Sound — 7
Bloodbath originally formed in 1998 as a kind of death meal outlet for members of Opeth and Katatonia. There have been some lineup changes with the band - most notably the (second) departure of Mikael Åkerfeldt in 2012 and the departure of drummer and founding member, Dan Swanö (of Edge Of Sanity and Nightingale) in 2006. Vocal duties have since been taken over by Nick Holmes (of Paradise Lost). "Grand Morbid Funeral" is the band's fourth studio album, and contains 11 tracks with a runtime of approximately 47 minutes. The release seems to be a very ambitious and successful attempt at creating a more vintage-inspired death metal album.
The album opens up strong with the track, "Let the Stillborn Come to Me," which is heavy with riffs, blast beats and adrenaline. "Total Death Exhumed" has a lot of interesting things going on with the lead guitar, which gives this song a lot of character and making it one of my favorites from the album. "Anne" starts out with a monologue with a guy talking about how he lived a normal life except for his secret. The lyrics come in and deal with pretty dark imagery that makes this the only song that is really distasteful to me on the album. "Church of Vastitas" has an excellent creepy vibe, and the lyrics could possibly deal with people acted like sheep in modern society, depending on how you want to interpret them. "Famine of God's Word" has basically classic death metal vocals and feels like it could have been written and recorded in the early days of the genre. "Mental Abortion" has some really good stuff going on from a lead guitar standpoint, and really makes this song shine. "Beyond Cremation" has one of those old school death metal openings with a blast beat and fast guitar riffing and the vocals drawing out "aaaaaaaaaaah!," but it goes on to have some fairly groove-heavy riffs in the track, almost reminiscent of older White Zombie but heavier. "His Infernal Necropsy" is a solid track, but it wasn't one of the better tracks from the album - I had a hard time getting into it, actually. "Unite in Pain" opens up explosively, like a classic hardcore track mixed with early extreme metal, with everything full blast right out of the gate, though finding a more comfortable pace as the song goes on. I really enjoyed the melody played with tremolo picking on this one. "My Torturer" describes, in detail, being abducted and then tortured - the song ends shortly after holes have been drilled into the singer's body and acid poured into the holes. The album closes out with the title track, "Grand Morbid Funeral," which opens out with an almost ambient instrumental opening, but moves on into an almost sludge or doom metal romp. The production on the album was just right, which is usually over or under-done on extreme metal albums.
Lyrics — 8
Nick Holmes seems to do a commendable job coming in to perform vocal duties on the album, possibly even allowing the band to escape a little bit from Mikael Åkerfeldt's name and the expectations that go along with his involvement, allowing the band to do something a little bit different. Nick's voice is very well suited to the style on this album, and the backing vocals provided by Blakkheim help add an element of creepiness that serves the album well.
As a sample of the lyrics from the track "Total Death Exhumed," you have: "Corpses allured by the funeral bell/ Under the lid rotten limbs will dispel/ Scratching, crawling for the surface ever calling/ Soil to the wind as coffin walls fall in/ None so vile/ the revenants rise on the doomsday/ From dust to flesh/ Twisted through decay/ In hideous stare/ Shadows rise to the sky/ Nursing paranoia/ Urine rains from up high/ Ridden with filth from beyond the veil/ Insane is the blare that comes riding on the gale/ Blackest bile/ Spewing from their veins/ From ashes to blood/ Leaping remains/ Reeking of mold and bloodshot in eye/ Hordes of disgust f--k peace till it's oh so dry/ Undead parade/ A summoning through the never/ On a left hand path/ Global f--king bloodbath." This is about what I expect, lyrically, from a death metal album - really it is good quality without going too far into the realm of being cheesy, which is a delicate balance for death metal in my mind.
Overall Impression — 7
I'm not the hugest fan of death metal - there are only some albums/songs in the genre that I can really get behind, and luckily this album hits that sweet spot. It both bows back to a more classic death metal sound, but with a fresh energy that keeps the album from feeling musty and boring. "Total Death Exhumed" is my favorite track from the album, due to it seems have more going on from a vibe standpoint than a lot of the rest of the album. My second favorite track is "Mental Abortion," which is due largely to the lead guitar work on the album - awesome job, Blakkheim! My least favorite track was "His Infernal Necropsy," but I couldn't say why - it just didn't have something that the rest of the album did. I found this album to be, mostly, very enjoyable.