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Review of the Album "Those Once Loyal" by Bolt Thrower

Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.


Musical Style and Lyrical Themes

Those Once Loyal ended up being the final studio album by the famous British death metal band Bolt Thrower and it was released in 2005. I ended up wanting to investigate this album further at least partially because the album’s cover attracted me to it. This album ended up being the last studio album that Bolt Thrower would ever write as they disbanded a year after the sudden death of their drummer Martin Kearns in 2015. This last album of theirs is a complete departure from their debut or even the one that followed it. The album’s lyrical themes deal with war especially World War 1 but that does not diminish the quality of the album in the slightest.

Bolt Thrower Ended Their Career in the Best Way Possible Musically

If the goal of Bolt Thrower was to end their studio album making duties in the best way possible, they did just that with the album Those Once Loyal. The bass guitar play of Jo-Anne Bench is memorable as well. This album is death metal without actually crossing over into the melodic death metal genre. Bolt Thrower did not even need to try to become a melodic death metal band because with this album they show that their riffs are well written enough.

"Those Once Loyal" Song Only

The way that this album begins with the at first suspenseful then heavy song “At First Light” it sounds like one of those theme songs in the video game Wolfenstein 3D. The song Some of you may wonder if this is any way to begin a death metal song but it helps to diversify their musical approach instead of just going head on into fast, uncompromising riffing.

"When Cannons Fade"

More Detailed Analysis of the Songs

“Entrenched” lyrically continues in the theme of discussing the challenges posed by intense warfare as defeat at times looks like it is imminent. “The Killchain” stylistically has a touch of Demolition era Judas Priest in it as the song is once again how technological advances have contributed to more advanced techniques of warfare as the targets are more easily found. “Granite Wall” is lyrically about what happens as fallen soldiers are immortalized as heroes as flags are draped on their coffins. If there was one word to describe this final studio album from Bolt Thrower it would be superb! The vocals of Karl Willetts to this point in time also fit just right with the tunes of the album as this might as well be considered an album that focuses exclusively on the consequences of what happens when someone is killed during wartime. The vocals are low and heavy but not guttural enough to sound too guttural if that makes sense. You might get the sense that the vocals are just right for the kind of album that is presented here. Is Bolt Thrower going to be a better band than Napalm Death? That’s hard to say for sure but this last official studio album of theirs gets huge acclaim and a rubber stamp of approval for the impeccable bass guitar play and hard-hitting drums by Martin “Kiddie” Kearns who would unfortunately pass away in his sleep. Well if this was the way that it ended for Martin Kearns and Bolt Thrower from a musical perspective it was a solid ending for the band as a whole.

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Bolt Thrower's Best Studio Album is Here

Perhaps it may have been very fitting for the band to have the last song “When Cannons Fade” slow down gradually in the riffing department as Martin would finish off the song playing his drum parts. Little did he know that this would have been the last official studio release for Bolt Thrower but listening to these songs for the third time in one day, it convinces me that this is the way for Bolt Thrower to have finished their career.

Rate Bolt Thrower's Final Studio Album

© 2021 Ara Vahanian

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