"Mercenary" (Metal Blade)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

One of the things I never liked about death metal is the vocals. There's this great, killer music - driving guitars, chunky riffs, quadruple-beat drums. And then this guy starts singing and it sounds like he's been out partying all night and has come into the recording studio only to puke his guts out. Into the microphone. Literally.

Though Bolt Thrower doesn't really qualify as death metal, vocalist Karl Willetts comes dangerously close to the monster vomiting that some death metal vocalists pass off as singing. His vocals are a deep, roaring growl - a growl that has almost no emotion (not even rage) and masks virtually every single lyric (thankfully, the lyrics come printed on the CD insert).

But Karl's growling is actually tolerable. And "Mercenary" is one terrific album. The sheer power and sharpness of the guitar riffs could slit Godzilla's throat. Drummer Alex Thomas must suck oxygen like a black hole after beating the drums as fast and as hard as he does.

Of course, the lyrics are all about death, dying and warfare. But what did you expect from an album called "Mercenary?"

BOLT THROWER is: Baz Thomson, rhythm and lead guitars; Gavin Ward, rhythm guitar; Jo Bench, bass; Alex Thomas, drums; Karl Willetts, vocals.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 1998 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Jun 2018 20:14:10 -0400.