With the sudden and unexpected tragic death of Bolt Thrower’s drummer, Martin Kearns (affectionately known as ‘Kiddie’) I figured we would take a look at what is easily one of the best and most important metal albums of all time: Bolt Thrower’s 1993 release The IVth Crusade. The album marked a switch for Bolt Thrower as they dropped the speed, thickened the bottom end and essentially invented death doom as we know it today. And yes, Martin Kearns didn’t play on the album, Andy Whale did, Kearns spent over twenty-one years playing these tracks live.
The actual IVth Crusade was an attempt by the Western European Catholics (both Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic) to retake what was then a Muslim controlled Jerusalem. The giant kill-fest occurred between 1202 and 1204 A.D. In an ironic twist of fate, the attack was launched by Pope Innocent III. (Not a very “innocent” guy but, then again, what Pope is?) Despite sacking cities in their path, murdering, pillaging and raping along their way, this Crusade, like many others, was ultimately a failure. The legacy remains, albeit a legacy of violence, cruelty and destruction all in the name of God and Jesus (The Holy Ghost got left behind). In fact, it has been said that, “There was never a greater crime against humanity than the Fourth Crusade” – Steven Runciman. Fortunately for metal fans, the legacy of The IVth Crusade the album is much cheerier.
On a sad note, and to put the death of Martin Kearns in perspective, Bolt Thrower was formed in 1986. Kearns, who joined the band in 1994 spent more than half of his entire life (twenty-one years) behind the kit for Bolt Thrower. The band pumped out album after album of intoxicating music full of killer riffs and doom-laden death metal after his arrival. Kearns will be forever missed, and hopefully, Bolt Thrower will find a way to continue (they always have).