When: Sun., June 2, 7 p.m. 2013
This weekend’s Bolt Thrower shows both sold out in a few hours almost four months ago, and for the benefit of everyone who didn’t know that already I’m going to try to explain why. Formed in Coventry in 1986, these legendary UK war machines have been called “the AC/DC of death metal,” and since 1991, when they dropped blastbeats from their songs, Bolt Thrower have been refining a stripped-down, deceptively simple style that combines merciless martial drive with infectious groove. They depart from the AC/DC comparison, though, in that they refuse to make an album that doesn’t meet the high standards they’ve already set. I know that sounds like music-writer bullshit, but hang on: In June 2008, three years after releasing their eighth and still most recent record, Those Once Loyal, the band made a statement explaining their decision to scrap the material they’d written since. “We know everybody says that their new album is better than their last, but with us we really believed that,” it said. “From day one we made it clear that we’d stop recording when we felt we’d written the ultimate Bolt Thrower album; we just never knew when that would be.” I realize some fans will always prefer, say, 1989’s Realm of Chaos (“World Eater,” anyone?), but for me the skill and focus that the band gained in the intervening 16 years—to say nothing of the vastly improved production—more than validate Bolt Thrower’s claim that Those Once Loyal is the perfect expression of their swinging sledgehammer of a style. These are the best riffs in death metal, period stop. Come at me, bro. —Philip Montoro Benediction and Witchbanger open.