1991, Music

War Master (1991) by Bolt Thrower

I don’t know Bolt Thrower’s history – in fact I’d never heard of them before – so I have no idea of their evolution from grindcore to straight ahead death metal. Maybe that’s something that matters here, but I have no idea.

This is pretty typical death metal: blast drumming, fast, distorted riffing, heavy growl, speedy solos. (Someone described the vocals as “clean” which is funny. Everything is relative.)

This is one of the death metal albums where all tracks are basically the same. There are innumerable metal albums like this, of course. But I think this is well executed enough for that not to matter. There’s also a slight groove element on some tracks which gives at least some variety to the assault. (I can think of other death metal albums where there is less variety.)

It’s also early enough in the genre’s history where straight-up, death metal with minimal variation is totally normal and fine. I don’t even know if technical death or melodic death quite existed yet so something that is just vaguely groove but otherwise pretty pure death makes more sense to me in 1991 than it does in, say, 2000. I’m still sort of mystified how people can lose their minds over straight-ahead death metal records released in the 21st century. I guess that means I’m not a big fan of the genre.

I still have a hard time knowing exactly how to rate it. It’s been a little while since I’ve heard other death metal albums from ’90 or ’91 (or even the late ’80s) and it’s possible that I’m overrating it a tad. But I’m not going to go listen to those other records just so I can get a better sense of where this belongs. That’s the issue with these purist records, it’s just a little hard to put them into a greater perspective.


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