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Rome wasn't built in a day. - 75%

Goldblaze, November 26th, 2012

I guess everyone's gotta start somewhere. Bolt Thrower's debut album is not only devoid of what most people instantly connect with the band, it's also a great deal of fun to listen to. This was recorded and composed back in their 'street' days, when virtually no one except the band, close friends and some other bands knew about them, and as such, we get everything associated with that, low budget, muddy production job, some degree of sloppiness (although Karl is delivering the vocals with machine gun intensity and precision), et cetera. But none of it really matters, as this is a truly enjoyable listen from start to finish... just isn't particularly memorable one.

Don't get me wrong, it's not unmemorable as in bad, it's simply that if you listened to any later Bolt Thrower record, this will seem irrelevant, both musically and in the terms of band's sound. This album really sounds like some mishmash of hardcore punk, grindcore, and old school death metal, but it seems like at this point in their career, the band didn't really know how to mix it all together in a fully kickass manner (see their 2nd album, Realm of Chaos, for the RIGHT mix of that). We have punkish riffs, rhythms, then we get blasting grinding sections, and also some slower and more melodic parts. It's outlandish (speaking from my point of view), but it's pretty good to listen to from time to time.

Another problem would be the lack of songs individuality. At this point, I've listened to this album at least 20 times in it's entirety, and I can only recall and recognize 3 songs. Of course, the title track is an unforgettable anthem, the band is still playing it live most of the times, and it opens with pounding drums while Karl delivers the spoken intro with some of the coolest lyrics in existence:

In the fight for existence and life
There is no law
And in the presence of eternal death
There is no law
And as the struggle for power and domination prevails
In the arising slaughter
It shall be every man for himself
As in battle there is no law


The song progresses from hardcore-influenced opening, to death metal solos, to grindcore verses, before calling it quits with the opening riff. Forgotten Existence is also worth mentioning, with it's melodic intro and outro riffs, really standout. The final standout track is Psychological Warfare. It has some of the coolest lead guitars in death metal, something a lot of bands would mimic later. The rest I couldn't recognize for the life of me, I know the song titles, and if anyone would ask me: 'Hey, do you know that song Blind To Defeat?', I'd say: 'Yes, of course, it's from Bolt Thrower debut.' But I wouldn't be able to recall how it goes. To quote myself once more, I recall having tons of fun listening to the entire album, so the track must be cool. The songs just lack identity, that's all.

This album was a nice gateway for the band to write some stellar masterpieces later on, and it's great for what it is. Hardcore/grindcore/death metal shitload of fun, headbanging all around, air guitar noodling, etc. It also marks the birth of the world's best death metal band. But for all it's intentions and influence, I can't give it more than seventy five percent. People at that times probably started listening to the band with this record, but I'd recommend Realm Of Chaos, The IVth Crusade, or Those Once Loyal as a start for someone that's just getting into death metal at this point in time.

Favorite moments: the title track, intro to Forgotten Existence, lead guitars in Psychological Warfare.