Bolt Thrower has been releasing albums since 1988. Their latest (no.8) is titled Those Once Loyal. The death metal quintet is currently signed to Metal Blade Records and will be touring Europe in April. Bolt Thrower have been death metal heavyweights for years now, and have gigged with others like them including Napalm Death, and Morbid Angel.
The music on the 39 minute Those Once Loyal receives 3 ½ out of 5. All songs are straightforward death metal (European style). They are well written, and follow a general war theme (as many death metal albums/songs do). Heavy energetic groove riffs are played with growling vocals and double kick drumming. There are of course lots of fast strumming riffs and breakdowns. It was nice that they did not over do the solos; they are not in every song, but are very unique when they appear.
All nine songs are fun and well written, but Bolt Thrower appears to have no interest in making more progressive music. For this reason Those Once Loyal is another death metal album amongst many with little to put it apart from the others. Because the genre has been around for a while there are many talented musicians playing the style. A band needs to have an edge of some kind in order to stand above the rest.
The sound quality of this album gets 1½ out of 2. For the most part appropriate timbres and tones are used on Those Once Loyal, and they are well mixed and leveled. However, in many songs the bass guitar has a very piercing high ranged tone that reduces the overall heaviness of the tracks. The bass in this type of music should be reinforcing the low end, not sticking out like a guitar solo. Other than this everything is fine, the guitars have a nice European style distortion, and the vocals are at a good volume.
For the physical attributes of the CD Bolt Thrower gets 1 out of 1. The theme of war and fallen soldiers is maintained throughout the easy to read straightforward booklet. Lyrics are shown as written upon memorial plaques, and famous statues are shown. The most creative part of the insert is the second last page, where instead of a picture of the band, there is a picture of a statue of five soldiers standing in formation.
For considerations specific to the band, Bolt Thrower and Those Once Loyal receive 1 out of 2. For lasting as long as they have while producing quality music gains them a mark. This is even more impressive knowing that the band has gone through multiple line up changes during crucial stages in their history (recordings, major label signings, etc). Bolt Thrower is a household name to all death metal fans.
For being musicians as long as they have and to not try to do something different or progressive costs them a mark. Bolt Thrower has a solid fan base (especially in Europe) and they likely do not want to disrupt it. This is a sound concept for businessmen; stick with what works, but as artists there should a greater desire for creativity and the advancement of artistic ideas/concepts.
With a final rating of 7 out of 10, Those Once Loyal is an album worth buying if you enjoy death metal. The songs are well written and fun to listen to. Bolt Thrower has proven that they will be around for a while, but there is little difference between this album and any other well made death metal record. [ END ]
01. At First Light
03. The Killchain
04. Granite Wall
05. Those Once Loyal
06. Anti-Tank (Dead Armour)
07. Last Stand Of Humanity
09. When Cannons Fade
Run Time: 39:34
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