Release DetailsLABEL Century Media
RELEASED ON 11/20/2012
Let us be honest, however, if you have Daniels, Bagchus and van Drunen in a band that plays doom/death, of-fucking-course it is going to sound like Asphyx.
Grand Supreme Blood Court
Bow Down Before the Blood Court
Grand Supreme Blood Court’s debut, Bow Down Before The Blood Court, marks the return to recording of former Asphyx guitarist Eric Daniels. The band is the brainchild of Daniels and co-guitarist Alwin Zuur -- Zuur is the current Asphyx bassist, and here he's dubbed "Grand Registrar Zuur". On bass for the Blood Court is Grand Executioner van Eekelen (Theo van Eekelen) of Hail of Bullets, Houwitser, etc. Now here’s the kicker: Rounding out the line-up are Bob Bagchus and Martin van Drunen. So Grand Supreme Blood Court is at once a new band and a reunion of the classic The Rack-era Asphyx line-up, all of which makes me wonder if the Dutch metal scene consists of any more than a dozen musicians.
The promo material sent out for this album is keen to differentiate Grand Supreme Blood Court from Asphyx, and I understand the desire to establish an independent identity for a new band. Let us be honest, however: If you have Daniels, Bagchus and van Drunen in a band that plays doom/death, of-fucking-course it is going to sound like Asphyx.
For the most part Bow Down Before The Blood Court does what you’d expect it to, given the players involved: The band plows through thick, heavy riffs with all the subtlety of a bulldozer, while van Drunen howls and croaks as only he can. Though tracks such as “Behead the Defence” and “Piled Up For Scavengers” proceed with some urgency, on the whole, the album is a patiently punishing affair, dominated by mid-paced material.
The Blood Court is nothing if not consistent, in both its judgments – everyone is guilty – and its performance. As such, it is the rare deviations from the norm that stick out most. A two minutes-and-change instrumental, “Grand Justice, Grand Pain” is the most memorable track on the album. The song grinds along exclusively on one monstrous groove riff. Over this riff, the lead guitar plays haunting, howling solos, presumably evoking the anguished cries of a hapless defendant in the face of the Blood Court’s complete absence of mercy. In light of this fine work it is a shame that the lead guitar is not a stronger presence on Bow Down Before The Blood Court.
Hot on the heels of “Grand Justice, Grand Pain”, comes another highlight in “Fed to the Boars”, which likely describes the fate of the aforementioned hapless defendant. The track starts off slow and doomy, as do many on the album, but twenty seconds in, the doom is forsaken for thrash, with one of the best riffs on the record. Though the track’s trudging, one-note breakdown is rather unimaginative, it sets the stage nicely for a dynamic re-introduction of the main theme, and a furious thrash to the finish.
As far as delivering skull-crushing death metal goes, Bow Down Before The Blood Court gets the job done admirably, but it is not without some flaws. No doubt the album suffers by comparison to Asphyx’s excellent Deathhammer, released less than a year prior, and truthfully, I think we might be reaching the saturation point for Martin van Drunen fronted death metal. But, even taken exclusively on its own merits, the Blood Court is guilty of a few crimes itself: First, although GSBC features two guitarists, it might as well be a one-guitar band for all that Daniels and Zuur interact. Both seem to play the same thing ninety-nine percent of the time. A little variation in the arrangements and a little more lead guitar would go a long way toward spicing things up. Second, the blood court gimmick is not all that compelling from a lyrical standpoint, and I can’t see it holding up for another album.
Despite the flaws, though, it is great to have the old band back together (sort of), and it will be interesting to see what happens if and when the Grand Supreme Blood Court reconvenes.