Bloodbath
Grand Morbid Funeral

When Nick Holmes of Paradise Lost was announced as new singer of death metal supergroup Bloodbath, filling the considerably large shoes of Mikael Åkerfeldt and Peter Tagtgren, i thought is was a genius move. Not only getting a big name, but a name that many wanted as they were clamoring to hear Nick growl again once more. However, when I heard the first track from the album, “Unite in Pain” I was a bit underwhelmed, wishing the band had gone with one of the other names being tossed around such as Jorgen Sansdtrom (ex Grave)or Matti Karki (ex-Dismember).

However, now Iv’e absorbed the whole album in its entirety, my disappointment has abated. While Nick does sound a bit ragged and certainly less commanding than Akerfeldt or even Tagtgren, it still works. And it works because of A) the song writing is soooo fucking strong, you almost forget there are vocals, and B) the vocals are so low in the mix and raw that you barely notice them. And thusly the album is a successful album, fitting in perfectly with the Bloodbath supergroup legacy and possibly even being a stronger album than The Fathomless Mastery-  which I think received such a strong reception (myself included) as it was a 4 year wait AND saw the return of Åkerfeldt, but was the weakest Bloodbath album by far.

Armed with the expected mid range Sunlight dirty buzz and hum, the guitars are exactly what you’d expect from these guys. Huge, beefy, thick riffs and and a rumbling commanding rhythm section all come together perfectly- though i’d still give the nod to the other Paradise Lost guy, Gregor Macintosh and his side project Vallenfyre. But the strength of the album isn’t its robust mid range buzz saw tone- its the riffs.

And while certainly other bands have delivered this style admirably in 2014 (Unwilling Flesh, Brutally Deceased, Revel in Flesh) the collective innate experience and veteran song writing chops of these guys oozes through every crawling lope and blast, like its in their very pores. Sure there is no instant classic like “Eaten” or “Like Fire”, but each song is strong, even “Unite in Pain”, when taken as a whole. The likes of “Anne”, slow lurcher “Church of Vastistas”, romping “Mental Abortion”, “Beyond Creation” (arguably the album’s standout) and the sprawling closing title track, perfectly mix catchy and brutal mid range savagery in confident tight deliveries that simply show the band as the possible pinnacle of the style.  Even when putting the pedal fully to the metal like “Total Death Exhumed” or “My Torturer”, it never loses its sense of restraint or memorability, but the band is definitely more effective working with heftier crawls and grooves all imbuing the best parts  and classic sound of Entombed, Grave and Dismember into one as heard on “His Infernal Necropsy”.

I think Vallenfyre’s Splinters just nips this in my year end list, and I’d be lying If I said it wasn’t partly because of Nick Holmes’ dry performance which seems to sap just a little of the albums power. And lets not forget that the band debuted over a decade ago when Swedish death metal and death metal in general was in a lull (and had Dan Swano), and a lot of bands have done this style really well (and bands like Entrails, possibly better) since then, possibly further lessening Bloodbaths immediate impact. But that does not stop Grand Morbid Funeral from being great and certainly sure to litter many year end lists.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
December 1st, 2014

Comments

  1. Commented by: Devils Lettuce

    Surely nothing wrong with this. Another Bloodbath album another solid release. Nicks vocals are fine and I actually love his evil delivery. It’s suitable and a nice change. Also glad to hear him and Paradise Lost are ready to embrace the old days. Next album should kill


  2. Commented by: thisblacksession

    Strange that you would list Jorgen Sandstrom as ex-Grave as opposed to current The Project Hate MCMXCIX. And yeah, I still think he’d have done a much better job – dude absolutely roars.


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