BOLT THROWER - Warmaster (EARACHE LP 1991)
I have a friend, who’s big death metal maniac and who keeps saying that “Warmaster” is in his opinion a complete and perfect death metal album, without even one bad song, one bad riff or one dull moment. Damn, I have to agree with him, even if it’s not my favourite Bolt Thrower album. But this album’s biggest strength is that from start to finish we’re bombarded with excellent riffs, great, powerful drumming and fantastic, vicious vocals of Karl Willets. All songs are killer, the riffs and arrangements are so damn nice here… And above everything else Bolt Thrower has their own style, which on this album has crystallized fully. This style was only beginning to form on the previous albums, on “Realm of Chaos” there were songs like “World Eater” and “Eternal War”, which combined the powerful, massive heaviness and that sort of groovy riffage, even with a small dose of melody. “Warmaster” brings that all, but multiplied and perfected. At the same time this album basically leaves behind all the crust or grind influences, which were a part of Bolt Thrower style on the earlier albums, “In Battle There’s No Law” especially. In my opinion “Warmaster” is a pure, old school death metal record, which sounds like the bombers were dropping the bombs over the city or a squadron of tanks was coming, destroying everything on their way. This is how the music of Bolt Thrower sounds, according to me.
And of course war is a main lyrical theme for Bolt Thrower albums. But in case of “Warmaster” it’s more like a social theme, with rather pessimistic lyrics dealing with the problems of modern civilisation, technologies that the people are using to erase their kind, sicknesses of mind, fears, end of the mankind, wars… I suppose that only “Rebirth of Humanity” is more optimistic saying that “from the wreckage of civilisation, through the ruins of this world, man shall rise to power and grow in strength once more. But will man seek to destroy…”, which is also like a warning.
But let’s back to the music. Bolt Thrower was able to create that very characteristic sound and aura, which makes them very recognisable and outstanding band. Their music is rather simple, it’s not super technical and fancy shit, but this is also why it’s more straight forward, brutal and neck breaking. Their riff style is unique and the whole is far from being monotonous and one dimensional, with lots of variations between all songs. There’re some faster tracks like “The Shreds of Sanity” and “Rebirth of Humanity”, which may still have that very, very slight grind core influence. And there are slower, massively heavy monoliths like “Profane Creation” and “Final Revelation”. But the majority of the album is played in crushing mid paced way. Some traces of melody can also be heard, like in “Cenotaph”, which surely is the most known song from the whole record. I still remember that I saw the video for it in MTV’s Headbangers Ball and it was the first time I heard Bolt Thrower music. Damn, “Cenotaph” is such a strong song and one, which sums the album perfectly.
The greatest thing about “Warmaster” and Bolt Thrower is that they put a great care on the powerful sounding, heavy, beastly riff. Their music is not as technical and complex as Suffocation’s or Cannibal Corpse’s, it’s actually very straight forward, quite simple, almost kind of groovy old school death metal, but this is probably why it’s so easily listenable and why it punches so hard. And it’s memorable, catchy, which is even more stunning if you consider how heavy and brutal this record is. I guess the only thing that I don’t like so much about “Warmaster” is the artwork. I mean it’s OK, but it would fit some gay power fantasy bands rather than brutal death metal act. It’s nice artwork, but I would rather see something different here, especially that I also don’t like this logo they started to use with “Realm of Chaos”. I love the old logo much more!
Standout tracks: “Cenotaph”, “Profane Creation”, “The Shreds of Sanity”
Final rate: 85/100