Archive review: Bolt Thrower – In Battle There Is No Law

Album: Bolt Thrower – In Battle There is No Law

Release date: 1988

Label: Demo (self-released)

It’s hard to fault a first attempt at anything. Therefore it’s difficult for me to review In Battle There is No Law, because a part of me wants to rip it to shreds and another part of me wants to shrug its shoulders.

I suppose the best comparison of this scenario would be to Cannibal Corpse’s Eaten Back to Life, an album poorly conceived but deliciously, cannibalistically fun. But for some reason, I don’t feel mirthful when I try to rock out to In Battle. I don’t know why. The energy is definitely there. This is a spasm of an album played as fast as possible with reckless abandon. A bit Kreator, a bit Carcass, a bit Napalm Death, Bolt Thrower’s freshmen effort is one of the lesser-known but just as important albums to sit alongside Pleasure to Kill, Reek of Putrefaction, and Scum, respectively. And like those albums, it is thinly produced and poorly executed. Yet unlike those albums, its lasting power has somewhat diminished. The riffs are pretty good but you can’t tell by listening to this. This isn’t Honour Valour Pride and this isn’t Mercenary. This isn’t mid-paced, thick riffing in signature Egyptian scales.

So, of course it’s the odd card out of the Bolt Thrower library, one that is often cited as every song and album sounding the same. Every song sounds the same on IBTINL but the overall effect is different than anything the band will later produce. This is unpolished, prepubescent filth. If you like bad, DIY (do it yourself) albums and demos, you’ll like this. Just remember that all your favorite death metal bands sounded this bad back in the late 80’s.

Favorite track: In Battle There Is No Law (very chant-worthy!)


4 out of 10 stars