Sound — 5
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.
Lyrics — 8
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.
Overall Impression — 5
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.