“War, what it is it good for, absolutely nothing”. I don’t know about our readers here at TMO but I’ve heard the song were these words are sung. I want the author of that lyric to modify it a bit, for without war there would be no BOLT THROWER. According to their home page they have thirteen releases so far and war has been the topic all the time. This wouldn’t be any impressive if they weren’t able to release good music, needless to say that is what they have been doing most of the time. I haven’t heard all of their albums but of those I’ve heard only “Honour, Valour, Pride” has been a let down and that’s because Karl Willets wasn’t the man behind the microphone. Dave Ingram did the vocals on that release, a vocalist I’ve never liked. For those who didn’t know Dave Ingram has done some records with another Death Metal band from Great Britain, BENEDICTION is their name.
“Those Once Loyal” begins with the sounds of something that I assume is called a war horn (Something close to that anyway). I know the Vikings used horns of different kinds to signal that battle was approaching. In their (our) belief it is said that Heimdal shall blow a horn called Gjallarhorn when Ragnarok is upon us. Since our site isn’t called “The History Observer” I guess I should start writing some words about the music. After the intro is over we are treated with trademarked BOLT THROWER Metal, those who never liked the band would most likely dislike “Those Once Loyal” as well. For those unfamiliar with the band I can say that this is Death Metal without blast beats (This one is for you Alex), instead they use double bass kicks to ensure that the music is intense anyhow. To explain what is unique about BOLT THROWER is kind of hard, partly because English isn’t my mother tongue and partly because it is hard to explain something when you haven’t got anything to compare it to. Fortunately there comes a link with this review that lets you download the excellent song “The Killchain”. If you need some more convincing you should try out “Entrenched” as well.
What I like most with “Those Once Loyal” is the pounding sound it has, this is heavy Metal. I don’t want to make a big point out of the fact that they have a woman playing the bass guitar, but one can’t ignore Jo Bench. Unlike most Death Metal bands you can actually hear the bass guitar when listening to BOLT THROWER and that is a big plus. On top of that Jo Bench plays the damned instrument very well, Death Metal bands of the world take notice. I don’t know why so many Metal bands bury the bass guitar deep in the mix and neither does BOLT THROWER.
“Those Once Loyal” holds high quality all the way through but I found some personal favourites anyway. Those favourites are “The Killchain”, “Those Once Loyal” and “Last Stand of Humanity”; these songs are three good reasons for starting to like Death Metal, thank you BOLT THROWER. Those who claim that Death Metal vocals are just about screaming and growling with no purpose should take a listen to Karl Willets, if you think the same afterwards then you’re an ignorant bastard.
Next year will see BOLT THROWER celebrate their 20th anniversary, quite a task. Unlike SLAYER and METALLICA who both have done their best, BOLT THROWER’s machinery still functions like never before, that is the real feat here. If mid tempo Death Metal is your thing skip SIX FEET UNDER, BOLT THROWER is the real deal! (Online January 27, 2006)