Bolt Thrower - Mercenary review


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Band: Bolt Thrower
Album: Mercenary
Release date: 1998

01. Zeroed
02. Laid To Waste
03. Return From Chaos
04. Mercenary
05. To The Last...
06. Powder Burns
07. Behind Enemy Lines
08. No Guts, No Glory
09. Sixth Chapter
10. Infiltrator [limited edition digipack bonus]

Album number six finds British death metal stalwarts Bolt Thrower sounding tired and worn. They had perfected their sound with 1994's …For Victory but now, four years later, found themselves replicating the same formula without as much success.

All the elements that make a Bolt Thrower album are there: dense guitars playing groovy riffs and Karl Willets' deep guttural vocals spewing war obsessed lyrics. But there is a certain spark missing that relegates Mercenary to a mediocre affair.

Firstly, the songs just aren't as memorable as on the predecessor …For Victory or 2005's Those Once Loyal. The only song that seems to stick out is "No Guts, No Glory" and even that is an average affair when compared to "When Glory Beckons" or "Lest We Forget" from For Victory.

The performances are satisfactory yet predictable. There is a distinct lack of dynamics and the production is somewhat flat.

The album is still listenable, albeit more as background music than an active listening session. Otherwise it all gets too boring too quickly. Some of the problems could be attributed to the even further simplification of their trademark sound.

Perhaps it was a sign of the times. By 1998 Death Metal had already reached saturation point and the older veteran bands were struggling to stay fresh (e.g. Cannibal Corpse's Gallery of Suicide or Obituary's Back From The Dead.

The album's distinct mediocrity may also be a result of obvious band turmoil, with vocalist Karl Willets obviously wanting out.

Ultimately this is an album for completists. First time listeners would find it better to check out …For Victory and Those Once Loyal or for those interested in a more grind base approach Realms of Chaos.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 7
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 6
Production: 5

Written by deadone | 16.01.2014


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.


Comments: 3   Visited by: 93 users
16.01.2014 - 08:28
Troy Killjoy
I don't think this is nearly as bad as you make it out to be, although a 6.5 is still a fairly decent score. I did find the production to be a little flat but I appreciated the stripped down version of For Victory. I also agree that "No Guts, No Glory" is the standout track here but I still have "Zeroed" and "Behind Enemy Lines" on most of my death metal playlists.
"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something."
11.04.2014 - 04:46
Mercenary was one of the first Death Metal songs that hooked me. Simple but good. I Concur with Troy with the rating, it should be higher.

Personally I'd put it around 7.2. I really like tracks 1 and 4-8 but the other tracks are pretty average. as you said Deadone, with song structures here so simple a boring riff just don't work.. I still really like Bolt Thrower, don't get me wrong! They do a lot while keeping it minimal and probably (even though it don't matter too much) have the most tasteful war themed lyrics out there.
20.02.2021 - 21:49

Very good record, with some great moments, but not on the level of álbums such as "Warmaster", "IV Crusade" and miles away from "...For Victory", imo.

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