Those Once Loyal

Bolt Thrower

If there is one band that can lay claim to the title of Death Metal […]
By David Kaluza
December 13, 2005
Bolt Thrower - Those Once Loyal album cover

If there is one band that can lay claim to the title of Death Metal Veterans, it surely must be Bolt Thrower. It has been no less than seventeen years since their first release, In Battle There Is No Law, and even though they never quite had the success or status of bands like Morbid Angel or Death, it never stopped them from releasing one outstanding album after the other. Those Once Loyal, their latest effort, is no exception to this rule and proves that there still is a lot of fighting spirit left in Bolt Thrower.
It might have taken the band four years to come up with a new album but from the first notes of the opening track At First Light, it becomes clear that we should not be expecting any drastic musical changes. The main bulk of the material still consists of mid-tempo, grooving and thundering Death Metal tracks, with the occasional faster song thrown in for a bit of variety. In fact, the only real change this time around is the return of original Bolt Thrower vocalist Karl Willets. He replaces Dave Ingram, who left in 2003 due to health problems. And even then, this isn't really much of a change at all, considering Karl is on most of the band's albums anyway.
Make no mistake however. Even though Those Once Loyal might be fairly predictable musically, that does not mean that the album is bad. Not at all. It actually becomes quite clear early on that this might very well be one of the best Bolt Thrower releases so far. It takes just one listen to tracks like Salvo,  Granite Wall or Last Stand Of Humanity to get them etched permanently into your mind, making you want to play them over and over again. It all might be more of the same but in this case that definitely is not a bad thing! With some superb hooks and grooves, great musical performances all around, and a stellar production, there really is no weak or even so much as an average track to be found on here.
Bolt Thrower again manages to absolutely grind the opposition to dust. Together with Gorefest's La Muerte, Those Once Loyal definitely ranks as one of the best Death Metal albums of 2005, and even as one of the year's better and most uncompromising Metal releases as a whole. Killer! Let's just hope that we won't have to wait another four years for the next one and that perhaps in the meantime we finally get a live CD and DVD.

10 / 10


"Those Once Loyal" Track-listing:

At First Light
The Killchain
Granite Wall
Those Once Loyal
Anti-Tank (Dead Armour)
Last Stand of Humanity
When Cannons Fade
A Symbol of Eight (Bonus Track)

Bolt Thrower Lineup:

Karl Willetts - Vocals
Barry Thomson - Guitar
Gavin Ward - Guitar
Jo Bench - Bass
Martin Kearns - Drums

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