Bloodbound
Tabula Rasa

Tabula Rasa, translated as “blank slate” from Latin, is the fitting title for the new album from Sweden’s Power Metal six-piece Bloodbound. If you happened to hear the band’s previous two discs, don’t necessarily expect to be exposed to another act of replication, as often occurs with many metal groups in the present-day scene. In fact, Tabula Rasa has little to do with their debut Nosferatu or their sophomore full-length Book Of The Dead, both of which although featuring different vocalists were not too far apart in style. Cut from the same cloth as many classic bands from the power metal genre, the first two discs are a powerhouse of conventional Power Metal riffs, Maiden-esque twin solos, sing-along choruses, cheesy lyrics, and galloping rhythms. In this respect, the new album and its predecessors are like chalk and cheese, even though their original singer Urban Breed (also in Tad Morose and Pyramaze) has rejoined the band. The Melodic Death oriented guitar work, darker moods and increased dramatics in their melodies are three basic elements showing us an utterly new facet of Bloodbound, as if they had made up their minds to go back to the drawing board and start again with a blank slate-if you will.

And so, the two opening tracks, “Dreams Of Madness” and “Dominion 5”, which set the tone for the rest of the album, had me initially quite puzzled. The first association that leaped to mind was that of Nocturnal Rites meets Masterplan meets Heed, and I really needed some time to get used to the newer, more serious sonic image of the band. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t really like what I heard from my speakers! Devastatingly ponderous modern riffs mixed with imposing solos and powerful vocal lines, as well as a large diversity in rhythms used on each song made me think of anyone else other than this band. However, the deeper I submerged myself into the dark waters of Tabula Rasa the more I realized that it was in fact Bloodbound, just cloaked in some new threads. Vocalist Urban Breed was as godly as ever with his velvety yet raging baritone elevating the melodic parts of the album and very reminiscent in this respect of Nocturnal Rites vocalist, Johny Lindquist. The charming yet sufficiently heavy ballad “Night Touches You” showcases the man’s abilities in full, showing him as one of the most charismatic and emotive frontmen in the genre.

Even if the guitar combo of the Olsson brothers sounds at times as if they have been listening to a lot of modern Melodeath and Thrash Metal, they still throw in enough classic trademarks to help identify the Power Metal act we used to know. Thus, their virtuosic solos are still inexpressibly melodic and provide a necessary contrast to the more jack-hammer like leads. And even though the collaboration between the guitarists demonstrates far more aggression this time, it’s still as highly tuneful and inventive as before. The more distinctive pieces on the album are probably the twin title tracks, “Tabular Rasa” and “Tabula Rasa Pt.2 (Nothing At All)”. While the former is an excellent reminder of the band’s older traits, the latter stuns with its strokes of novelty and freshness. However, both show the two sides of the band to its best advantage and contrast with each other perfectly.

Honestly, I don’t think this disc has at least one unnecessary track as all of them are part of one huge inseparable structure that surprises with its integrity and fluidity. I, for one, think this is their best creation, and for fans of Melodic Metal it’s definitely a must-have purchase. Even those that weren’t too impressed with the band’s previous releases should give the 2009 edition of Bloodbound a fair chance before passing them by.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Igor Stakh
April 25th, 2009

Comments

  1. Commented by: Blackwater Park

    Solid review my friend. Nice work.


  2. Commented by: Shaye

    Nice review… I agree with most of it.


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