One thing that always separates real contenders from limping also-rans is an ability to think big. Formed in the Netherlands in 2012, Bleeding Gods approach death metal with the wild imaginations and limitless creativity of movie directors, resulting in some of the most epic and overblown extremity we’ve heard in a long time. The band’s new album, Dodekathlon, is, in a very real sense, the results of a Herculean effort.
“Our vocalist Mark is a walking history encyclopaedia and he has a great interest in Greek mythology,” says guitarist Rutger van Noordenburg. “When he suggested the 12 labours of Hercules – ‘Dodekathlon’ – [as a concept], it all clicked! We knew this wouldn’t be an easy album to write, though. We wanted to tell Hercules’ story from beginning to end, chronologically and without cheating, so we had to write in a certain way, incorporating sound-scapes, spoken-word parts and classical interludes. It all really helped to convey the story and bind it to its Greek roots.”
A huge step forward from the already monstrous sound of their 2015 debut, Shepherd Of Souls, the new Bleeding Gods album will doubtless dazzle with its sonic power, but there is still a living, breathing and snarling death metal band operating at the core of this sustained exercise in bombast. Those orchestral trimmings, created in collaboration with ex-Cradle Of Filth/My Dying Bride man Martin Powell, simply take the band’s music into more evocative and adventurous realms. As Rutger explains, recreating this stuff live, with a fitting degree of extravagance, is all part of the fun. Watch this space for your chance to have your eyebrows blazed off.
“Everything we do live sticks to the concept of the album. There’s no way to tell Hercules’ story in a humble, modest way. We have to create a show and an experience for the fans. We’re working on some very cool surprises to make sure that everyone will have plenty to look at. But if we had an unlimited budget? Lots of fire and a killer stage… maybe we could throw in a lifesize temple and bring the Hydra back from the dead? Ha ha! But yes, loads of fire!”
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Now signed to Nuclear Blast, Bleeding Gods seem to have the fire and the flair to ensure that Dodekathlon stands out amid 2018’s inevitable avalanche of metal releases. By tapping into the epic spirit of the Ancient Greeks and bringing Hercules’ struggles to explosive, riff-driven life, these Dutch destroyers are taking death metal to new levels of terrifying grandeur. Your new soundtrack to the impending apocalypse has arrived.
“Humankind has always had a tendency to self-destruct,” Rutger concludes. “You can certainly see many similarities between the brutality of the ancient Greeks and the world as it is today. But brutal tales give lots of inspiration for brutal music so we’ll make sure that we keep you provided with the latter!”
Dodekathlon is out now via Nuclear Blast and is available to buy from Amazon.