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Bolt Thrower - The IVth Crusade
Review: As a band grows, its members find new ground to explore and if they have a strong vision, do not get sidetracked into exploring technique for its own sake but instead adapt that technique to the original but now expanded mission of the band, which is what Bolt Thrower did with The IVth Crusade: they applied Iron Maiden-style melodic riffing to their grinding works, notably in the melodic lead riffing fills that follow grinding rhythm riffs set in opposition to produce a sense of movement sliding out from under abrasion.
With The IVth Crusade, Bolt Thrower move out of their first mature stage and into a second which is marked by not only the more obvious melodic song construction but a more explicit statement of epic conflict in themes and imagery, with more song structure experimentation to match. Compared to the album to follow, this work is more diverse in varied structures but per the nature of experimentation, loses some degree of intensity as complexity causes song narrative to veer away from its most recognizable themes.
In the construction of spacious and definitive song structures, the use of resonant melody opposing chromatic rhythm riffing, and the attempt to shape the album around a concept where songs get more abstract until it concludes in the dirge "Through the Ages" in which melodic doom riffs underscore a reverberating chant of English warfare from ancient to modern times, this album reveals not only the influence of the Swedish death metal that formed death metal's cutting edge at the time, but an effort to grow into both style and artistic substance.
Although this album is not as finished as ...For Victory, it retains the rough and somewhat irregular approach that imbues Warmaster with dense layers of personality, and in its internal struggle for clarity finds a moving vision of what it is to grapple with these issues, as if in a parallel to young warriors attempting to locate the meaning that enables transition to adulthood and the sacrifice that entails. For these reasons, this album remains a perpetual favorite among those who find a harmony of meaning in the art of Bolt Thrower.