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Jaw-dropping - 93%

PatientZero, June 28th, 2008

Bolt Thrower is one of the most easily recognizable acts in death metal. England’s leading death metal band has been there since the birth of it; they’ve never changed their style and they refuse to release anything that they don’t think tops their last effort. It’s a great attitude to have, and has resulted in their sound not necessarily evolving, rather it simply gets better; it is fine-tuned with each new album. Not one second of one of their songs is boring, repetitive or redundant, making Bolt Thrower something of an anomaly, in that any other band who never changes their sound fails miserably (see Deicide, Cannibal Corpse).

After the filthy grinding death metal onslaught that was In Battle There is No Law, Bolt Thrower already had a hard job on their hands, if they were to stay true to their vow of always topping their previous effort. The change of style between In Battle… and Realm of Chaos is probably the most noticeable change between any two albums in their catalogue. Lessening the hardcore punk influence that was prominent on In Battle…, here Bolt Thrower lay the foundations of their style to come, a heavy, doomy, grindcore-influenced and loosely played brand of death metal that was unique at the time but has been done to death (and to a poorer standard) by many other bands since. Of course, this does not detract from the power of the album. Guitars are down-tuned as far as anyone before them, and the tone is dirty, sounding very loose. The guitar is a bit repetitive but that adds to the hypnotic effect that the album has. There are some great riffs, like the one at 3:20 in All That Remains, and the music really does sound like going to war.

Bolt Thrower must really love Warhammer, as they haven’t changed what they sing about at all since they formed in the late 80s. It’s a bit geeky at times, as are their album covers and logo, but it adds to their uniqueness. The vocals are monotonous low-pitched growls that work well with the music to create the war-like atmosphere, and are a far better way of singing these lyrics to the only other way I could imagine, which would be homo-erotic power metal ala Iced Earth.

This is a really great album, and though I must say it is the one I’ve paid the most attention to of Bolt Thrower’s discography, it seems to be the best. Of course, this isn’t to defy Bolt Thrower’s idea of bettering themselves with each offering, as each album is great and it’s hard to choose between them. Grindcore influences are still prominent, but with Realm of Chaos Bolt Thrower manage to depart from the sound of In Battle… by incorporating more doom metal elements. Their riffage style would come to be almost definitive of death metal and it is an absolute, unmissable classic that probably doesn’t quite get the recognition it deserves.