Wow, what a hammer. With "Mercenary" BOLT THROWER have released the best Death Metal-album of the year 1998. After the rather monotonous, but not necessarily weaker previous albums, "Mercenary" just has the right variability in there. Had melodies earlier been rather scarce with BOLT THROWER, they are masterly woven into the usually brutal songs.
Thanks to these melodies the songs are a lot catchier than before and that is a big plus in my opinion. Also speed-wise they have changed something, they are no longer are thundering straight through their compositions, but vary the rhythms with well integrated breaks.
Songs like the opener "Zeroed" or "No Guts, No Glory" are uncompromising, straight-forward Death-attacks, while the title-track "Mercenary" and the excellent "Powder Burns" are examples for the already mentioned variability, here we have more powerful grooves. Above all songs hover the mighty grunts of Karl Willets. He manages, more than his predecessor, to leave his own powerful imprint on the compositions, while the guitar-duo Thomson/Ward is giving us the full guitar-wall. Almost each song contains a killer-riff. Another plus of the album is the very good sound, something we had not been used to in the past of BOLT THROWER. Each instrument has its clearly audible place, but this does in no way mean that the production were too polished, the songs still have the necessary roughness and crunch to them.v Lyrically, just like on all the other BOLT THROWER-albums, they again have taken on the topic of war and its terror. Song-wise BOLT THROWER without many doubts have delivered their strongest album to date, there are no fillers, while "Zeroed" or "No Guts, No Glory" are real killers and should be live-favourites by now. Besides the nine killer-songs the very nice DigiPak-version contains a hidden bonus-track, but unfortunately it doesn't state the title anywhere...
As Deathhead you should not pass by this album, but also folks, who always had thought BOLT THROWER too monotonous should risk an ear, it's worth it!
Checkout-tips: "No Guts, No Glory", "Powder Burns" and "Zeroed"