Sound — 8
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.
Lyrics — 7
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.
Overall Impression — 8
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.