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Perfection wrapped in a disc! - 100%

Mean_Machine, February 17th, 2019
Written based on this version: 1996, CD, Earache Records

I always wanted to write a review for this album or any album for Bolt Thrower for that matter, but I have struggled to do so. Why? You probably did not even ask. A simple reason: my review will consist of the sentence “FUCKING AWESOME GOOSEBUMPS” repeated a few hundred times. However, since MA’s moderators made it very clear we cannot do that; I will have to break down these fucking awesome goosebumps into a few words.

I remember when a friend of mine introduced me into Bolt Thrower with this album 20 years ago, my eyes turned wide and sparkly like an anime character that has just fell in love. The intro itself is simple yet brilliantly grabs your attention with mid-paced drums, old school melodic tune and deep harsh vocals. Good news, this is just the beginning! I will start with the riffs and guitar tune of this album, which are nothing short from raw and old school, yet melodic and unique! No extreme complexity, yet memorable and enjoyable. Fierce and fast riffs in songs like Icon, Spearhead, and Ritual, and have some “melody” in songs like “Where Next To Conquer” and “Celestial Sanctuary”. Guitar sound is old school and unique like in “Ritual” intro and main riffs of “Spearhead”. There are short fast bursts of solos in some of the songs, and then they have those unbelievably groovy solos in “As The World Burns” and “Where Next To Conquer”. There are songs which start old school and raw and end on melodic note like “As The World Burns”, a song that leaves you in awe.

The drumming varies between mid-paced drumming with double bass line through the whole riff and drums blasts that cover the most of some songs. However, the drumming is one of the major contributing factors into making this album one of the best death metal records I have ever heard. You cannot take the drumming techniques in Icon and Spearhead lightly as they are a proof that Bolt Thrower can get complex and technical. Double bass is not taken into granted and not overused; it is in the right times and in the right dosages.

Of course, the formula of a perfect record cannot be complete without perfect vocals. Boy! Karl’s vocals are the last piece of this masterpiece of a puzzle. Deep and fierce vocals throughout the record. No funny business of high-pitched screams nor clean vocals, just old school perfection from the first second to the last. Of course, the production gave each instrument justice and made the record one of the icons of death metal. Both Instruments and vocals sound as they should and nothing overrides the other.

In conclusion, the album is perfect from all aspects and it saddens me that Bolt Thrower never got the right treatment nor exposure they deserved. I mean, this album is the definition of originality! Now, the good news is most of the albums released after this record contain the same elements of perfection. The sad news is I cannot review them because I will write the same words with different song titles. I am such a fan boy, I know. To this day, I get fucking awesome goosebumps every time I listen to this album. So, it might be a couple of decades late, but if you have not heard this record yet, you must do it now!