Tuesday, 3 July 2012

BOLT THROWER - The IVth Crusade (1992)

01  The IVth Crusade
02  Icon
03  Embers
04  Where Next To Conquer
05  As The World Burns
06  This Time It's War
07  Ritual
08  Spearhead
09  Celestial Sanctuary
10  Dying Creed
11  Through The Ages

'The IVth Crusade' is the fourth studio album by the British death metal band Bolt Thrower. It was recorded at Sawmill Studios in August 1992 and produced by Bolt Thrower and Colin Richardson. The album was released by Earache Records in October 1992 with the title coming from the Fourth Crusade and the capturing of Constantinople. The cover artwork is a painting from Eugène Delacroix, showing "The Entry of the Crusaders in Constantinople".

The music on here is mainly mid-paced, old-school Death Metal, which is exactly what this band is known for. However, they also throw in the occasional fast passage, something they have almost completely abandoned nowadays. Still, variation is a big problem with this record: while you really can’t say anything negative about the individual songs, it is also quite hard to discuss them one by one, because they all tend to just run together in a way, i.e. they are not very distinguishable. Apart from some melodic lead passages, the songs sound very much the same, and that made me lose interest in the album relatively quickly. The Drum rhythms are largely devoid of blast beats but have lots of double bass, overall Andy Whale (who was never going to win any awards for technicality) manages to play some competent fills through the album that suit the band's music. The drums are kept back in the mix and not allowed to overshadow everything else, while Karl Willetts vocals are at the forefront of the action but perfectly counterbalanced by the instrumentation. Unfortunately, and as with just about Bolt Thrower release, the bass is there but doesn't stand out very well. They managed to correct this persistent problem on "Those Once Loyal," but here the bass work is hard to pick out of everything else going on here.

'The IVth Crusade' receives a lot of praise for its patient songwriting and simple-yet-effective riffs. I can see where that's coming from, but what I don't understand is the alleged slegdehammer-like effect it's supposed to have on the listener. Might be my eyes speaking (the artwork would fit a NWOBHM-style album a lot better), but the earth-flattening power of Bolt Thrower in their early days is nowhere to be found. So, I'm still very much of the opinion that this record is one of the weakest entries into Bolt Thrower's otherwise solid discography.

Highlights: "Where Next To Conquer," "This Time It's War," "Ritual," "Spearhead"

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