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Bolt Thrower

One of Britain's most consistent and enduring death metal bands, Birmingham's Bolt Thrower has weathered the best and worst of times in the extreme genre's history without ever giving in to commercial temptations, or hardly even altering its sound. The fact that they were unusually blessed with a steady lineup throughout much of their career no doubt contributed to this stability, and though they were rarely bestowed wild praise for their efforts, with most of their competitors or contemporaries either adopting other styles or long retired, Bolt Thrower has gradually established itself as one of the best death metal bands ever to emerge from England.

Guitarist Gavin Ward and drummer Andy Whale formed Bolt Thrower in heavy metal's original birthing ground, the industrial city of Birmingham, England, in 1986. Taking their name from a character in one of their favorite role-playing games, Warhammer Fantasy Battle, the duo soon drafted vocalist Alan West, guitarist Barry Thompson, and bassist Jo Bench (one of the first female musicians to take part in an extreme metal group of any sort). True to form given their name, Bolt Thrower would dedicate their whole career to analyzing and dissecting all aspects of human warfare -- its history, its weapons, etc. -- and they quickly took to the road in order to perfect a brutalizing musical onslaught worthy of backing up such morbid subject matter. Despite their material's general inaccessibility, legendary BBC Radio1 DJ John Peel became an early supporter, hosting the group for various early sessions (subsequently released in 1991 with the expected Peel Sessions title) and helping to bolster their profile on their way to securing a deal with the Vinyl Solutions label. Around this time, West was replaced by the band's van driver, one Karl Willetts, who soon proved himself a more than capable successor and served as the final necessary cog in the Bolt Thrower war machine. Released in 1988 with little success, their poorly produced and somewhat tentative debut album, In Battle There Is No Law, lacked the focused ferocity yet to come, but already delved deeply into their lyrical obsessions with anything warlike.

The following year, Bolt Thrower became one of the first acts to sign with on-the-rise extreme metal powerhouse Earache Records (also the home of grindcore experts Napalm Death) and 1989's Realm of Chaos fittingly saw them partnering with Games Workshop, the company responsible for the Warhammer game which had inspired their name. Boasting lyrics directly inspired by the game and featuring custom artwork provided by GWS, Realm of Chaos was a far more confident effort, and despite experiencing continued problems on the production end of things, it was clear that the band was slowly finding its identity. Bolt Thrower then joined the now-infamous Grindcrusher tour, also featuring Napalm Death, Carcass, and Morbid Angel, across the U.K., before starting work on what would become their most definitive album, 1991's Warmaster. This time, producer Colin Richardson helped the band achieve the taught, precision-filled intensity they'd been looking for all along, and the resulting LP has since come to represent Bolt Thrower's signature sound: Willetts' deeply guttural growl combined with Ward and Thompson's nearly impenetrable wall of dense guitar riffs, set to the requisite double kick drums; but interestingly, these didn't always resort to all-out speed, but rather maintained a measured, pounding pace, which was somehow even more powerful for it. Their sonic paradigm now in place, Bolt Thrower kept themselves extremely busy for the next few years, touring incessantly across the U.K. and Europe with the likes of Unleashed and Cemetary, while recording strong follow-ups like 1992's The IVth Crusade and 1994's For Victory, each of which achieved only slightly inferior results and maintained the group's gradual shift toward slower, doomier styles.

Bolt Thrower's longtime stability was coming to an end, however, as vocalist Willetts and drummer Whale threw in their lot around this time, wishing to get off the road and pursue a more normal lifestyle. For their part, the remaining bandmembers were becoming increasingly protective of their art, and, convinced they weren't getting the best promotional support, parted company with Earache and signed to Metal Blade. Meanwhile, replacement musicians came and went as the group prepared new material, and repeated delays over artwork kept postponing the release of their sixth official album. By the time 1998's Mercenary finally arrived, original singer Willetts had been persuaded to return long enough to record his parts and new drummer Alex Thomas was sitting on the hot-stool; but by then, most fans had given Bolt Thrower up for dead and moved onto new bands to idolize. Perhaps reflecting the turmoil within, the record was also hardly one of their most stellar outings, and it was neatly overshadowed by former label Earache's Who Dares Wins collection of the same year. Dutch vocalist Martin VanDrunen was brought in for touring purposes, but further lineup changes preceded the recording of 2001's semi-comeback Honour Valour Pride, by which time Bolt Thrower's core lineup of Thompson, Ward, and Bench was complemented by drummer Martin Kearns and ex-Benediction singer Dave Ingram. Ingram left soon after the record's release, prompting the return of original vocalist Karl Willets. Those Once Loyal, Bolt Thrower's eighth studio album, was relased on Metal Blade in November, 2005. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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13
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Don't read this because it works
Post this on fifty honorable yet brutal band on the next thousand minutes and an opponent that is worthy will come forth and you will be granted a warriors death
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Into the fires of battle... UNTO THE ANVIL OF WAR!!!
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This artist is splendid
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Fkn.awesome. l i k e them.
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all hail them mighty BOLT THROWER \m/
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like this band is not a strong enough complement.. . . right up there w/ Sepultura.
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BOLT THROWER = always great !!!
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War metal. The sound of combat.
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holy flock!! why do i not know about this??? Added to station definitely
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FOR THE EMPEROR! FOR THE IMPERIUM! AND FOR THE FALLEN PRIMARCHS!
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osmandmiftar i
Best band
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I really like bolt thrower but can't seem to find a bolt thrower patch for my battle jacket
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This is so brutal I'm going to go outside and smash somebody in the face
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These guys. They are actually pretty awesome. BLOOD AND FIRE
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great band, terrible write up about them in my opinion.
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The most rock & metal stations on Pandora Radio!
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This band was f**Ken the s**t to see live. You had to jump in the Pit. Horns up \m/ my Metal friends.
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Bolt Thrower is one of those bands whose history is very tied up in the essence of the metal genre and what it means to be a member of the "rawk" world. Their association with Warhammer, particularly the 40K imagery, and their relentless and bellicose themes seat perfectly in the backdrop of the pure metal slugfest they unleash. Simply awesome.
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These guys have been around soo long & I'm just now discovering them. Damn they're amazing.
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Can't believe I'm just now hearing bolt thrower. These guys are amazing musicians.
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FOR FENRIS AND THE ALLFATHER!!!
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HAIL too BOLT THROWER & WARHAMMER 40k !!!
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THESE GUYS AND GIRL RULE !! HAILS BOLT THROWER !! \M/
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Good band.
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Bolt thrower... reminds me of STALKER
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STALWART.
\m/
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Yeeeeeeah 40k band hehehe
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Awww, McTague97 likes the pretty pictures...
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Don't like this music? FOAD!!!
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I like the album covers, none of this gorey s**t people are obsessed with.
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Yeah! Warhammer 40k!
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I actually like theses guys, got them mixed up with someone else. Weird because them and the other band are nothing alike.
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listened to them for over 20 years noe..!
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You guys are amazing! You show the skill required for metal. Thank you for doing what you do guys :)
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This is awesome lovin it
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yeah okay mctague go listen to your p**sy five finger death punch f**got
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kharne_40000
Warhammer 40k
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This is horrible. I heard Death Metal was brutal. A bunch of satanic people pretending to bad a** is more like it.
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tristanhi88
better then all this tech sht n numetal core crap i hope all those people die slow miserable deaths chug a chug core hater
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carlosfernan d e 2
Love this sh1t... Awesome/heav y / l o v e l y .
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bathory310
Excellent Band, Brutal!!!
Very Brutal!
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BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD
SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE
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Does anyone remember those ads in old comic books for the Gigantic War Army Battle Set, or whatever it was called? Featuring hundreds of little plastic army men and tanks and warships and airplanes and etc.? These guys' cover art reminds me of those ads. In a good way.
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i just ate my grandmothers face listining to these guys
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Oh Bolt Thrower, you have no clue how much I love you right now. I just got rid of some obnoxious douche just with a song. I love this band.
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incredible band. too bad pandora left out ivth crusade, but they have a pretty solid listing nonetheless. not a single bad album out of these guys
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Love these guys !!! Bolt Thrower just doesn't get old !!! to me at least!!
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marvinadamsi i i
In battle there is no law! Unfortunatel y as a former soldier, I can tell you that, now, there are laws. Just imagine the brutality that our military could unleash if we were given the reckless abandon to those who do not abide by the Geneva Convention laws of war.
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Blood for the Blood God
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