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Bolt Thrower's most epic release - 95%

tcgjarhead, January 24th, 2011

Having been together since 1986 Bolt Thrower have survived the ups and downs of the metal scene, and through all of this they have relatively retained their core sound, often times being called the AC/DC of death metal. It was with their 3rd album, War Master, that they found their niche within the death metal community.

Since 1991 they have ever so slightly tweaked their sound with each new album but never strayed off the beaten path. So what do we get here? We have thrashy death metal with guttural vocals that sound brutal as hell, yet Karl Willets is fully understandable. The bass is completely audible on every song adding a low end to the music that is crushing, and the guitars while fast are also melodic. But we're not talking twin leads and Iron Maiden worship here. The riffs are catchy and memorable while still being punishing. The drumming is nothing overly special, but it is well done and plays its part.

Those Once Loyal is great album and holds together well. It starts off with At First Light, the best song on the album for me. An acoustic piece begins the track but its a short build up to the start of the song. The riffs here are monstrous and the solos are fun. The chorus is very memorable both musically and lyrically/vocally. This is definitely a must to listen to!

A couple songs later we have The Killchain, a continuation of a few songs the band had done on previous albums. This string of tracks creating a sort of on going song which is kind of a fun idea they came up with. More specifically the intro and outro riff used on The Killchain will be very familiar to those who have heard the band's past releases. Its that heavy as hell chugging riff that has become a mainstay for usually at least one song on each album starting with Realm of Chaos.

Those Once Loyal, the title track is another good one. The chorus especially has a lot going for it but so does the rest of the song. The band slows it down through parts though it doesn't hinder the fluidity of it all.

This album lyrically deals with themes of the First World War. The song is At First Light about soldiers ordered out of their trenches and into battle. While Those Once Loyal is talking about “traitors” who are by some seen as heroes, and Anti-Tank (Dead Armour) speaking of as the name suggests, tank warfare and things of the sort.

I wont go through every song because its just not necessary, they are all excellent! I have to say the band has succeeded in creating an album chock full of groovy/melodic masterfully crafted riffs. I love the fact that unlike a lot of bands Bolt Thrower decided not to mix the bass out of the album. In fact its mixed almost evenly with the rest of the music which shows their confidence in the skills of Jo Bench (who is also considered one of the first females to play in an extreme metal band).

This probably will go down as the bands best album and unfortunately, probably their last. They were so pleased with how TOL turned out that they didn’t feel they could surpass it so they decided to not even make another album. With an entire discography dedicated to the topic of warfare and a distinguished sound Bolt Thrower are ending their careers with a bang.

Originally reviewed by me at