Karl Willetts: Vocals
Barry Thomson: Guitar
Gavin Ward: Guitar
Jo Bench: Bass
Martin Kearns: Drums
BOLT THROWER were formed in 1986 by Barry Thomson (guitar) and Gavin Ward (bass). They were soon joined by Alan West (vocals), and completed the line-up with the addition of Andy Whale (drums). Inspired at that time by bands such as Sacrilege, Discharge, Slayer and Candlemass, the four piece went on to record two demos ‘In Battle…’ and ‘Concession of Pain’ – the latter was sent to the late, great, John Peel which resulted in the band being offered a session. At this time Gavin Ward decided to switch to guitar and then recruited Jo Bench on bass to complete the five-piece line-up. At the start of 1988, BOLT THROWER recorded their first Peel Session; after the transmission was aired Vinyl Solution contacted the band and a deal was agreed. Unfortunately, Alan West decided that he no longer wanted to carry on with the band and was replaced by Karl Willetts. With this line-up they went on to record the album ‘In Battle There Is No Law’ recorded at Loco Studios in Wales and released in the summer of 1988.
After constant gigging around the UK, the band was contacted by both Earache Records and war gaming company, Games Workshop. The result was ‘Realm of Chaos’ the band’s second studio album, and was released on Earache Records in 1989, and featured cover and booklet artwork from the artists at Games Workshop.
The band was also honoured with the opportunity to record two more Peel Sessions (which were later released as an album). Bolt Thrower were starting to create a reputation of being one of the most powerful live acts around when they made their first tour of Europe in 1990. At the start of 1991 they recorded ‘Warmaster’ at Slaughterhouse Studios, Driffield with Colin Richardson producing and went on to do another successful tour of Europe and the U.S.
Next came ‘The IVth Crusade’ – recorded at Sawmills Studios in Cornwall in 1992, it showed the band had continued to create their own unique style of music that was easily identifiable as BOLT THROWER. The band promoted the album extensively with tours in Europe and Australia. The recording of ‘…For Victory’ in 1994, (at Sawmills, again), was immediately followed by the bands second tour of the U.S. This unfortunately saw the departure of drummer Andy Whale and vocalist Karl Willetts, who decided they didn’t want to continue in the band. But the album was released later in the year and the band replaced them with drummer Martin Kearns and Martin Van Drunen on vocals.
With this line-up the band carried on the promotion of the album with two European tours.
The next couple of years turned into an endurance test for the band with Van Drunen leaving due to illness, the ending of the bands relations with Earache Records, the subsequent signing to Metal Blade Records, and the eventual departure of Martin Kearns. Kearns went on to be replaced by Alex Thomas for the recording of the first release on Metal Blade – ‘Mercenary’, (1998), and the vocalist on this album was to be the re-instated Karl Willetts. But Willetts found he was unable to commit to touring, so Dave Ingram (who had recently left Benediction), filled his position.
‘Mercenary’ was greatly received all over the world – in particular Germany, where it made the band’s first entry in the German album charts. Another sold-out tour of Europe followed, and so did another departure, this time it was drummer Alex Thomas. Martin Kearns was re-recruited, just in time to do the ‘Full Force’ festival for the second time, and joined again as a full time member.
In January 2001, the band did a few dates in Holland and Germany, re-affirming their status as one of the best live acts around. Inspired by the response from the shows, the band went straight into the studio to record their 7th album – ‘Honour, Valour, Pride’. The album was once again highly received by both the press and the fans, and a European tour with Dave’s former band mates Benediction followed in 2002.
The band’s next major show was to be the Rock Hard anniversary festival, but unfortunately for the band and the fans, they had to cancel the show, due to the birth of Dave’s baby. A few months later, when the band were beginning to write material for their 8th album, Ingram decided he was unable to continue in the band and the remaining members found themselves faced with the dilemma of who to replace him with.
Ex-member Karl Willetts was the first port of call, and much to the joy of everyone involved, he instantly agreed to re-join as a full time member of the band again. Karl warmed-up his voice straight away, by re-recording his vocals on a demo version of HVP; the results showed that his vocal ability was still there in force.
With the line-up complete once again, the next few months were spent writing and re-writing the new material until the band were 100% satisfied with the completed songs. The band spent the summer of 2005 recording the new material, and the results will be revealed soon when the band unleashes their 8th studio album at the end of the year. A European tour is already booked for 2006 and more tours are being planned. The future is looking good.