Review Summary: Bloodbath fathomlessly master death metal, or so they’d like us to think.
Bloodbath are quite the phenomenon in death metal; somewhat a supergroup, with two members of one of most popular bands in metal (Opeth), there is no surprise as to why they’re huge. Not only this, but the band has made the genre of death metal more accessible, due in part to their well known members and fun-tastic style of death. After teasing us earlier this year with the Unblessing the Purity
EP, speculation on their new album, interestingly titled The Fathomless Mastery
, has been rampant. However, after finally arriving, it’s safe to conclude that any further speculation is unnecessary; the new Bloodbath is everything I expected it to be. The album is good, fans of the band rejoice, but it unfortunately reeks of over confidence, and although having relatively strong individual tracks it doesn’t really hold one’s interest as an entire album. When listening to The Fathomless Mastery
, one can’t help but feel that the band is trying just a little too hard; the subtle joke of death metal that the band is based around never used to be much of a bother, but with The Fathomless Mastery
it seems that Bloodbath are literally screaming ‘LOOK AT US PLAY AWESOME DETH METUL’ on every track. Nevertheless, this is a well put together record, and will no doubt appease both fans of the band and lovers of metal in general. It is easy to get into, rather light on the ears in death metal terms, and it has Mikael Akerfeldt in it; what more could you want?
Akerfeldt returns to the Bloodbath LP catalogue with The Fathomless Mastery
and is easily the best thing about the album. His gutturals are ridiculously good, and put to shame any calls that were made about his harsh vocals following the release of Opeth’s Watershed
. From the second you hear him give a low growl on opener ‘At the Behest of Their Death’, you know that there will be no disappointments concerning the vocals. And suffice to say, this is true; the vocal performance is exemplary throughout the record. Martin Axenrot, of recent Opeth fame, is perhaps the polar opposite of Akerfeldt on the album. There was a great deal of speculation and even criticism surrounding his position in Opeth, more specifically that he would not compare to ex-drummer Martin Lopez. Nevertheless, his performance on Watershed
was rather good, perhaps only due to the influence of his environment. Said criticisms of his drumming however, come very much into light with The Fathomless Mastery
, which contains a very lacklustre and uninspired effort behind the kit. He is a technical drummer, but in this album’s regard, technicality goes hand in hand with monotony.
Any expectations there might have been of Bloodbath’s two axe men are uniformly fulfilled on The Fathomless Mastery
, with some tastefully nasty riffs spread across the album, punctuated by occasional moments of doom inspired melody: in a nutshell, typical Bloodbath. However, and inexplicably so, the album simply drags in so many places. Certain tracks stand out, but on a whole the album is seemingly a chore to get through. A track like ‘Iesous’, simply an above average song, is sufficient on its own, but given in the context of 10 other very similar songs, it just doesn’t bode well for Bloodbath. Varied as they may seem, the tracks are not all that different from each other, and you may not notice it at first or even at all, but it definitely shows in the number of times I was bored when listening to The Fathomless Mastery
. It remains fathomless as to why this is so, yet it greatly detracts from any long term enjoyment of the album.
I’ll admit I have been rather critical of the album. It is a good album, and can be a lot of fun, but eventually you have to ask yourself why it is that you’re getting bored with something that shouldn’t be boring you. Whether it was the tiresome drumming, or the occasional recycled riff, it was all just too samey to keep my attention. Don’t be mistaken in thinking this is a bad record though; there is plenty of good to be found on here, starting with, but not limited to, Akerfeldt’s performance. A few tracks such as ‘Mock the Cross’ have an addictive quality to them, but sometimes an album needs to be more than just a bunch of songs thrown together. It might pay to stop and think that perhaps treating Bloodbath more seriously is something we all should be doing. Maybe it was just me that didn’t think this album was that amazing, but it would do you good to go into The Fathomless Mastery
not expecting a fathomless mastery of death metal, but rather something a little less self-promoting; the title is somewhat misleading.