After reading Paul’s post about B.A.D. I realised I had not written a post about my Bolt Thrower discography marathon back in February, a most enjoyable one too.
Bolt Thrower were a British grindcore band that started way back in the early days of the genre, and it seemed like they were going to be immortal, until last year. In 2015 their drummer suddenly died at the age of 38 (he was 17 when he joined the band in 1994). A year later the band decided to hang up their axes.
The band’s name comes from a Warhammer character of the same name.
High Elf Eagle Claw Bolt Thrower
The thing about Bolt Thrower is that their music was pretty much the same from album to album, the only difference between them being the production, and drumming styles. There were changes of band members such as vocalist changes (Karl Willets was the vocalist on all of the albums though), and two major drummer changes. The change of drummers changed the sound somewhat, but it was still the chug-chugging Bolt Thrower we all know and love.
The first album is In Battle There Is No Law which I probably got on vinyl back in the day. I thrashed this one quite a bit because it was unlike anything else (grindcore bands then were all quite unique), it was heavy and riff-tastic. I am listening to it again as I write, and I am bopping as I type.
In Battle There Is No Law
It was the next album Realm of Chaos that really got me into Bolt Thrower. For a start, the cover, made by Games Workshop, is one of the best metal album covers you will ever see. The songs too were heavily tied into Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000, with the album title being a game released in 1988.
The production was a lot better than the first album, produced by a chap named Colin Richardson who produced a lot of great metal albums.
From Wikipedia: Realm of Chaos displays a progression from its previous output in speed and riffage. There is a strong focus on blast beats in many of the songs, with chaotic guitar soloing, common in grindcore. Nevertheless, the signature heavy riffing is also apparent. Thus, this is usually considered a death metal album.
I would rate this as my fave album… if I had to choose.
Realms of Chaos
War Master, produced again by Colin Richardson came out in 1991, and of course I bought it on vinyl when it was in the shops. Another classic Bolt Thrower album, and again featuring Games Workshop artwork.
From Wikipedia: This is also the final Bolt Thrower album to feature the blast beat style of drumming (which can be heard on four songs – “Unleashed (Upon Mankind)”, “What Dwells Within”, “War Master”, and “Afterlife”), before it was abandoned and subsequently never used thereafter in the Bolt Thrower discography.
The IVth Crusade came out in 1992, and I think I got it on vinyl. Again, good stuff, but a bit slower than previous albums, still heavy though. By this time the association with Games Workshop ended, so the album artwork changed. The artwork is a painting from Eugène Delacroix, showing “The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople”.
Wikipedia: For this album Bolt Thrower slowed down considerably compared to War Master, focussing more on playing heavy riffs and a thick sound.
The IVth Crusade
…For Victory was released in 1994, and my least favourite of their albums, not that it is bad. The album cover artwork is not their best.
Mercenary came out in 1998, and while still having the Bolt Thrower sound, is a very metal sounding album, and the production I found to be weaker than previous albums. Still a decent listen though, and it chug-chugs along.
Honour – Valour – Pride was released in 2002, and apart from the more gruff vocals, had the same sound as Mercenary. It had a better cover though, although not as good as the Games Workshop ones.
Honour – Valour – Pride
The last album is Those Once Loyal, released in 2005. The album cover is a photograph of a plaque on the Guards Memorial in London. The sound is pretty much the same as the previous two albums, although Jo Bench’s fuzzy bass is quite prominent on this.
Those Once Loyal
The last release I have is the Peel Session which I got in a box set called Grind Madness at the BBC from my brother many years ago, I was most pleased to get this. The box includes other grindcore bands such as Carcass, Napalm Death, and Intense degree. This is the only release without Karl Willets on vocals, with Alan West on vocals (he was the original vocalist, but only lasted one year).
Grind Madness at the BBC
A pretty good discography, I must say. As far as I can tell all of the band members have not continued on in their musical careers, the interwebs comes up with almost nothing on them post-Bolt Thrower. They had an impressive thirty years, pretty hard to top.