Bolt Thrower – Those Once Loyal (CD)

Twenty years is a long time for a band. Bolt Thrower has been around 1986, and they play a classic brand of metal that meshes together growling vocals with virtuosic guitars. The tracks all hover around a manageable length (three to four minutes) and it is rare to be given anything resembling a break during “Those Once Loyal”.

Heaviness is their middle name, and the cohesion that they enjoy on “Those Once Loyal” is a hallmark to the fact that they do not rest on their laurels. Some of the guitar progressions on tracks like “Salvo” are a slight bit on the worn side of things, but one has to consider that they have been the band’s bread and butter for a number of years. What really is a plus for Bolt Thrower is the dramatic content of each track here on “Those Once Loyal”; the minor derivations in the sound between tracks tell a story much more richly than even a mostly-vocal style (think “Trapped in the Closet”) could ever do. Never once deviating into a progressive metal, full of pomp and BS type of track during the disc, the disc is perfect fodder for road trips or exercise. By stacking the disc’s two longest tracks at the end of the disc, Bolt Thrower has ensured that listeners will not tire and get hung up early on; this consideration allows Bolt Thrower to pander themselves more successfully than any band that sticks a six or seven minute turd early on in their disc.

Incorporating a Middle Eastern type of arrangement for their ultimate “When Cannons Fade”, Bolt Thrower almost calls forth “Lucretia-era” Megadeth, although not sounding as dated as “Rust In Peace”. The disc holds onto a high replay value; even on the third or fourth listening, the range of guitar and drum sounds bristle with freshness. Instead of the more wanky-based rock virtuosos like Stevie Ray and Yngwie, Bolt Thrower actually couch their tremendous guitar outputs in the larger context of the tracks in which they reside. This only adds onto the bands sense of cohesion, and makes such heady beasts much easier to swallow. Most bands that have been around for twenty years do not contain the same type of intensity that marked the beginning of their careers; Bolt Thrower (if one can believe this) actually puts forth more energy than on previous releases. This means that “Those Once Loyal” is an album that never quits rocking.

Top Tracks: Entrenched, The Killchain

Rating: 6.2/10

Bolt Thrower – Those Once Loyal / 2005 Metal Blade / 9 Tracks / http://www.boltthrower.com / http://www.metalblade.com / Reviewed 19 November 2005

[JMcQ]

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