Friday, January 21, 2011

Review: Bolt Thrower - Those Once Loyal

Band: Bolt Thrower
Album: Those Once Loyal
Year: 2005
Genre: Death Metal

Having been together since 1986 Bolt Thrower have survived the ups and downs of the metal scene. And through all this time they have relatively retained their core sound, often times being called the AC/DC of Death Metal. It was with their 3rd album, War Master, that they found their niche within the Death Metal community.

Since 1991 they have ever so slightly tweaked their sound with each new album but never strayed off the beaten path. So what do we get here? We have thrashy Death Metal with guttural vocals that sound brutal as hell, yet Karl Willets is fully understandable. The bass is completely audible on every song adding a low end to the music that is crushing, and the guitars while fast are also melodic. But we're not talking twin leads and Iron Maiden worship here. The riffs are catchy and memorable while still being punishing. Drumming is nothing overly special, but it is well done and plays its part.

Those Once Loyal is great album and holds together well. It starts off with At First Light, the best song on the album for me. An acoustic piece begins the track but its a short build up to the start of the song. The riffs here are monstrous and the solos are fun. The chorus is very memorable both musically and lyrically/vocally. This is definitely a must to listen to!

A couple songs later we have The Killchain, a continuation of a few songs the band had done on previous albums. Starting with World Eater on Realm of Chaos, Cenotaph on War Master, Embers on The lVth Crusade, and Powder Burns on Mercenary, that continue this pattern of having the same intro and outro riff that is heavy as hell. This string of songs creating a sort of on going song which is kind of a fun idea they came up with.

Those Once Loyal, the title track is another good one. The chorus especially has a lot going for it but so does the rest of the song. The band slows it down through parts though it doesn't hinder the fluidity of it all.

Another thing is the lyrics as usual deal with warfare and destruction in its various forms. This album specifically deals with themes of the First World War, At First Light being about soldiers ordered out of their trenches and into battle, Those Once Loyal talking about “traitors” who are by some seen as heroes, and Anti-Tank (Dead Armour) speaking of as the name suggests, tank warfare and things of the sort.

I wont go through every song because its just not necessary, they are all excellent! I have to say the band has succeeded in creating an album chock full of groovy masterfully crafted riffs. I love the fact that unlike a lot of bands Bolt Thrower decided not to mix the bass out of the album. In fact its mixed almost evenly with the rest of the music which shows their confidence in the skills of Jo Bench (who is also considered one of the first females to play in an extreme metal band).

This probably will go down as the bands best album and unfortunately, probably their last. They were so pleased with how TOL turned out that they didn’t feel they could surpass it so they decided to not even make another album. With an entire discography dedicated to the topic of warfare and a distinguished sound Bolt Thrower are going to go down as one of the less significant but most loved bands in Death Metal and its great of them to go out with a bang.

Score: 9/10
Standout Track: At First Light

No comments: