The Fathomless MasteryFeatured review by: UG Team, on october 17, 2008 2 of 17 people found this review helpful
Sound: Bloodbath's lineup reads like the cast of a wet dream hosted through the subconscious of countless pseudo-intellectual message board warriors. The band through the years has featured no less than four figureheads in their respective bands: Mikael kerfeldt of Opeth; Jonas Renkse of Katatonia; Peter Tgtgren of Hypocrisy and Dan Swan of, well, every Swedish metal band ever. Despite being so heavily involved in such big-time acts, the band has managed to maintain a reasonable output. 'The Fathomless Mastery' is their third album, and the full length return of kerfeldt into the fold, with Peter Tgtgren having done vocals for their 2004 release 'Nightmares Made Flesh'. Also featured are Anders "Blakkheim" Nystrm and Martin Axenrot, of Katatonia and Opeth respectively, as well as new guitarist Per "Sodomizer" Eriksson.
The ethos behind this 'supergroup' is to lay down some fun, hard-hitting, old school death metal. Understandable, considering the level of stylistic wandering going on in the member's main bands, but where Bloodbath has previously excelled, 'The Fathomless Mastery' falls short. An immediate concern is the production, which is very reserved and does very little to stop the songs from fading deep into a mid-deprived murkiness. The smoothed corners of the guitars remove that chunky edge that was vital to Bloodbath's grooves, and in the end a death metal mix that doesn't instinctively punch you in the face needs something phenomenal musically to stand out. Unfortunately, Bloodbath can't manage that this time. Even Martin Axenrot, whose fantastic drumming is now widely distributed through Opeth, doesn't seem to do much that is particularly interesting. For a band that is meant to be focused on the old school sound, there is a disconcerting amount of tedious blasting going on. A few tracks do stand out as top drawer, but for some reason they are accompanied by some disposable banality rather than the truly sick tracks from the 'Unblessing The Purity' EP they released earlier in the year, which, if included, could have made 'The Fathomless Mastery' infinitely better than it actually is. // 5
Lyrics: A main attraction to Bloodbath is the presence of Mikael kerfeldt on vocals, something which especially interests me as Opeth's latest album, 'Watershed', had a very disappointing lack of his death metal vocals. Bloodbath will have none of that feminine melodic nonsense, and is instead packed full of Mikael's delicious low growls, with which I have no complaints. The lyrics, like the music, are written by different members of the band, with the majority being shared between Anders Nystrm and Jonas Renkse, with kerfelt writing the lyrics to Per Eriksson's music. The lyrics are, interestingly enough, not half as graphic as Bloodbath's prior output. Sure, most of the songs are still about hacking people up whilst sipping on a bone marrow smoothie, but at least this time around they are slightly more discreet about it. We still get song titles such as 'Devouring The Feeble' and 'Slaughter The Will To Live', but the lyrics themselves seem to be more based on the obvious moral and philosophical consequences of a massacre than the possibility of getting entrails on your shirt. // 8
Overall Impression: I want this album to be great, I really do. All of their previous work has been great fun, but 'The Fathomless Mastery' feels like a chore to get through. There are some tracks that match Bloodbath standard ('Mock The Cross', 'Iesous'), but unfortunately there aren't enough of them to make a whole album of great tunes. It's difficult not to feel the absence of Dan Swan on this album, and even a guest from another Swedish metal luminary, Christian lvestam, can't help this album live up to expectations. This isn't the debut of a new 'supergroup', this is their third album and unfortunately it just doesn't live up to expectations, or the considerable message board hype. // 5
The Fathomless Mastery
oneblackened, on july 30, 2012 4 of 7 people found this review helpful
Sound: Bloodbath is basically a tribute to early death metal bands made up of members of Opeth and Katatonia. It's heavy stuff, if not the most original metal ever. That doesn't mean it's bad, by any means - in fact it's quite good. A lot of this album sort of walks along at a medium tempo, with fast tremolo picking/blasting sections interspersed regularly to keep the songs interesting. There's the occasional slower break too, which instead of being boring actually add to the songs.
The guitar tone is classic Swedish Death Metal tone - low tuned guitars run through a Boss HM-2 distortion pedal into a fairly high gain amp. The drums are well played and sound okay but the bass is nowhere to be found (as is the norm on most modern metal albums, sadly). The guitar solos are really nothing to write home about, but they do add to the songs at times especially on "Slaughtering The Will To Live". // 7
Lyrics: I personally believe this is one of Mikael Akerfeldt's best performances with his death growl. He sounds great on this release, arguably better than he does on most of the Opeth releases. The lyrics are, as expected, rather anti-religious or Satan-invoking (see "Mock The Cross" and "Drink From The Cup Of Heresy"). Consider me unsurprised. They're well written though, and aren't completely ridiculous. Unlike most death metal vocalists, Mikael's death growls are actually intelligible for the most part. This is a rarity considering how the vocals are delivered. // 8
Overall Impression: Compared to "Resurrection Through Carnage" or "Nightmares Made Flesh", I'd say this album is better but similar. It really sounds like modernized early 90s Swedish Death Metal (think Dismember, early Desultory, early Entombed) with a better production. Best part of the album is the songwriting, the worst is the production. There really isn't any bottom end on the album, and the drums are kind of weak sounding outside of the snare and cymbals. I'd buy it again if I lost it, for sure.
- At The Behest Of Their Death
- Slaughtering The Will To Live
- Mock The Cross
- Devouring The Feeble
- Earthrot // 8
The Fathomless Mastery
bass_emagdnim, on october 20, 2008 2 of 4 people found this review helpful
Sound: I bought this album the day it was released, feeling as much as any other doting Bloodbath fan the excitement of 11 new tracks from the Swedish supergroup. I can say I've listened to it countless times since that day, and my verdict? Well...
When it's good, it's very very good. There are some really damn cool parts on this album, parts you can't help but nod your head to and smile stupidly to yourself at. Some of the coolest grooves I've heard this year reside on this CD: the beginning of Devouring the Feeble and one of the post-chorus bridges to Slaughtering the Will to Live to name but a few.
But. This album also has it's bland moments. Enough to make this album a little slow. And undoubtedly fast and tight as Axe's drumming is, at times he really doesn't help... in trying to keep it "old school" he can be quite monotonous to listen to. However there are a few exceptions: some rather inventive drum work in Treasonous diving in and out of triplet feel against the guitars makes for very entertaining listening indeeed.
I've also seen this album flamed slightly for it's production... whilst I can agree some features have lost their edge slightly (the bass in particular has lost it's sharp, raw presence since the EP released earlier this year) the guitar tone, to my ear, is commendable to say the least. Lacking though it may be in comparison with earlier works, the drop A chunky tubey quad-tracked (or maybe even more than that) sound in this album certainly adds depth. // 8
Lyrics: This is a death metal album, so it's safe to assume nobody's going to be paying a huge amount of attention to the lyrics. Though it's not quite as predictable as the bog-standard gore-filled outing, the lyrical themes on The Fathomless Mastery are as you would have expected. They do however fit in with the feel of the music, so one can't complain on that aspect. How they are delivered is much more enjoyable. I am an avid Opeth fan so hearing Mikey in a less progressive context is always good fun and I'm sure he enjoys throwing away the enigmatic Opethian dignity for the sake of screaming about gore and anti-Christianity for a death metal album. // 7
Overall Impression: In conclusion I would say this is a solid effort by Bloodbath, though not up to the standards of previous work. It lacks a constant feel of energy, chunky guitaring and something else I can't quite place, it feels that they've tried to make this one heavier (the move to drop A is fairly solid proof) and in doing so lost something that Nightmares Made Flesh et al had. A shame as I really did want to give this album top marks, something I was expecting to do after hearing the highly promising Unblessing the Purity.
There are many standout moments in this album, but if I had to pick my favourite tracks they would have to be Treasonous and Devouring The Feeble.
This is far from a perfect album but still one I would listen to if I felt like a bit of a rock-out without having to pay too much attention to what's going on. // 8