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Though a chunk of me immediately wanted to write off Honour - Valour - Pride as a largely forgettable sequel to the mundane Mercenary, there were a few bullet points which raised it a few steps past its predecessor, not the least of which is the fact that this is the sole Bolt Thrower record without Karl Willetts' vocals. In general, though, I found the music here, as predictable and stagnant as it is structurally, to be superior in terms of the enthusiasm of the band, and the brighter production. I definitely took away a sense that the group was still lacking inspiration, that Honour - Valour - Pride offered absolutely nothing new under the sun for this once beloved British band, and that it was simply occupying space to keep the label happy, the fans content, and the band productive...
But, hey, space soldiers, right? I won't lie, when I first saw the artwork I was rather psyched that the band might offer a new spin on their Warhammer 40K phase, and at least in terms of the lyrics, they had returned to the grim futuristic warfare of that setting. Musically, though, it's simply nowhere near as brutal and grim as its spiritual precursor, Realm of Chaos. The production of the guitars and the exorbitant use of engraved melodies against the pummeling rhythm progressions are straight from The IVth Crusade/...for Victory era, which is likely a thrill for the many fans of those eras, but I was crossing my fingers for something else. I do appreciate that they waylaid some of the lame, 90s groove influenced elements from the prior album; while they still exist to a point, this is far more of a 'death metal' experience overall, and thus denser, busier and more intense, even if numerous of the tracks could be interchanged between the two records. A lot of the writhing tremolo rhythms here are subtly more ominous and aggressive than Mercenary, but despite that the songs just really fail to achieve that next level of compulsiveness.
I realize a lot of people weren't too happy that we wound up missing out on a Martin van Drunen-fronted Bolt Thrower, myself among them. In retrospect, we have gotten Hail of Bullets and Drunen's return to Asphyx, which definitely help scratch that itch, but to be honest, I can't imagine his presence over these specific songs would have greatly enhanced their value. As for Dave Ingram, he was a natural choice to fill in for Willett's empty seat, having a comparable, garbled guttural timber and a load of experience on the English death metal scene. Not to mention, Benediction were pursuing a parallel path to this band in how they constructed simplistic death metal with few frills. I have numerous friends and acquaintances that disdain the album for the very reason that they don't enjoy his performance, but he's not at fault for my underwhelmed reaction to the music. A bit more growling sustain than Karl had on Mercenary, and instantly identifiable if you're familiar with records like The Grand Leveller or Subconscious Terror. On the flip side, he doesn't really generate anything more than what you'd expect; Ingram does not elevate himself to fit this opportunity he was given. If you didn't like him before, you wouldn't like him here, and like on Mercenary, the vocal production was very parched and dry, with less depth than the music behind it.
Otherwise, Honour - Valour - Pride sounds pretty damn good, with a better balance of drums and rhythm guitars than its predecessor. The snares, toms and crashes slash straight through the crisp tone of the axes, and you'll get a lot of subtle if striking leads and frilly feedback to create another layer to the experience. The riffs pursue the same balance of death/thrash, grind stretched out to a taffy-like consistency rarely pushing beyond a mid-paced gait; while cuts like "Pride" rely heavily on those same, baleful melodies the band had been spewing forth since War Master. The tone of the bass is also more appreciably corrosive. Granted, as with Mercenary, I find it painful to recall individual tracks, because there's just nothing here as inspired as a "Drowned in Torment", "As the World Burns", ...For Victory" or even a "What Dwells Within". Most of the rhythm progressions are recycled and slightly tweaked so that they're not cases of precise self-plagiarism, and the lack of striking riffs does tend to blend the material together. However an unassuming Bolt Thrower experience this album proved, though, I still found this a more interesting 45 minutes than the previous album. The architecture is comparable, but the songwriting was slightly better arranged. It's an 'okay' disc, the problem is that 'okay' is just not good enough for Bolt Thrower. Thankfully, the next time out they'd remind me just what it was about the band that I so loved in the late 80s.
Bolt Thrower is a band that has shown much consistency throughout each release, consistent in the way that each album is like a fucking tank driving through your eardrums targeting and destroying pussified ear hairs that would've appreciated the next Taylor Swift album or whatever bullshit your little sister listens to. Honour Valour Pride doesn't change this formula and we are left with another badass release that any death metal fan should have in their collection.
The album starts off the sounds of artillery blasting in the distance and the first song Contact - Wait Out promptly kicks you in the face and makes you want to start a war in your hometown with this as the sound track. This was the perfect song to start off the album with and much of what follows afterwards stays to this level of quality.
The guitars themselves play simple yet effective mid tempo riffs that when heard, conjure images of tanks rolling through a barren warzone with artillery shells blazing overtop while the sounds of machine guns rattle in the distance. The riffage here is the best part of the album and drives the album all the way through while never sounding boring or uninspired. Leads aren't as common in this album though are present in a few songs (K-Machine, 7th Offensive) but this doesn't take away from the album at all. The drumming, is simple yet very effective and each beat is well crafted and groovy as fuck. The main difference on this album that is quite noticeable is the departure of vocalist Karl Willets for Benediction's Dave Ingram and while lacking the power that Karl possessed, Ingram still fits the sound of the band quite nicely ensuring for a smooth transition.
So if your into some good quality metal, then this disc better be in your fucking collection, if not i'm going to have to come over in an APC wielding a tack hammer and beat you out of your fucking tripp pants for choosing the next Asking Alexandria album over this masterpiece. There is no excuse not to like this. Buy it now.
Recommended tracks: Pick anyone of them asshole, they are all excellent.
Starting with a history lesson, in 1994 Bolt Thrower had come out with perhaps their best album compositionally; ...For Victory. However vocalist Karl Willets's performance had left something to be desired. He wasn't bad, but perhaps somewhat weaker than normal, hurting an otherwise great album. Turns out he didn't have that much of an interest in delivering death vocals anymore so he left the band. But when things with his replacement, Dutch Martin van Drunen of Asphyx and Pestilence fame, didn't work out so well, Karl was once again called in to do vocals on Bolt Thrower's next album, 1998's Mercenary. An alright album by normal standards, but Bolt Thrower's weakest effort in years and Karl's vocals showed clear signs of his disinterest and he didn't stick long with the band, leaving that same year.
Enter Dave Ingram, freshly out of Benediction. His entrance understandably doesn't create as much interest as a more acknowledged veteran's like van Drunen's, but he is - apparently - easier to work with and the band enters the studio to record an album, this one, Honour, Valour, Pride. The band must've realized themselves what a lackluster effort Mercenary was and decided to put 110% effort into this album. Their general sound and style often gets compared to being run over by a tank and while some of their earlier albums more or less resemble this, none of them - aside from Warmaster - manage to capture that particular sound nearly as well as Honour, Valour, Pride. The success of it comes from a number of facts. First of all, the material in general is slow to mid-paced, which allows the grinding riffs to come to the forefront to crush the listener. The very powerful mids in their sound, backed up by the loud and low rumble of the bass, are absolutely perfect for their kind of riffs. The reverb and slight echo that's been part of their guitar sound for the past three albums is toned down a fair bit. The riffs are mostly ones with a lot of one-note repeats yet always with a little twist, or of the more melodic-variety like the lead riff that controls the verses of Honour. The drumming is not technical or fancy, but the new drummer, Martin Kearns has a lot more groove to his beats in comparison to his mechanical and boring predecessor, Alex Thomas. It goes very well with the surprising amount of groove found in the guitars and quite skillfully Bolt Thrower have made this groove work for their crushing sound rather than against it. A little groovy twist to those crushing and grinding riffs enables them to stay fresh just that much longer.
Now the part that probably garnered most interest on the album: the vocals. Yes, as previously mentioned, long time vocalist Karl Willets is gone and replaced by Dave Ingram of Benediction. On the earlier albums of his previous band, Ingram had had a formidable bellow, but the later ones saw his style develop into more of a hoarse shout with a slight hardcore influence, a style definitely not suited for Bolt Thrower's style in 2001, even if that's the direction Willets's vocals had gone on Mercenary. Fortunately, that is not the style witnessed on Honour, Valour, Pride. Instead it is a gruff growl with a lot of power in the mid-section, quite reminiscent of what Willets had been doing a few albums back. Ingram's voice is a bit deeper as well as lazier, more laid back and impassive. The vocals are very monotone, staying in the same pitch most of the time, but that really fits with the atmosphere of crushing treads and pummeling riffs.
On a grand scale, not a lot has really changed on paper from the previous strategic design of Bolt Thrower's assault. It is just the tactical plan that has been altered. The band seems a lot more into the music this time around in comparison to Mercenary. Songwriting is more inspired, more cohesive and works better. The new members vastly outperform the ones they replaced and the band's general performance shows them being lot more relaxed and in harmony with their music and each other. All in all an album that improves a whole lot on its predecessor.
For many, 'Honour Valour Pride' is seen as a grey spot in Bolt Thrower's history. A band that has graced the presence of death metal fans for many years, only getting better over time. However, in the year 2001 Bolt Thrower faced bad times with lowered heads and poor morale. This particular full-length was supposedly the end of this great band. With Karl Willets not on vocals anymore, a vast majority of Bolt Thrower's fans sensed the band were going on a steady slope downwards to the path which would ultimately lead to their demise.
However, with the re-emergence of Karl Willets are the vocalist, Bolt Thrower produced a 'great' shock with his comeback release, 'Those Once Loyal'. Which is ironically tagged to me. It should have come as no great surprise that Bolt Thrower are still the same old war machine they have always been, no matter who is at the helm leading the way. Bolt Thrower can and always have crushed any opposition and left no critic untouched by their punishing sound.
Although Karl Willets wasn't on vocals for this full-length, I still believe Dave Ingram gave a polished performance at the helm. Although his vocals are lacking somewhat, and in no way really compete with that of Karl Willets, he does what his job description tells him to do. Give a competent performance and deliver some unrelenting vocals to match the superb riffing the band has always been capable of. Once again, this element of the music, the guitars and the solos they create, is the saving grace. One riff after another and one solo after another will leave you drained of emotion. Bolt Thrower have never lost the power that is the embodiment of their sound, but they have momentarily misplaced it at times, including on this album. It doesn't generate as much feeling as previous, or latter albums.
Bolt Thrower have always had the ability to cover up any holes that may be found in their performance with some excruciatingly stunning solos. As aforementioned, this element is the saving grace. Ingram's vocals will obviously draw the most attention, which is perhaps a shame, but if he had only stuck to what he does best, the outcome may have been different. It's been stated several times in the past, but it seems as if he is merely trying to emulate what Karl Willets achieved on vocals. Ingram's style is vaguely similar to Willets' immense and immaculate driving vocals, though much more visceral. The deeper and darker sound doesn't necessarily sit well with the open style of riffing, one which allows the terrorising melodies to seep through.
Where Willets vocals acted as a creeping barrage of emotions spilled forth over the top of a number of classy and well executed solos, Ingram's vocals whimper and are just not up to the task. As I said, they are competent and would probably be received in a better light had he been the vocalist first, but he wasn't. Emulating someone isn't an attractive feature in music. You must put your own spin on things and Ingram just doesn't do that. It's unfortunate. Not only this, but the flow of the music just isn't there. The instrumentation doesn't fit the style of vocals, which are much deeper. The production gives the music a much more bombastic feel than albums like 'Mercenary', as heard on songs like 'Inside The Wire', but the vocals don't do a resounding job of fusing the elements together.
Although the production is quite murky and sounds as if the instruments are being covered by a cloud of smoke from the explosions of war, and the vocals are somewhat average, Bolt Thrower have kept a lot of what they do the same. Perhaps an element which isn't pleasing to most. People like to see progression. 'Honour Valour Pride' is perhaps seen as a backwards step in the history of the band. Some of the riffs can become repetitive and this takes away from the edge of the soundscapes Bolt Thrower create. It also feels as if Martin needed some time to feel his way back into the role on the drums. He gives a static performance, which will be overseen by his tremendous efforts on 'Those Once Loyal'. Inside The Wire is my highlight.
After the fairly decent but rather disappointing ‘Mecenary’, it took Bolt Thrower three years to come up with ‘Honour Valour Pride’. Considering the time spent, they could (and should) have come up with something better. Is it bad? No, It’s better than ‘Mecenary’ but it just wasn’t good enough yet.
Vocalist Dave Ingram does a decent job here although he does try too hard to sound like Karl Willets instead of trusting his own strength. A missed opportunity from that point of view but it does result in typical Bolt Thrower vocals over a typical Bolt Thrower album.
The material is mostly mid and slow paced like its predecessor but this time there is more groove and more melody. This results in the album being slightly more varied and interesting. Just enough to keep ones interest going till the end. The first song ‘Contact Wait Out’ including its intro has become my personal highlight of the album and remains one of my favourite songs from their entire discography.
‘Honour Valour Pride’ was definitely better than ‘Mecenary’ but still not a good as everything they’d done up from 1987 to 1994.
This is probably THE best Bolt Thrower album to date. The reason maybe being a different vocalist. Somehow Dave Ingram is just perfect for Bolt Thrower. His rasping vocals are so vicious that I feel that there is an overwhelming emotion into it. More than Karls' dry grunts. Not a bad word to you, Karl. Your voice still rocks, but I prefer Dave. It
Dave also understands the fine art of timing and articulating. In almost every song there is a special moment where the sound of the words is accentuated, somehow to emphasize the intens meaning behind that particular phrase. Such as the line "Awaken life immortal, one last bitter retreat " from the song Contact: Wait Out. Shame he had to leave (medical discharge according to the BT homepage).
The album is in perfect balance, the only flaw might be Valour as this one doesn't really keep sticking in my mind. All the rest is there coupled with a superb guitar sound, rapid fire drums and tank/bass. Somehow I feel that this album has got a slightly different sound than 'normal' Bolt Thrower. The guitars are crunchier, the drums seem to have more reverb. The build-up of this album reminds me of how Black Metallers compose there album with an eerie introductional song and a dramatic ending.
A special note to the lyricist: I don't know if it is written by only Ingram or by the whole BT gang, but; PRAISE!!! Pure fucking poetry! Superlatives are not powerful enought to stress the perfect vision of a trenchwar or a panzer-battle. It really highlights the transcendental and sinister qualities of war. I even doubt if this should be categorised as Death Metal. Honour, Valour, Pride is almost ethereal in its entire structure and rises far above both the fancy shredders and mediocre stomping death metal. This is pure art in all its simplicity.
1st verse of Inside The Wire
1st and last verse of Honour
last verse of Suspect Hostile
3rd verse and the missing lyrics of Pride
Musical highlights: all except Valour
This album is pure death metal.
What i have always liked about Bolt Thrower is their absolute straightforeward approach. There somewhat unique lyrical theme is 100% war, not much else. No gore, satan, anything. And their sound. Just pure head smashing straightforeward death metal. They havent changed much over the years, and have maintained pretty much the exact same sound with the exeption of production quality. They still manage to be, in my opinion, one of the best death metal bands ever.
This album rivals for their best with IVth crusade and Mercenary, but I think it may just win that battle. It is hard to write a review for Bolt Thrower, becuase they never sound all that much different, but what sets this album apart from the others is the songs. To be the best Bolt Thrower album means to have the most pounding, head bangable, catchy (at least for a death metal band) songs. Ones that you can listen to over and over again. That is just what H.V.P. has.
I dont need to describe the music itself much, because if you've heard any Bolt Thrower you pretty much know what to excpect. But for those new to B.T., I will give basic summary. Good standard drums, nothing too special. Excellent vocals, some of the best, and mos tolerable, death metal vocals out there. And probably the biggest factor, the guitar. B.T. is guitar driven, and it is probably the best, worst guitar you have ever heard. The riff pattern on most all B.T. songs are similar, and would be incredibly easy for anyone to play. As un-skilled sounding as they are, they are amazing, some of my favorite. Perfect to mosh, headbang, and quench the insatiable thirst we all have for great metal riffs. This basically describes Bolt Thrower. Honor Valor Pride is their best album because it makes the best songs using these elements.
The best song on this disc is Inside the Wire, and is probably close to No Guts No Glory for the best Bolt Thrower song. All of the songs are consistently good.
Bolt Thrower's 7th album was an impulse buy for me. I'd only a couple of weeks before bought Realm Of Chaos and was just getting stuck into it's crushing WH40K space war anthems, but when I saw the awesome packaging and attractive price at an underground shop, I got it, and i'm not disappointed in the slightest.
The opening crescendo of military snare drumming quickly explodes into an ominous riff typical of Bolt Thrower before accelerating into a speedy dual guitar attack supplemented by stomach-churning bass and vital double-bass drumming. Enter the low, belching vocals showcasing an expansive perspective of war and battle, and end five minutes later with just the right touch of progession finishing-off the song nicely, and your breath still racing to catch-up. Thier attack could be described as limiting because of thier almost concrete-set trademark sound, but you can tell Bolt Thrower are revelling in thier own highly distinctive niche of death metal. Every single song in thier back catalogue is powerful on it's own, but thier constant style has made some of the albums blur somewhat in the absence of strict listening attention. Not anymore! Honour Valour Pride is a continuation of the same formula, but as churned-out by a band that has gone through a couple lineup changes. For better, thier new drummer Martin Kearns couldn't fit more perfectly into the war-machine. There's nothing jaw-dropping about the way he hits the skins and he doesn't put-in as many offtime fills as Andy Whale before him, but his stamina at the bass pedals adds a clean, driving and often creative pummeling that sounds perfect and crafting in the alternating fast/slow tempos of Bolt Thrower's music. The two opening tracks, plus 'Valour' and 'K-Machine' show him-off well. Likewise faultless are original members Baz Thompson and Gav Ward on guitars. They churn-out the same gloomy riffs, rapid-fire stringwork and melodically spiked, mildly progressive tunes, but efforts such as the valiant solo opening '7th Offensive' and the titanically foreboding intro riff to 'Valour' are but a few that partition this album into seperate tracks nicely.
The lyrics refrain from the graphic nature of many other death/grind bands, instead building on things like vague visual intensity, tactile and aural textures and moral grounds exposed through tragedy and the qualities exposed in man through conflict. (refer to the album title!) 'Await the call, Oncoming storm, Let come what may, No light so full of hope as that of dawn' ("Contact - Wait Out"),'Splinters of man, Counterparts as one, Now in times of peace, Rain falls on lonely graves' (Valour) 'Honour the fallen brave, Valour with thier lives they gave, Pride that will never fade, We still remember' (Pride) Those are some out-takes that demonstrate Bolt Thrower as attempting to depict more than just cheap violence that leave any consideration of meaning totally to the listener. The departure of Karl Willets has seen Dave Ingram (ex-Benediction) step-in to provide the vocals. Critically, Ingram is monotone and banal in his delivery. He is competent in his own right, but cannot nearly compete with the pure animal aggression and guttural intensity that Willets had offered Bolt Thrower. Despite this, Ingram is as good a replacement as anyone can expect; his style doesn't verge much from what is expected of Bolt Thrower, and on the plus side his more ordered delivery makes the lyrics more comprehensible.
As another soundtrack to war, Bolt Thrower's music is an excellent combination of action-oriented speed, grim chugging, heroic guitar flair and dark, crushing melody. At face value, they have a samey feel throughout thier albums that demonstrates an unswerving comfort in what they do, and that they rely on riffs for writing songs rather than experimentation or varied structures. This album in particular contains a good variation of memorable riffs and distinctive songs without compromising thier style or theme, and as such, Honour - Valour - Pride is an excellent release from one of the most experienced death bands around. It offers a well structured and considered approach that really makes it feel like a themed album, and not just a collection of songs. The limited edition release comes with a bonus track (of just the same quality) and some stunning packaging that makes it seem that lil bit more important.
Three years after “Mercenary” the one and only Bolt Thrower is back on the front with “Honour, Valour, Pride”.
As might be known, Bolt Thrower couldn’t care less about trends and hypes. Hell, Bolt Thrower IS a ‘trend’ of it’s own, the one and only ‘War Metal band’. Which also means that we don’t have to expect something new on this seventh full length.
An impenetrable wall of sound is once again created, a sound we all know so well by now. Three quarters of an hour of pure war like only Bolt Thrower knows how to induce. Dave Ingram’s rasping vocal cords accomplish a grim atmosphere which to my honest opinion fits better within the overall sound than Karl Willets’ grunt ever did. Which of course adds up to the total.
Still, there’s something nagging at me since “The Fourth Crusade” and that’s the little word ‘variety’ A classic Bolt Thrower album like “War Master” for instance combined both very heavy riffs with the occasional needed up-tempo drums, whereas on “Honour, Valour, Pride” the super heavy riffs remain, but the drums changes beats very, very sporadically. A fact that doesn’t make it too easy to listen the CD from front to end…
Don’t take those last comments too serious however, because it’s also a major relief to listen to a CD which sounds heavy as fuck instead of all those nowadays’ ‘hyper blast’ Death Metal bands. A CD which, partly because of the hypnotizing riffs and leads, testifies of perseverance and identity.
This is definitely not a foreground album... it is too repetitive and variation-free to keep an active listener's interest. That said, it is not bad... if you put it on and engage your mind with other means, this will not turn irritating. Therefore, it is perfect background music, especially if you like thrash or death metal. Every once in a while you will perk up to a good riff, but then it will lose your attention again.
The music itself is pretty good... it's death-thrash and hearing one song in isolation would be an altogether pleasing experience. The production is good, the riffage is HEAVY AS FUCK without being grindy or modern, and the vocals are excellent... a solid thrash/early Swedish Death (Dismember, etc) foundation is used, but the music is rather midpaced as opposed to fast. The thing is, all the songs are the same pace, similar riffs, same vocals, etc... no differentiating cues are to be found.
Highlights? I really couldn't tell you. My Winamp crashed during one of the songs, and when I put it back, I think I put it back to the song before, because it sounded a bit too familiar, but I couldn't tell you if that was the case. That doesn't say much for its memorability. Again, it's not BAD, just uncaptivating.
I bought this album because I wanted something heavier than my daily dose of Behemoth, Amon Amarth, Kreator..etc. All the other bands I listen to everyday. Well this album is damn heavy, as far as death metal goes...they are the heaviest death metal band I have heard without turing into Deathcore, Noisecore, or having some core music elements added to it.
From start to finish this album is heavy, and one of the most consistent albums I have ever heard. Throughout the entire album its pure heavy death metal. Each song following the previous one is just as heavy, just loud, and just as brutal. What makes this album so damn heavy is the bands brutal guitars. Each song is filled with rolling riffs that never relent in their heavyness and at times just go on and on, giving you more of what you want. Its a nonstop assult of heavy guitars, loud angry drums, and bass lines to make the ground shake. At times the music gets a bit slow but doesn't get less heavy, this is usually when the vocals come in. Other than that though its a pretty fast album. The vocals are just as consitent as the rest of the instruments. They are deep, heavy, and overall good death metal vocals, they aren't anything special, I have heard much better, but they do fit the style of the songs well.
This is just about the same as most of Bolt Thrower's other releases but at times slower. You can still find the fast riffs and guitar work through out this album though, they are certainly not lacking. Like I said though, if you want a fast death metal album thats heavy, go for other Bolt Thrower albums, this one does have its slower moments. This album overall though is good for what it is, heavy brutal relentless death metal. There is nothing on this album I hate, but it fails to hit a high note...the album is just the same throughout, heavy and good.
Bolt Thrower’s newest release starts with a bang, literally. The sound of mortar fire and machine guns are heard at the beginning of the first track titled Contact – Wait Out. HVP isn’t the most brutal or heaviest death metal album out there; it’s more of a mid tempo death metal. This makes HVP great music to head bang to; it’s definitely chock full of enough riffs to keep you going. The problem is, after listening to this album several times, I can see how some have labeled Bolt Thrower as being boring or dull. Each song on HVP sounds similar to each other. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since the music is decent, but the longevity of an album this is questionable.
I don’t want to sound too harsh though, because there are several songs highlights. 7th Offensive opens up with a nice guitar lead, which make me think that there should have been more guitar solos on the album. The title track was spilt into three, and each of them are respectable songs, but it’s more of the same feeling. Lyrically, it’s nice to see something other than the average blood, gore, Satan themes. Bolt Thrower’s theme is that of war, and the lyrics describe what the battlefield is like without being overly graphic.
Its sounds as though I am really ragging on HVP, but I do enjoy listening to it. Adding more variety to the riffs would have helped immensely. Bolt Thrower has been around for a while, and they have released a number of albums. HVP is the only one I currently own, but I am unsure of whether I should try any of their earlier material if it’s anything similar to this. You could say that they are consistent, but some innovation is necessary to keep material fresh.
Highs: Good riffs; battle sounds are nice; decent lyrics
Lows: Lack of solos; repetitive
Final Comment: Not a bad choice if you are looking for some standard death metal. Don’t expect to be extremely impressed, though.