Unblessing The Purity
Amongst my fellow death metal comrades, Bloodbath is hallowed ground. They are a supergroup to say the least, featuring current and former members of Opeth, Katatonia, Hypocrisy, Edge of Sanity, Witchery, as well as a few others. What Bloodbath deals is straight death metal. However, there has been a bit of a progression from their debut Breeding Death EP to this latest offering, a progression that I'm not altogether excited about.
What initially drew many of us to Bloodbath was how very shameless they were in their regurgitation of circa 1992 death metal. From the cover artwork of Breeding Death, to the tongue-in-cheek Dismember fuzz of Resurrection Through Carnage, it was like a time machine. Somewhere in between the remarkable Resurrection and its worthy follow-up, Nightmares Made Flesh, the band started to take things a bit more seriously. NMF featured a much more modern sounding production along with a more technical death metal approach. With that in mind, "Eaten" is still one of the best death metal songs ever.
The latest installment in the Bloodbath saga is Unblessing the Purity. It is a long overdue but very short and to the point four song EP. The band more or less picks up where they left off on Nightmares Made Flesh despite a shake up in the core lineup. The band ousted guitarist Dan Swano (in favor of 21 Lucifers' Per Eriksson) in the time between this release and Nightmares Made Flesh. While I understand that "these things happen", the absence of Swano is somewhat noticable.
The major issue with Unblessing is that, while it's undeniably good, it doesn't have what made Nightmares and Resurrection such a goose bump inducing listen. What I enjoyed most about the first three releases (especially Resurrection) was the novelty aspect. It was a tribute to death metal from guys who play in bands that dabble in death metal. It was interesting to hear Anders Nystrom's take on death metal guitar tone, as well as hearing an unbridled Akerfeldt (or Peter Tagtgren) unleash death metal hell. Now, it's almost as if there's some kind of creative paradox here. Bloodbath has found their 'own sound', but with finding that 'sound', what makes it Bloodbath is seemingly absent.
On the brighter side of things, Mikael Akerfeldt sounds unbelievable. He gets downright guttural here as this is, by far, the fastest and heaviest thing he's done to date. It's good to hear that he can hold his own against the George Fishers and Frank Mullens of the world. New guitarist, Per, does well here with some bluesy solos and solid rhythms. I'd like to say he fills some big shoes well, but it's difficult to differentiate the guitars on this release. This could be attributed to not having Dan Swano in the band anymore. Martin Axenrot also returns on drums. I'm usually not partial to blastbeats but it's great to see what this guy can do at full throttle. Although his drums could have been much, much higher in the mix. They don't fully resonate so it's difficult to tell what he's doing at points.
The break down on "Blasting the Virginborn" is very late period Cannibal Corpse with all diminished hammer-ons in tow. "Weak Aside" is the most memorable song on Unblessing. It has a great driving verse riff that is somewhat comparable to the chorus of "Brave New Hell" (Nightmares Made Flesh). It goes everywhere tempo-wise and Akerfeldt sounds completely demonic. "Mouth of Empty Praise" is decent as well, although after hearing it about 17 times, it doesn't sync to the mental iPod.
Placing second in the 'opportunity to be had' department is the production. It's crisp, sure, but the guitars are very very loud and get a little too muddy. It's hard to hear what's going on at times in the guitar department while Akerfeldt and the drums are buried deep in the mix. It's really too bad as it sounds like there are some interesting riffs in there.....somewhere.
This is my least favorite Bloodbath release to date. Every release so far has had a stand out track that really gets my tail wagging, but UTP doesn't have that one song. It's not that it's an awful release, it's just that it's not unbelievably awesome and that was the expectation. There's no "Eaten" or "Cry My Name" to be found here. The closest we get is "Weak Aside" and while it's a good song, it could also pass as a b-side from Nightmares Made Flesh.
Lash all you want, I'm not overly thrilled with this installment. It does make some excitement for new Opeth and Katatonia albums and maybe a thought out full length from Bloodbath, but there's just something missing here that wasn't missing on the other releases. The finger can't necessarily be pointed at the absence of Dan Swano, although just maybe, it's not coincidence. Like most of the bands that Bloodbath emulates, I like the old stuff better.
Bloodbath Over Bloodstock
The Fathomless Mastery
Nightmares Made Flesh
Resurrection Through Carnage