This is how "bloodbound" is defined on the band's label:
A term that originates from the dark ages when men would make an oath to each other called "blood oath" where they would cut their hands and then shake, mixing the blood. Each man then carries the other's blood, linking the two, like blood brothers. A bloodbound can never be broken and will follow you into the afterlife and beyond...
After their amazing debut album Nosferatu with Urban Breed, Bloodbound went through several vocalist changes, from former Memento Mori and Wuthering Heights singer Kristian Andren (so funny considering Breed had replaced Andren in Tad Morose), to The Storyteller's Johan Sohlberg, and Baltimoore's Jorgen Andersson. Finally though, German-born Michael Bormann got the gig. You might remember him from bands like Jaded Heart and Rain if you enjoy melodic hard rock with ample doses of AOR thrown in. Bormann has a deep, unique voice that becomes particularly haunting on the more laidback, ballady material. Bloodbound is possibly his first attempt at singing power metal, and as much as I like him as a singer, the songs aren't suited that well to his style. That said, he had no part in writing any of these pieces; he just filled in at the last minute and recorded the vocal parts -- given that, he's done a great job.
Book of the Dead unlike its predecessor stays safely in a more European power metal vibe, utilising less keyboards, and building on fast twin guitar harmonies, loud double bass drums (with new drummer Pelle Akerlind), and mostly catchy, melodic choruses. Some of the songs are quite alike with their wordless backing harmonies on pieces like "The Tempter", "Black Shadows", and "Flames of Purgatory", perhaps the only song that breaks the flow of the otherwise homogenous album. This one is nicely decorated with a folky vocal melody a la Wuthering Heights, some nice acoustic parts, a nifty lead solo, and the expected harmony vocals murmuring the main melody without using any lyrics. In a live setting, they will surely get the crowds going, but three songs based on alike ideads on the same CD is getting a bit excessive.
Given Bormann's background, there are also some more hard rock-styled pieces: "Lord of Battle" is like power metal sung by a great, Lande-like vocalist while the chorus of "Turn to Stone" will be glued to your mind for days. The acoustic ballad "Black Heart" showcases how amazing a singer Bormann really is, evoking bands like the underrated Norwegian rockers Return as well as Push and his former acts. The album hides its longest piece "Seven Angels" in track eleven, starting with a slick acoustic bit and building to a mesmerizing melodic metal staple with cool rhythm shifts. While the musicianship is still tight, the amount of guitar leads and driving bass crescendos have seen a significant drop, perhaps in order to fit the more direct, in-your-face styles of the songs.
Time will show how Bloodbound will do without Breed at the helm, and some may be disappointed at the lack of variety put on offer on this disc, but by its own standards, Book of the Dead is still worthy of a listen.
- Sign Of The Devil
- The Tempter
- Book of the Dead
- Bless the Unholy
- Lord of Battle
- Flames of Purgatory
- Into Eternity
- Black Heart
- Black Shadows
- Turn To Stone
- Seven Angels