The Fathomless Mastery

Arguably, The Fathomless Mastery is one of the most anticipated death metal records of year, partly due to the return of Mikael Åkerfeldt to vocal duties (which cancels out the loss of Dan Swano), and partly due to the fact that the bands two full length’s (2002s Resurrection Through Carnage and superb but slight step back and less homage-ish of 2004s Nightmares Made Flesh), were pretty much perfect death metal records. Well, add number three to that list of perfection, as The Fathomless Mastery, indeed in part to the return of Åkerfeldt, improves over the Peter Tägtgren led Nightmares Made Flesh and feels much more like the debut in pace, structure and presence.

Armed with the expected modernized Stockholm buzz and rumble as well as Åkerfeldt’s absolutely perfect growl, The Fathomless Mastery starts with the urgent and classically structured “At the Behest of Their Death” highlighting the bands perfect mix of classic, malevolent moodiness of (early) Entombed/Grave and Dismember inspired death metal flocked with just enough Floridian technicality and time changes to make it more than a pure homage. From there, tracks like “Process of Disillumination”, churning standout “Mock the Cross”, slicing “Treasonous”, chunky “Devour the Feeble”, classic mid song throes of “Earthrot” and other standout “Hades Rising” (the section at 3:00 is to die for) and perfectly atmospheric closing of “Wretched Human Mirror” deliver timeless structures and riffage and Åkerfeldt’s seems to be on a post Watershed catharsis unleashing some truly demonic vocals. His supergrpoup cohorts and primary song writers, Anders “Blakkheim” Nyström (Katatonia, Diabolical Masquerade, Bewitched), Swano replacement Per “Sodomizer” Eriksson (21 Lucifers), Jonas Renkse (Katatonia) Martin “Axe” Axenrot (Witchery) all perform with a passion and precision that only veterans of the scene and lovers of the genre could do, managing to make the Stockholm sound come across with a new found intensity and tightness while still culling all the genre’s best traits.

On the very small down side, there is no sure fire, instant classic track a la “Like Fire”, “Cry My Name” or “Eaten”, but each of the 11 tracks are all damn fine in their own right and the album itself a superb display of death metal perfection that isn’t blast beats and breakdowns, just pure, honest riffs and memorable moments-just like it was in the early 90s. It’s Not quite up to par with Resurrection Through Carnage, but improves on Nightmares Made Flesh, and is ultimately a contender for my year end honors.  Fathomless mastery indeed.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
November 3rd, 2008


  1. Commented by: Vance

    Kick arse!!! can’t wait to get my grubbers on this one, excellent review..

  2. Commented by: elguerosinfe

    My favorite DM release of the year by far. I can’t stop listening to it.

  3. Commented by: mars

    If ANYONE missed the peaceville exclusive ep “unblessing the purity” you have fucked up! and i’m sure many of you have.

    complaint: why didn’t they just not do an ep, finish these songs and and release it as the “unblessing the purity” full length? better cover art, better title, 4 other brilliant, memorable songs few are going to hear now. would have been an instant classic album

  4. Commented by: Stiffy0000

    Fantastic record.

  5. Commented by: swampthang

    Been listening to these guys for awhile. Good death metal thats never boring and has some sweet riffs.

  6. Commented by: Redstar

    I wonder if I’m the only person on the planet that preferred Tagtgren’s vocals over Akerfeldts as far as the first two albums are compared.

    Either way, can’t wait to hear the new one.

  7. Commented by: gozer666

    man, “eaten” was such a great track.

  8. Commented by: Dan

    I’m pumped for this. Resurrection Through Carnage is one of my favorite albums, but Nightmares… just never clicked with me due to Tagtgren’s vocals and the more clinical production. I actually like those songs more on The Wacken Carnage with a raw live sound and Akerfeldt on vocals. This sounds fuckin’ filthy. Can’t wait.

  9. Commented by: ceno

    Maybe Mikael’s a stronger growler, but I still think that the songs on Nightmare Made Flesh are more memorable than on TFM. Well, at least for the time being they are.

  10. Commented by: Kyle

    I prefer Mikey over Pete, but my favorite song is one of Pete’s, Eaten.

  11. Commented by: Cynicgods

    If Redstar is the only guy that prefers Peter over Mikael, I must be the only guy that likes both equally. Two of my favorite vocalists ever.

  12. Commented by: axiom

    Great review. This release has that more sickening guitar tone than the previous ep. Superb.

  13. Commented by: AdamChildress

    Great album, I think one of my favorite bloodbath albums.

  14. Commented by: Dimaension X

    The Live Wacken DVD/CD was superb – really shows what some amazing musicians are capable of, despite the fact that it was their one and ONLY live appearance ever. Can’t wait to hear what they’ve come up with on this album.

  15. Commented by: Dan

    Fuck I love this album!

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