Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.
Year released: 1988
Style: heavy death metal with rough vocals and fast leads
Band Personnel for the album is:
- Karl Willetts: vocals
- Gavin Ward: guitars
- Barry Thomson: guitars
- Jo-Anne Bench: bass guitars
- Andrew Whale: drums
Introduction to the Band Bolt Thrower
British death metal band Bolt Thrower was a death metal band from Coventry, England that was one of the earliest death metal bands other than Napalm Death. They came out with their debut album In Battle There is No Law! This 1988 album is considered to be of the grindcore style but it is of the old death metal style with fast lead guitar parts as well. Stylistically, you may be reminded of bands such as Morbid Angel. There is also the feel of early Sepultura in this album as well. Bolt Thrower was a band that just may have attracted the attention of some fans because of its name. The music of this first album of theirs is the standard death metal without lyrics that are too evil which is a bonus.
This may seem like just another album review about a band but to this writer it has become about more than just that. In a day and age when the news about the United Kingdom these days isn’t necessarily the best, at least in one category the United Kingdom shows their talent level and that category is through the creative expression of music. In this case, it is about expressing the creative force through the heavy metal sub-genre of death metal. In this time period which is 1988 and before, many death metal bands had rougher vocals typically and the songs were shorter with these sort of blast beat kind of drums.
With this being this British band’s first album, it starts out with the haunting sound of the title track which is about the effects caused by warfare. Are there really no laws when armies are engaged in the heat of battle? The song ends emphatically with the words “no law” being growled by vocalist Karl Willets. This leads into the next song with a thundering drum beginning in the song “Challenge for Power.” The solos in this song are of the very fast, tapping style. The manner in which this first death metal album from one of the UK’s most well-known extreme metal band starts out is a style in which other death metal bands would use especially Avulsed which is extreme metal as well. It is possible to detect the accent of Karl as he utters the sentence “As in battle there is no law.” Listening to this debut by Bolt Thrower has me convinced that this is a vastly superior album to Napalm Death’s debut Scum. There is no punk feel in this album but death metal that works out even for this early period. “Forgotten Existence” has an impressive melodic interlude part in it that certain Florida death metal bands used in their music.
Even in 1988, there were bands that incorporated melody into their songs. “Attack in the Aftermath” features some impressive drumming by Andrew Whale as this is another song that is lyrically about trying to do what you can to survive during wartime. Songs such as “Concession of Pain” and “Psychological Warfare” have the same heavy riffing and melody structure as they alternate between heavy, crunchy riffing and a sort of melodic secondary kind of riff. Songs that have a similar structure in an early death metal album can usually be a disadvantage. But this first album suffers from overly negative lyrical content. Even with that one con, this debut album from Bolt Thrower has just enough melody that ranks it above the first two releases of Napalm Death easily.
© 2021 Ara Vahanian