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Straight out, 100% may seem excessive unless the person is biased. Admittedly, I am a big Bloodbath fan - but this album is just about perfect.
Up until two years ago, I had no idea who Bloodbath were. My knowledge of metal extended to Slayer, old school Metallica and Cannibal Corpse. A friend of mine gave me a copy of Breeding Death and Resurrection Through Carnage to listen to - from that point, I was introduced to Opeth, Katatonia, Edge of Sanity, Infestdead, Ribspreader, Hypocrisy - which then had me looking into Behemoth, which led to Nile.... you get the point. So Bloodbath, being the band that really introduced me to the whole extreme metal scene, have a special place in my heart.
I was excited as hell when I heard that Bloodbath were doing a new album. I was discouraged a little to hear that Mike was not going to be a part of it, until I heard that Evil Pete was taking over vocal duties, and that a full time drummer was being added in Axe - leaving Swano free to carve things up a bit with Blakkheim. I knew as soon as I heard this news that the new album would kick ass; the question was just exactly how much ass it would kick. How surprised I was....
Each of the 12 tracks were either written or co-written by the three surviving, founding members of the band. As a result, in each track you hear various influences from each of the other bands these guys play in - in particular, a lot of Edge of Sanity and Diabolical Masquerade can be found. This isn't a bad thing either. Despite this, a distinctly old school Swedish death sound prevails.
One thing the listener will notice straight away is the difference between each of the three albums. Breeding Death was distinctly old school . Resurrection was a little more, dare I say, experimental. It was still pretty good, but sounded a little unpolished, incomplete. Nightmares Made Flesh completely changes things. It is a far more technical album, due in part to the addition of a full time drummer and a second guitarist. The addition of Pete certainly didn't hurt things. I'll probably cop a bit of shit for saying this, but I prefer his vocals to Mikes. Mike is deep and brutal as hell, but Pete is a little clearer and he can also hit the black metal style scream when it's required. That in itself really adds something to the mix; another dimension of evil.
In terms of songwriting, each of the tracks penned by Blakkheim and Swano are brilliant. The Renske tracks are still very good, but initially required me to listen two or three times to really appreciate them. Feeding the Undead did at least.
I won't analyse the album track by track - but I will mention track number six, Eaten. This is my favourite track off the album by far, and its also the most brutal track. Swano reportedly based the track on that German dude that ate the other dude he met online. The lyrics are probably something you'd hear more on a grind or gore album, not quite as extreme. Petes vocals here are unbelieveable - deep, gutteral - yet clear as a bell. Pounding drums and chugging riffs sound like they're the go, until a Diabolical Masquerade style interlude takes over. The track ends with Pete screaming, black metal style, "Desecrate me, tear me limb from limb, eviscerate me, chew me to death!" before finishing deep and brutal.
That piece right there really sums up the album - brutal, technical, influenced not only by the old school Swedish acts but also by bands the members are involved in, and a sensational mix of various genres and sub-genres of metal - death, black, thrash, gore, progressive....
Bloodbath have recorded a winner here. I would go so far as to say this will be a major contender for album of the decade, only half way through - even amongst the company of Hypocrisys Virus, Niles Annihilation of the Wicked, Behemoths Demigod - sheer fucking death metal brilliance.