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Bloodbath: Survival of the Sickest

When we talk about supergroups in extreme metal no one really comes close to the consistency and success of Sweden’s Bloodbath. Formed back in 1998 by Anders Nyström (Katatonia, Diabolical Masquerade), Jonas Renkse (Katatonia, October Tide), Dan Swanö (Edge of Sanity, Nightingale, and many more), and Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth). The original intent, spawned after a night of hard drinking, was to create a fun side project that would resurrect the classic old school pure sound of Swedish Death Metal which the guys felt had been somewhat diluted and polluted over the years. With that Bloodbath was born. Now after various line-up changes most notably on the vocal front with both Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy, Pain, The Abyss) and Nick Holmes (Paradise Lost) respectively replacing Mikael Åkerfeldt, Bloodbath have released their sixth full length album…Survival Of The Sickest.

The interesting thing about Bloodbath is that while they have remained steadfastly connected to their original remit, each era of the band, defined by whichever vocalist was fronting Bloodbath, saw the band lean slightly in the direction of other extremes to blend into their straight for the throat approach to Death Metal. On albums like their debut Resurrection Through Carnage, Grand Morbid Funeral and their previous album The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn the band had a more grinding abrasive sound that very much drew, as expected, from the original Dismember and Entombed sound. They also tempered moments of the latter two albums with doomier elements and some Black Metal feels to some degree. However overall that grinding bass and Boss HM-2 guitar sound is the dominant force. However on the album Nightmares Made Flesh the sound was more reminiscent of the late 80’s early 90’s Florida Death Metal scene. Equally as heavy but with less of that stereotypical Swedish grinding guitar sound. On The Fathomless Mastery the band reached into another direction, modernizing their sound and exchanging the grinding bass and guitar with a fuller heavier but less distinctive sound.

Survival Of The Sickest falls most closely to The Fathomless Mastery in its sonic approach. However while I love Mikael Åkerfeldt and think he is one of the best extreme vocalists to ever growl his guts out on tape, I do find that while there are plenty of highlights on that album, and it’s certainly a very good album, overall the songwriting on Survival Of The Sickest is a little stronger. I also think that even though I prefer Mikael’s deep growls in general here Nick Holmes does a great job bringing a nasty menacing feel to the whole affair and is probably more dynamic overall. There is also more high speed death metal attack on Survival Of The Sickest. Anders Nyström and new addition Tomas Åkvik (Lik) do a fantastic job of delivering up consistently killer death metal riffage and Jonas Renkse, who is less sonically present than on previous albums, nonetheless does his part to add power and menace to the whole affair.

Album highlights for me are the infectious album opener “Zombie Inferno” which also has a death car and zombie filled video which is good fun too. The absolutely pulverizing “Putrefying Corpse” which just comes out with a solid boot directly to the face. “Malignant Maggot Therapy” which has a sick groove while retaining the heaviness. “Born Infernal” has some little keyboard flourishes that almost hint at something grander in a symphonic sense while never distracting from the punishment. “Affliction Of Extinction” is another contagious onslaught of killer riffs and the album closer “No God Before Me”, which is a slower doomier number, is another earworm and its dark brooding atmosphere and almost clean vocal additions, is a very effective way to close out the album. But really there are no weak tracks and every song has its own killer moments.

Bloodbath has never been a band that is blazing new ground or breaking the mold in any significant way, but that really has never been the point. They have a clear mission which is to deliver up pure unadulterated high quality Swedish Death Metal and they have established themselves as one of the most consistent bands in the genre. All their albums are strong and Survival Of The Sickest is no different. My personal favorite thing they ever did was the EP Unblessing The Purity when Mikael was still onboard but Survival of the Sickest is a strong contender for one of their best albums among a catalog of very strong albums. This is top shelf pure Death Metal.

Nick Holmes -Vocals
Anders Nyström -Guitar
Tomas Åkvik- Guitar
Jonas Renkse- Bass
Martin Axenrot- Drums, Percussion

1. Zombie Inferno
2. Putrefying Corpse
3. Dead Parade
4. Malignant Maggot Therapy
5. Carved
6. Born Infernal
7. To Die
8. Affliction of Extinction
9. Tales of Melting Flesh
10. Environcide
11. No God Before Me

Added: January 5th 2023
Reviewer: Benjamin Dudai
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 312
Language: english

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