for whom Bolt Thrower is often an overlooked classic band, not hailed quite as religiously as say Morbid Angel or Suffocation, but every bit as essential to truly understanding what pure death metal is. Bolt Thrower ’05 is a much matured beast, but no less a beast, delivering their ungodly heavy riffs with perhaps a little more spicing up in terms of guitar harmonies and easing the tempo’s down to a mid-pace on this album. Eyebrows might raise slighly at the Roots-era Sepultura groove of “The Killchain”, but the vast majority of tank-tread-tracks offered up here will be more than enough to make up for that, most notably the classic epic pacing of the title track, and the horn-raising solo in “Anti-Tank (Dead Armour)”. Besides those two specific moments, there is plenty of other classic (human) meat for all eras of the band’s fandom to sink their teeth into. The return of Karl Willets is quite welcome personally as he has always been in my mind the most fitting vocalist for the group, making up for a lack of rhythmic agility with a consistent and fierce growl that has aged quite well.

One thing that has constantly impressed me through the years is that despite the band’s left-ward leaning politics, they have never let outright condemnation of thier subject matter invade their lyric sheet, rather expressing their opposition by being objective and descriptive, rather than political and preachy about it. They prompt the listener not to accept or reject a specific message, but to meditate on war in both its horror and glory and come to their own conclusions about whether the use of force is a morally acceptable way to change the world. This neutral stance as it were is but one example of the integrity that will be just as large a part of this band’s legacy as their ability to make the most consistently unrelenting death metal that existed in the past or exists today. This needs no recommendation, number-score, or ‘for fans of’ nonsense. This is Bolt Thrower and thus, this means WAR. Own it or pose.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by John Gnesin
November 14th, 2005


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