Label: Metal Blade Records
Too many bands carry on when their best days are behind them, releasing material that doesn’t compare at all with what they have already done. So whilst it’s sad that we will never have another album from Bolt Thrower – especially considering the circumstances around them disbanding, following the death of drummer Martin Kearns – all credit should be given to the band for not releasing material that they were unhappy with. It leaves Those Once Loyal standing as a fine monument to the band’s memory, being the equal of any of their earlier, classic albums, and leaving the memory of one of the best British death metal bands utterly untarnished.
Whilst Those Once Loyal doesn’t do anything too radical with Bolt Thrower’s core death metal sound – one that was, by this point, long-established – what it does do is extremely effective. Songs such as ‘The Killchain’ and ‘Anti-Tank (Dead Armour)’ are as powerful and epic as anything else in the band’s repertoire, being crushing proclamations against the horrors of war. If you want to know why so many still miss this band so deeply, and why there’s so much excitement around vocalist Karl Willett’s post-Bolt Thrower band Memoriam, then Those Once Loyal is a prime place to start.