Bolt Thrower Calls It Quits in a Respectful Homage to Martin ‘Kiddie’ Kearns


We honor someone who must be honored.

Like the loss of a brave soldier after his last battle, the passing of Martin ‘Kiddie’ Kearns deeply impacted the life of legendary death metal band Bolt Thrower. The drummer was an integral part of this platoon since 1994, when he was only 17 years old, taking a brief furlough from operations in 1997 and returning in 1999 until his physical departure. A year after his sad passing, this pioneering band broke the silence and answered to the question constantly asked by fans: are they coming back?

Published on their official website, Karl Willets, Gavin Ward, Barry Thomson and Jo Bench released a final statement about the destiny of the band in which they declared the cessation of all operations of their 30-year brotherhood.

In their words:

“When Kiddie joined us back in 1994, although he was only 17, he instantly improved Bolt Thrower as a live band, and no one was more loyal to, and prouder to be in Bolt Thrower than him.

We spent over 20 years together, touring the world, with 3 different vocalists, but he was so much more than just a drummer to us. So when we carried his coffin to his final resting place, the Bolt Thrower drummer position was buried with him. He was, and will now forever remain THE Bolt Thrower drummer, our Powerhouse and friend Martin ‘Kiddie’ Kearns.”

kiddie3Debuting with 2001’s full length, Valour – Honour – Pride, Kearns did an impressive job keeping the pace of the juggernaut sized rhythm section of the band, beefing up the already original and monstrous riffs. He also did a great work in live settings, in which he shined with tight performances and incredible sound. Bolt Thrower was a well-oiled machine that destroyed all stages and satisfied their fan base with pit-inducing anthems. Those Once Loyal was the last studio album played by Kearns and is declared by many followers as one of the best releases of their entire catalog, condensing with mastery all the powder and steel recollected in all their career.

Paving the road for many extreme metal acts, the stomping rhythmic hammering of Bolt Thrower is constantly named as a big influence on the death metal genre. First influenced by the lore of the Tabletop RPG Game Warhammer 40,000, the band moved to a more serious lyrical and aesthetic concept. Overall, the cohesive nature of their  style is still regarded and remembered for their effectiveness and consistency; talking about war, battles and the code of honor behind all of the violent nature of mankind, the band distanced themselves from the regular gore thematic that was a staple in the 80s incipient death metal genre to embrace a meta-speech in which they explored ethical and moral topics of how people struggle and fight in a war called life.

As a tribute to his friend, vocalist Karl Willets posted to his Twitter account photos of an intimate tribute to Kearns; meanwhile fans around the globe shared their favorite memories of the band’s live shows, photographs, and their favorite songs as a way to express the never-ending brotherhood to the mighty Bolt Thrower.

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We raise a toast to you, Martin and everyone in Bolt Thrower. Thank you all for your work in extreme metal. Respect to the fallen, you will never be forgotten.


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  • Ayreonaut

    NNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! 1!1!1!1!!!!1—-!!!!!111

  • tigeraid

    I’ll reiterate:


  • tigeraid

    But seriously, it’s understandable. I wish them well. They have a great discography to look back on, anyway.

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    Though this is a sad moment in Heavy Metal, it is a very honorable and fitting tribute to the man. Which is what really matters. Godspeed Bolt Thrower.

  • Mosh Hoff

    Man, I’m triple glad now that I got to catch some of their set a few years back…

    Great writeup Link, even if under not good circumstances.

  • Howard Dean
  • RIP Everything good about this world

  • The one Bolt Thrower gig I got to see was the hottest and most violent show I’ve ever witnessed. I’m glad Karl is carrying on with Memoriam.

    • I’m more than eager to listen Memoriam, Karl was saying that they are going to enter the studio next week to record their debut.

      I think a lot of other bands should learn from Bolt Thrower and embrace a more “brotherhood” styled company in their core. It was a fittable tribute to their friend.

    • Elegant Gazing Globe

      That hellfire demo pulverizes like a battallion of tanks

  • This band is so good that they had to play MDF TWICE the same fucking year!

  • This is a nice send off Link. I only followed BT up to For Victory, how do the albums that follow stack up?

    • I like Mercenary and Those Once Loyal!

      They didn’t released more music after Those Once Loyal, because that was like their definite album.

      • RJA

        Mercenary and Those Once Loyal are worth a listen for sure.

      • I need to clone myself to catch up with all the music I want listen to, but when I get a reprieve, I’ll get down with these. Thanks Honorable Half Elf!

        • Howard Dean

          Literally skip 3/4 of the new music you want to check out and listen to the entire Bolt Thrower discography instead. Seriously.

          • I pretty much skip 3/4 as it is, so I’m halfway there.

          • Howard Dean

            Adjustment: Skip 9/10ths. Or all of it.

        • I exist to serve, my friend.

        • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

          Those Once Loyal is usually looked up to as one of their best, and personally I love the ones in between too.
          Also What HD said, skip 3/4 of the new and old music you were going to listen to and do BT instead.

  • Most power metal looking death metal logo ever too. Way to fuck the system Bolt Thrower. You are a real winner.

  • Simon PhoenixKing Rising

    In a world of compromise, some don’t.

    Go with the elders, Bolt Thrower. You will be missed.

  • Waynecro

    Excellent write-up, Link!

  • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

    Wait…was McNulty in Bolt Thrower?

    • I dunno, we’d better ask Tapir for confirmation….

      • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

        But that guy on the far left?

  • Max

    I’m only two years older than Kearns. I can imagine what it would have been like for a 17 year-old joining Bolt Thrower; for me it would be like getting asked to join Carcass or something. He must have been pretty stoked. A short life but no doubt a fulfilling one.