Even though Bloodbath’s last album, 2008’s The Fathomless Mastery, gave Morbid Angel a good run for their money, you could sense that then-frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt’s heart wasn’t fully into it anymore and that the more old-school sound of their debut suited the band best.
So even if the recent announcement that their fourth full-length would have a more primitive approach was supposed to be a good omen, the announcement of Nick Holmes as replacement for Mikael was a buzzkiller, many assuming that Paradise Lost’s laconic frontman had surrendered the necessary visceral edge. But sweet Satan, how wrong we were. Yes, it takes some time to get used to his much raspier style, but 23 years after Gothic, his now more articulated style has a menacing vibe of its own. And although Bloodbath’s professionalism sometimes kills that old Swedeath swing they’re dying to reconquer, it feels just right to see them smeared again with HM-2 pedal defecation – Especially since Katatonia’s Jonas Renske and Anders Nyström are pulling the strings here with their customary bleakness. When class ‘A’ songwriting meets supreme death metal played by and for fans, don’t even try to resist. Happy funeral.