Hard Reviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Bolt Thrower - Honour - Valour - Pride
(Metal Blade)

Man, after all the acceleration and shock of metal's last three years, this almost sounds like child's play, Bolt Thrower creating what in today's world is dry, hummable, accessible death similar to the catchy pop tunes Six Feet Under have more or less abandoned. Won't win any awards for originality, but there's a strength of song here, a plodding methodical plan that has the band finding a couple good ideas per ditty and driving them home like army boots through mud, rockets red glaring overhead, rain rotting through fatigues. Strangely obsolete, yes, but man, one can envision this material clinking multiple frothy pints live, its pure metal deconstruction built for the many miserable limitations of the hovels in which the band must do combat.
Rating 7

Solefald - Pills Against The Ageless Ills
(Century Media)

Three varied albums now for this creatively exploded Norwegian duo, Solefald back with an album less phreaked than Neonism, slicker, classier, more majestically modern black. Sort of a cross between Satyricon, Sigh and commercial Strapping, the idea here is healthy, fecund musical madness, but the locked discipline of the thing pushes it high-minded and academic. The base is progressive black metal, but there's an English eccentricity to it, especially in the Peter Hammill-ish/Vintersorg-ian vocals. Arrangements simply and authoritatively tower, and dark majestic melodies, which often verge on goth, weave through every track with a sense of unease. The album is some sort of sick conceptual piece about two brothers, one a pornographer, one a philosopher, but hey, I've got stacks of books to read, so I doubt I'll ever get around to either intensifying or dampening my pleasure of this formidably elaborate album through dissecting its literary depravity.
Rating 9

Hard Reviews Page 4