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Abjurers Will Be Slain - 90%

Johnny_Carrion, August 12th, 2014

Bolt Thrower, a band so steeped in the critical acclaim of their latest studio album (way back in 2005) that hasn’t released any new material ever since. Such abstinence rarely pops up in the realm of metal, since most metal bands release new material in a two or three year interval and expand their catalog relentlessly. Call this cessation an act of utter honesty, or maybe an act of lethargy, whatever the case may be I find this album to be an impeccable release of death metal mastery and indeed a difficult album to top off.

No technical wankery, no hackneyed lyrics, no dead pan production, all the good qualities of an excellent metal record you’d want can be found on this disc. The songs are laid over a simple yet durable slab of common metal elements, but don’t let the simplicity fool you because it has been crafted very well, a trait that is hard to spot on most current metal releases. Lots of dynamic elements can be traced in the tracks from outright sonic slaughter to slow paced chug-a-lug riffs to furious vocals and blazing solo’s. What makes this album stand out is that there is no excess, no saturation, everything has been coalesced perfectly, and there is space, all of the songs are like living entities. You don’t get the sense that you are listening to a band with only one guitar virtuoso blazing his ass off with a support crew of nobodies! Or a circle jerk of psychotically talented musicians with no chemistry whatsoever.

Everything is so tight and in sync, the riffs bolster the album and pack the perpetual punch. Baz Thomson and Gavin Ward have seriously done justice to the guitar work and cooperate in a synchronized manner throughout the songs, they know their metal! Lots of texture and dynamic exists within the rhythm department, the riffs are sometimes reminiscent of an old school death metal vibe but with a more modern edge making the songs feel original and maintain freshness throughout the listening experience, and most important of all is that they are just so fucking heavy because they retain key death metal riffing concepts without formulating bland and repetitive riffs. A good example would be the sonic palette “Last Stand of Humanity”. Fans of bands like Benediction will definitely relate with the guitar work because their craft is analogous to this release. Solo work is just top notch, no wank fest for sure, it’s just as reliable as the riffage following crazy tremolo dives, fast finger paced string slinging and distressed vibratos.

Another laudable factor is the audible bass thanks to a crisp and leveled mixing job, Jo Bench’s bass work really anchors the songs and delivers serious tremors all over the tracks mostly by following the guitars (a good example would be The Killchain & Anti-Tank) but in some cases deviates from the norm and adds much more depth in composition (Entrenched).

Drums are very snappy and clear, no over production has besmirched the woody tone of the kit and Martin Kearns has been faithful to the rudiments of metal drumming and delivers his beats with alacrity, lots of punk based skank beats here and there, a plethora of fast double kick drumming and heaps of concise drum fills, no blastbeats mind you, but you certainly don’t even sense the need for any!

Karl Willets is like a fucking T-Rex behind the microphone, a battering ram trying to pillage a huge gate, there is a deep guttural undertone to his vocals, spitting out words with a visceral attitude but the anomaly is that his vocals are decipherable and easy to understand and follow.

Overall a must own album for any death metal fan and definitely worth your time!