Bolt Thrower - Those Once Loyal - 2005 - Metal Blade
1. At First Light 2. Entrenched 3. The Killchain 4. Granite Wall 5. Those Once Loyal 6. Anti-Tank (Dead Armour) 7. Last Stand Of Humanity 8. Salvo 9. When Cannons Fade 10. A Symbol Of Eight (Bonus)
You just have to love those early death metal volunteers, those recruits that sign up for life, playing hard, dying hard, all for the great crusade, the great quest to venture forth and conquer new lands. Bolt Thrower is closing in on a twenty year career, a long lifespan for a death metal act. Even more impressive is that the group is indeed a tight unit, only going through TWO lineup changes during their career. One of those lineup changes was vocalist Karl Willets, who departed from the band in 1998. His replacement was another death metal pioneer, Dave Ingram (known for his work with Benediction), who came on board in 2001 for one album, "Honour Valour Pride" and a few tours. In 2002 Ingram had to leave the band due to family commitments. The first one to reinstate back into the force? Karl Willets. The original vocalist who has managed to record on every 'Thrower album other than "Honour Valour Pride". It's good to have you back on the lines Karl!
After a four year absence Bolt Thrower pick up right where they left off, delivering top notch, genre leading material that is both traditional and enduring to the band's roots and future growth. They do what most bands feel is bad or somewhat "unfair", they simply stick to their guns and deliver the same sound that they have enjoyed for close to twenty years. It has worked thus far, establishing Bolt Thrower as one of the most successful death acts of all time. They have worked for their position on the ladder through dedication, hard work, and an internal intensity to strive for the gold, always putting it all on the line for their fans and for themselves. For that I applaud them. In the meantime we get quality releases like "Mercenary", "Warmaster", "For Victory", and now..."Those Once Loyal".
Once again the band finds themselves on Metal Blade Records, enjoying a seven year tenure with the label after spending five years with Earache. As time goes by the group continue to put out outstanding albums, each punctuated by the group's driving rhythm, guttural growls, and unique timing changes. Add in a large amount of fantastic lead work and you get a band worthy of being called a pioneer. Here fans of the band will find those same attributes, enhanced by groove oriented stomps like "The Killchain" and "Granite Wall". Fans of the speedy sensations will romp with opener "At First Light", as well as speedy rippers like "Last Stand Of Humanity". The group also throws in their occasional moody numbers, with the title track being a good representation of that particular facet of Bolt Thrower. Fans of the band should find the songwriting no surprise, each cut here wrapped up in tales of combat and war, with plenty of room for honor and tribute to the battlefield's fallen ones. The band went back to Sable Rose Studio in England to record this album, the same place that "Honour Valour Pride" was recorded. The group decided to have the same producer of the previous album, Andy Faulkner, turn the knobs for this effort as well.
Bottom Line - Bolt Thrower continue their legacy, with "Those Once Loyal", a monumental death metal album and one that will please long time fans of the band and encourage new faces to join their legions. A must have!
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has served as senior editor for MaximumMetal.com for nearly 10 years and is the author of the heavy metal book series--Denim & Letters. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia.
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