Aside from the kick ass music the thing I like most about BLOODBATH is the totally antithetical nature of their existence as a band. They’re the antithesis to the flamboyance of Akerfeldt’s main band, the antithesis to the demure moodiness of KATATONIA, the antithesis to the general lameness of the ‘modern’ Death Metal movement, hell – they’re even the antithesis to the notion that “supergroups” rarely live up to the crippling expectation bestowed upon them. Whatever it is, they’re against it.
2008 has been an unusually productive year for the Swedes, the band releasing no less than three albums – the live CD/DVD set “The Wacken Carnage”, the “Unblessing The Purity” EP, and well as their third full-length proper in “The Fathomless Mastery”. It wouldn’t be unfair to expect the band to run out of ideas sooner or later since their entire existence is based upon old school Death Metal worship, but fortunately for us this album is yet another gem in their catalogue, and in many ways I consider this one their best offering yet. Now, I’ve seen some less than favourable reviews on this album which strikes me as utterly stupid since there are no significant differences between this one and their older material save for the slight increase in technicality and a better production job. Saying you don’t like this album is like saying you like “Still Life” but not “Blackwater Park” – a nonsensical kind of reasoning reserved solely for those schmucks that only like the first few albums of any band. Anyway, ”The Fathomless Mastery” is another glorious platter of hymns to all things dead or dying, one that combines the brutality of their first album with the more technically-minded nuances of their second album, and the result is one very well-rounded and enjoyable Death Metal album that owes as much to the old Floridian sound as it does the Stockholm one.
One thing that immediately struck me about this album is the incredibly dark, and dare I say evil vibe of the songs. The whole album has this brooding, insistent feel to it that definitely imbues the songs with a richer atmosphere than ever before, and the many time-changes throughout the album also ensures that it feels much more “progressive” and engaging than before. “Process Of Disillumination” is an instant highlight, its slow-ish intro quickly giving way to a remorseless blasting section that has a slight Black Metal vibe to it, with Akerfeldt taking no prisoners with his vicious snarling. Oh, and it also has one amazingly mesmerizing solo that acts as a nice juxtaposition to the darker sections of the song. This light vs. shade approach is also masterfully utilized in “Treasonous” and “Hades Rising”, the former containing a grimy ‘groove’ break that reminded me of ACID BATH’s first album. For those who prefer the more ortohodox full-on Death Metal style of “Resurrection Through Carnage” there is the pillaging opener “At The Behest Of Their Death”, “Mock The Cross” and “Slaughtering the Will To Live” to sink their teeth into. Top this all off with a solid production job and a seething Akerfeldt behind the microphone and you have one great Death Metal album on your hands – one that perfectly toes the line between the buzzsaw stylings of old Swedish DM and the more atmospheric stylings of the American brand.
I really can’t fault this album in any way as all the songs are either decent or very good. I wasn’t bowled over as instantly by this album as I was by KRISIUN’s “Southern Storm” or HAIL OF BULLETS’ “...Of Frost And War” but when all is said and done “The Fathomless mastery” is easily one of the better Death Metal albums of 2008 so far and an album that proves that one can do more with old school Death Metal than mere DISMEMBER worship.
(Online November 24, 2008)