Bolt Thrower


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If Bolt Thrower were composed of five paraplegic midgets, they'd still be able to kick our asses. If they were forced to perform live with no instruments, they'd still ram our heads right through the nearest wall while slapping desks, twanging rubber bands and growling along to Bench's improvised ass-blaster basslines.

Bolt Thrower exist to kick our asses, and as we head 'into the killing zone' with Mercenary, they succeed admirably. Although all of Bolt Thrower's albums (and indeed songs) after Realm of Chaos share a very homogenous style, something about Mercenary just sounds like the artillery of Bolt Thrower greased, loaded, aimed, and firing on all fucking cylinders. The production is second-to-none; gone are the thin Scott Burns-like buzzing guitars wafting all over Warmaster and IVth Crusade. Gone is the super-slick, punishingly heavy and almost characterless sound on For Victory. Mercenary grooves along between those two with a warm, bottom heavy furnace of guitar roarings; bubbling, clear bass; punchy, concise drum hits; and the storm of Willets' growls nestling into the guitars: not overthrowing them. It is a sound that is both clear and heavy, yet just raw enough to feel like it's got some real balls to it.

Sound is nothing without the music, but Bolt Thrower cannot disappoint on this album. If it wasn't for Realm of Chaos, this would easily be Bolt Thrower's best collection of songs in terms of sheer riffage and malevolence, and is certainly the best example of their pure death metal style now. A fine variation of tempos are catered-for, with slow numbers like Return From Chaos and Mercenary being lumbering but not redundant or pedestrian; the former instead conjuring some of the best Bolt Thrower opening chug since World Eater, the latter offering sinister mood-setting melody as it works its way into that grandiose, piston-driven engine kind of a song we know Bolt Thrower have perfected. On this album seemingly not a band to relax on the trodden path, they speed things-up with some of Bolt Thrower's best loved scorchers; Powder Burns and No Guts, No Glory blaze with aggressive, fast, yet chunky riffs and excitable soloing; their quality attested-to by their being live staples, and forced to stay there by fan requests!

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