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Saturday, 17 July 2010

Death Metal Master (Bolt Thrower, Warmaster, 1991)

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War does not determine who is right - only who is left.
Amongst the idyllic and picturesque surroundings of Coventry, lurks a bellicose jingoistic machination, manned by a crew of 5 and  named after a table top game there is no escape from its mud/blood laden  rusted cogs of war when heaved into motion, beware the onslaught of Bolt Thrower.
The ancient Greeks who possessed a Bolt Thrower of their own, would often write songs  and construct structures glorifying warriors and victories long gone. Bolt Thrower drag out this Hellenic ethos and bring it forth to the modern age, however the modern age is a place of grim industrialised mass murder, the age of mind and muscle is long gone and we have entered the age of the megaton and what better sound track to reflect this than Old School British Death Metal.
With the guitars chugging frantically away, accompanied by artillery blasts from the drums and a bass line that will literally give you shell shock, Bolt Thrower perfect their unique and far too often overlooked creation of the fan assigned genre of "War Metal"(Trust me this is the real deal not your silly folky finnish battle metal), which no other band on this war ridden planet has been able to match.
The qualities that make this band and album unique or unconventional are numerous, however there are some which are of better note than others, one in particular from experience. Whenever I show my friends the music I love I always get the same generic answer "I like the guitars and drums, but I cant understand the vocals which ruins it for me", certainly a reasonable answer well finally I have ace card to throw their way, Bolt Thrower are completely comprehensible! And yet somehow they preserve that low bellowing inhumane vocals that I love, this achievement certainly is one which makes me idolise Bolt Thrower. In addition to a paradoxical result of comprehensible-death metal vocals we actually are assaulted with some great morbid poetic lyrics which would make the likes of Wilfred Owens consider a career shift, check it out.
Alone you stand - The final parody
Destined to silence - A memorial to mortality
Carved in stone - A tribute to the dead
For nameless victims - Whose litany is unread
Never Forgotten - War's memory lingers on
A dark reminder - To mankind's oblivion
This solemn image - Constructed with resolution
A monument - To war's terminal conclusion

Impressive qausi-nihilistic-patriotic lyrics, especially for death metal who nowadays focus to much on ridiculous sickening sexual and violent acts.  Another little known fact that the bassist Jo-Anne Bench is considered either the first or one of the first females to be in an extreme metal band, a title which holds a great amount of prestige to it. Her bass is fundamental to this album, although the guitars are highly down tuned and may be confused for bass, it is the bass that give it that dark and resonant articulation that completes the barbarity of war edge. As aforementioned the guitars are down tuned , but expect to hear technical moments that are graceful to the music, but sound like the agony and distress of the nameless dead soldiers dying in puddle of their own blood. The percussion varies from your doomy slow paced march, to a coordinated blitzkreig. The production value has a fuzzy tint which rounds off the war theme to a tee, I can think of only a handful of examples where instruments and production conjure up images synonymous with the lyrics.
Warmaster  is an album worthy of its name, and is a perfect musical expression of war: a collection of savagery and misery and somewhere deep amongst the piles of soldiers unknown lies a icon of glory and fame.