I’ve mentioned before (and will again – us writers, like bands, have our favoured phrases we come back to, like the metaphoric pooch returning to its gut-chunks), but predictability is underrated. And a bloody good thing, too, at times, because back for the fifth time of asking, and spilling their fetid guts for the baying hordes in time honoured Sunlight styled fashion, is Sweden’s Entrails with World Inferno (Metal Blade). Continue reading
The vitality of Stockholm ragers Wolfbrigade is a joy to behold. Nine albums in, and Run With The Hunted (Southern Lord) blisters with the exuberance and wild abandon of a child who has quaffed a crate of Monster, spraying vigour and speedballs of punky virility in all directions with uninhibited elation. Continue reading
Death Metal is a scene that welcomes reverence to the masters and is happy in its conservatism, providing certain aesthetics are adhered to. So, set your HM2 pedals to stun as Newcastle’s (England) Horrified pay tribute with grand devotion at the altar of Entombed as they channel the Sunlight Studios spirit to the max on their crunky Death Metal debut Descent Into Putridity (Momento Mori).
‘Tomb Of Rebirth’ lurches into aural consciousness with a crawling opening riff not entirely dissimilar to ‘Dismembered’ by, um, Dismember, from the legendary Like An Everflowing Stream (Nuclear Blast), before the pace is picked up, and Horrified churn down the Left Hand Path (Earache). The lo-fi production gives a sense of timelessness, like this album could have been a product of the Scandinavian Death Metal explosion of the early 90’s. This is also to their detriment at times, as the power and scything rage of closer ‘Repugnant Degeneration’ is hamstrung by a biscuit tin snare and disappearing toms, while the double kicks sound like a 1970’s typewriter.
But the production is only a small element, and adds to the homage Horrified undertake. Dan Alderson’s sandpapered-throat pitches around the Martin van Drunen mark, and helps draw ‘Narcolepsy’ into the Consuming Impulse (Roadrunner) ballpark, before the song swerves off via Leprosy – era Death (Relapse) and ‘Fall From Grace’ (Blessed Are The Sick, Earache) style Morbid Angel tectonics, raging to a close.
Diversity is not necessarily the name of the game here, but neither have we ventured into the land of the pony with one trick, as a slew of gratifying vari-paced old school riffs tick various boxes, with Horrified parading and espousing an obvious love of classic, dirty Death Metal to their benefit. As the band name may suggest there are also plenty of Repulsion references in some of the grindier and grimier passages, such as the blast that opens of ‘Veil Of Souls’.
You do have to be careful with Death Metal as it’s very easy to end up with a collection filled with thousands of bands not saying anything new or exciting, but all churning out decent enough music that references, but doesn’t better, the greats. That said, a quick dip and a descent into putridity is a good a way to spend half an hour as any.
As far as supergroups go, few come more awesome than Stockholm’s Bloodbath. Formed as a hobby by Katatonia members Anders Nystrom and Jonas Renske along with Opeth mainman MikaelAkerfeldt and producer extraordinaire DanSwano back in 1998 with the simple desire to pump out some filthy old school death metal, it’s unlikely they ever would have expected to become one of the biggest and most well respected bands in the scene, although given their combined status the result was pretty much a foregone conclusion.
After releasing three blood-splattered and evil sounding albums but having to deal with the departure of Akerfeldt and Swano, some might have expected these veterans to stop playing with the corpse and allow it to rot in peace. However the desire to riff fast and ugly is a strong one and a new vocalist has been found in Paradise Lost frontman Nick Holmes whose new role is elementary (I can’t believe you just did that – Ed [and I can’t believe you wrote an ‘Ed insert’ for me – Dep Ed]) given his growling performance on PL’s classic debut record LostParadise (Peaceville).
But is Old Nick’s presence behind the mike enough to ensure Bloodbath remain deadly in a scene rife with sharp-eyed competition? One listen to Grand Morbid Funeral (Peaceville) proves the answer is an emphatic, bellowed yes!
As the serrated riffs of opening track ‘Let the Stillborn Come to Me’ tear out of the speakers like an escaped serial killer on his way to a nearby summer camp, the primal fury of Death Metal is fully revealed in full-blooded, hate-filled form and as the track settles into a disgusting Dismember-esque groove, you’re reminded just how much this music kicks ass and lops off heads with abandon. The buzzsaw guitar sound, as much a part of the Swe-death scene as any notable record you could care to mention, is heavily evident in the marching attack of ‘Total Death Exhumed’ which also features some suitably gloomy lead-work, while the ramshackle chugging of ‘Anne’ evokes images of a demented butcher manically hacking apart corpses in some benighted slaughterhouse.
Bloodbath records have always relied on frantic pace and aggression to get their gruesome message across and while they may lack the precision of Cannibal Corpse or the bad-time grooves of latter day Entombed, their modus operandi is built on a basis of seeing how many people they can kill in the room with a rusty chainsaw before the police take them down, rather than methodically picking off victims. It’s a messy approach, aided by a suitably grimy production but which gives proceedings a rabid and unclean feel, and when they do slow things down slightly such as on the gut-wrenching crawl of ‘Church of Vastitas’ and the grotesque melodies of the title track, the atmosphere drops to especially ghastly levels of hopelessness.
Nystrom and fellow axeman Per Eriksson focus more on tearing our minds apart with a seemingly endless selection of slashing riffs, gloomy melodies and frantic solos while drummer Martin Axenrot flays the skins with an unfussy, methodical determination. Holmes may not have the deepest growl and he is buried too deep in the mix to have a massive impact but his sinister tones give the music a depraved grandeur and when all of these elements combine like on the unrestrained ferocity of ‘Famine of God’s World’ and the monstrous ‘Beyond Cremation’ you’ll be wishing that all the members quit their day jobs and focus on pumping out more of this filth every other year.
There’s enough elements of the US death metal scene to ensure that this isn’t just a caricature of the Stockholm sound, but it’s undeniable that Bloodbath are to all intents and purposes a nostalgia act and a way for a bunch of blokes nearing their 40s to act like they were teenagers again. But some of the best death metal albums were made by whippersnappers so as long as this bunch of morbid Swedes and one ghoulish Brit keep failing to act their age, the world of extreme metal will stay suitably macabre.