Bloodbath – Survival of the Sickest

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International superstar formation Bloodbath has launched its newest album 'Survival of the Sickest', featuring members from Katatonia, Lik, Paradise Lost and ex-members of Opeth in its line-up. With six albums under their belt, Bloodbath is renowned for their crafty songwriting. The latest offering includes some guest session vocalists such as Luc Lemay (Gorguts), Barney Greenway (Napalm Death) and Marc Grewe (Morgoth). This bold effort from vocalist Nick Holmes, guitarists Anders Nyström and Tomas Åkvik, along with the spectacular crunchy bass guitar of Jonas Renkse and the hammering beats of Martin Axenrot, brings out organic songs held by a cohesive force.

From the start of the album, Bloodbath manages to combine infectious, memorable riffs. Kicking straightforward with the ramping drums on the opening track ‘Zombie Inferno’ , it captures the whole of that blistering Swedish death metal intensity. Moving from the opening salvo to one of the best title tracks in the album ‘Putrefying Corpse’ delivers robust vocal growls from veteran Nick Holmes and guest session vocalist Barney Greenway. The guitar department carves out its own classic old-school death metal riffs that would fit with the likes of Dismember and Entombed.

Though as a professional band Bloodbath’s music goes beyond the corners of 90s death metal, there is some kind of putrid, zombified theme adding a grisly recipe to the music. The fat guitar tone sounds thundering with the drums being propelled towards the sadistic riffing. The guitar serves as an adrenalized syringe. Bloodbath perfectly mixes the brutal elements of bands like Morbid Angel, Deicide and Obituary. More impressive and blatantly aggressive to the core ‘Survival of the Sickest’ shows variation in tempo: the guitars are injecting speed turning into a roller-coaster ride, while Anders Nyström and Tomas Åkvik achieve a great chemistry together.

The strength of the album is dominated by robust drumming while the excelling growls of Nick Holmes are equally remarkable. ‘Dead Parade’ is a somewhat slow menacing track that sees  veteran Anders Nyström weaving dark brooding riffs. ‘Survival of the Sickest’ is enhanced by a crystal clear production through the clinical utilization of swaggering riffs rendering that raw classic tone. The sixth album is astonishingly aggressive and ultimately brutal.

The new album has many resemblances to one of  the band’s previous outputs ‘Grand Morbid Funeral’. The effort stands as a masterful performance with the songs are stretched to 3-4 minutes in duration. The drumming is brought to powerful execution which in many ways contrasts perfectly with the savage riffs. There isn’t one bad track, nor filler to be found. A song like ‘Malignant Maggot Therapy’ includes fast whirling solos, blast beats a and breakneck tempo. This track is perfectly infectious. Bloodbath has certainly reformed its songwriting skills to a dexterous level. The album is noteworthy for its sharp blistering riffs, smooth drumming transitions and impeccable growls. On songs like ‘Carved’ Martin “Axe” Axenrot puts the pedal to the metal with effective grooves and hefty riffs giving it a ferocious motion.

The sixth album resurrects an organic and raw style, reminiscent of classic Entombed. Rapid-fire riffs and infectious rhythms morph into an upbeat tempo on ‘Born Infernal’. The riffing structure is absolutely cohesive and alternates between vicious melody and fast-paced tempo. ‘To Die’ begins with grooves and then quickly moves into an energetic pace. The signature guitar solos of Anders Nyström are instantly grabbing. The track also includes a dramatic guitar solo section adding a new sonic dimension.

While ‘Affliction of Extinction’ and ‘Tales of Melting Flesh’ are loaded with rotten HM-2 distortion, they set the right tone for the guitars in providing that classy old-school sound. The aggressive manifestation of the drums is absolutely solid. The biggest modulation here is the fact that ‘Survival of the Sickest’ engages in raw-chords thumbs that make it a brutal and dynamic death metal record.

Being the most aggressive driving force of the music, the drums and the vocals provides a firm grit that goes beyond the preceding album ‘The Arrow of Satan Is Drawn’.  With an outstanding performance ‘Environcide’ engages in vigorous galloping drums and solid riffing aggression that will bring many death metal bands to heel. The riff tone on the album has tremendous power. Bloodbath on its newest album seems to be in its most original and tight form. I certainly had never anticipated such an impeccable performance, especially after their 2018 album. The album’s closer ‘No God Before Me’ infuses a nightmarish and menacing showdown with its slow doomy guitars, laden with the putrefied growls that unfold a morbid closure to the album.

 

REVIEW SCORE

  • Music / Songwriting 10/10
  • Vocals / Lyrics 10/10
  • Mix / Production 10/10
  • Artwork & Packaging 9/10
  • Originality 10/10
9.8

‘Survival Of The Sickest’ unleashes a raw old-school sound and brings a zombified gore-themed death metal record for the fans. This is a great comeback and without doubt one of my favorite albums of the year.

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