Released: 2001, Metal Blade
Reviewer: El Cid
MERCENARY (as I’m sure some of you guys know) hit home with me. I couldn’t stop spinning that CD for a long time, I loved everything about it and I was pretty sure Bolt Thrower’s next album would not top it. Well, I’m more than happy to admit that I was wrong. Wrong, Wrong Wrong! I was WRONG.
One of the major fears I had was the fact that the band was switching growlers, Karl Willets, who had been doing a fantastic job, was leaving the band and former Benediction singer Dave Ingram was coming in to fill some mighty big shoes. To my pleasant surprise, Ingram has done more than just filling shoes, he has taken the band to a new height with his own brand of growling. The other big change in the band came behind the drums, as a much more talented Martin Kearns steps in. Again, this is a great improvement and serves only to make the band stronger and more brutal. Musically there are no significant changes, but who wants them anyways, (aka If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!) and Bolt Thrower is still placed extremely high in the Death Metal charts!
The album opens up with what might very well become my alarm clock tune in the morning, “Contact- Wait Out” starts off as a clam “marching” tune and sets out into Hell itself, everything on this one has you shaking along with the walls of your room, and it is here that you realize that Dave Ingram IS the right replacement for Karl Willets. His voice is incredibly strong and the growls are done as nice as any, BIG props to this guy!
I will not get into a song by song analysis of the album, but I would like to mention the 3 title tracks, “Honour”, “Valour” and “Pride”. Conveniently placed as tracks 3, 6 and 9 they pretty much form the backbone of the album (of course, the digi pack has a bonus track, but bear with me). “Honour” starts off like a slowly rolling machine and maintains that pace throughout the song, like an inexorable force coming right at you, and you can’t do anything but wait for it. “Valour” comes right after a brutal Death Metal classic, and thus you have the impression of a slower more clamed tune, but around a minute into the song this all changes. When the song ignites you are in for a very fast ride, double bass all over, blast beating to go with it and if you listen closely I can almost swear I hear a tint of Slayer around there! “Pride” is the closer of the album (again, not of the digi…) and it is also the longest song on this excellent piece of work. It is the best way to close an album. To me, these three songs are the supreme highlights of the CD, but that doesn’t mean they are very different from the other songs. This album is TIGHT.
I am not afraid to say that this is Bolt Thrower’s best album to date but I like it better than anything they put out before. The flow of the CD is unbelievable, you can listen entirely through it without trouble at all, and that is very rare in a Death Metal band. I would highly recommend this album to anyone out there with even the slightest love for Death Metal, you won’t be disappointed, I’ll guarantee that much!