2008 may bear one of two titles: “The Year Of Mikael Åkerfeldt” or “The Year of BLOODBATH.” With “Unblessing The Purity” as a solid demo taking the super group into uncharted territory, and the upcoming full-length release of “The Fathomless Mastery” due in October, the band seems bound for some dark and unofficial sainthood. Add to the odds a live performance from 2005’s Wacken Festival and deification becomes eminent, which comes as little surprise since the word “failure” does not appear in the unabridged Åkerfeldt dictionary.
Despite Mikael’s prowess, vocals alone cannot deliver the package. Anders Nyström and Jonas Renkse of KATATONIA (not to mention the legendary Dan Swanö and Martin Axenrot) replicate their studio contributions in a balanced and audible format on “The Wacken Carnage” with spot-on leads and tones that mimic the early glory of ENTOMBED and DISMEMBER. Emulating this vibe seems written into the genetic code for the band at this point, but the tempos, dynamics and technical proficiency demonstrated here are flawless (even in the occasional complexity that makes these earlier tracks unique).
“Cancer Of The Soul” sets the perfect stage for this performance as the disc’s most solid moments appear in the tracks that embraced “Nightmares Made Flesh.” “So You Die” remains a force of reckoning and may serve as the best indication of the band’s talents in a live setting, but all in all the disc showcases the band’s best efforts from each prior release.
While the pre-dated performance does not contain any material reflecting the artists’ new directions or maturity it certainly serves as a snapshot of the foundation that these legends possess. Barring the chance that “The Fathomless Mastery” becomes buried under previous pitfalls and the hype of the demo we may see three BLOODBATH releases in everyone’s top ten this year.
(Online July 21, 2008)