Review Summary: An otherwise great record that just feels like its missing something
During their time, Bolt Thrower were widely considered to be among the most legendary bands in death metal. Their distinctive style of super heavy, mid tempo, riffing and historically accurate, war focused lyrics put them apart from the hordes of gore obsessed death metal acts who often seemed more concerned with shock value than crafting good songs. This was reinforced by the band's sheer consistency- Bolt Thrower managed to release great album after great album, even when many bigger death metal bands began to decline quality, yet their seventh full length album, "Honour Valour Pride," is often glossed over or forgetten about entirely. Why is this?
Well the answer is simply that original frontman Karl Willetts, who's vicious growls and historical lyricism were an essential part of the band's distinct sound. Karl had left the band after their previous album, "For Victory" for personal reasons and in his place joined Benediction vocalist Dave Ingram. Now Dave is by no means a bad vocalist, but his style just doesn't vibe well with Bolt Thrower. His voice lacks that distinct bite that Karl had and his performance here feels weaker and more phoned in than his work in Benediction. The lyrics seem to have taken a hit too, while they still deal with the usual theme of war, they seem to be pretty vague and generalized; with songs about Sabateurs("Inside the Wire"), genocide("7th Offensive"), and hidden agendas("Covert Ascension") as opposed to Karl's lyrics which often directly described certain historical conflicts with great detail and accuracy.
Its a shame really, because outside of those factors "Honour Valour Pride," is classic Bolt Thrower through and through. Their signature style of groovy riffs are, the rolling double bass drums, and generally bleak atmosphere are all here in spades and hit just as hard as any other Bolt Thrower album. They even throw in some nice melodic solos like in the opening of "7th Offensive" to shake things up a little. This is all complimented by the band's most modern production job yet; the album sounds full and crisp without being overly clean as a lot of 2000s extreme metal tended to be. The guitar tone in particular is absolutely pulverizing. The band perhaps could have stood to throw in some variety though, as the tracks do somewhat blend together in the second half.
"Honour Valour Pride" could very well have been considered among Bolt Thrower's best albums if not for its unfortunate change in vocalists and slightly repetitive nature. That being said, its still a great slab of death metal that any fan of the genre should be able to enjoy even despite its faults.