Album Review: Bloodbath – “Grand Morbid Funeral”

Grand Morbid Funeral
(Peaceville Records)

Bloodbath has been putting out albums since 2002. Since forming in 1998, they continue being regarded as a Swedish Death Metal supergroup. Despite your opinions of that term, the pedigree is undeniable; with members of Witchery, Opeth and Katatonia comprising the band. Being on Century Media from the jump, and then on Peaceville, secures their insurance of higher echelon status. Fans retreated into worry earlier this year when the vocalist, Mikael Akerfeldt, left and Nick of Paradise lost stepped up to the mic. Despite legendary status of being in The Peaceville Three and releasing a career defining album in 2012, most death metal fans view his band, Paradise Lost, as a goth band and not the sentinel being of doom metal which they deserve.

Holmes kicked all expectations in the balls and stood proudly. Twenty five years as a vocalist will do that. Faith restored. While Akerfeldt’s vocals were a notch deeper in tone, the savage delivery of venom and rasp of Holmes fits just as well. The opening of the album has a gripping riff which bursts into machine gun snares and a demonic wretch from Holmes extinguish all naysayers. Death and total annihilation are the themes of this dark and mean album. The time changes and experimentation with attention span is a hallmark here, guaranteeing no audience will be tempted to hit skip.

The body of “Total Death Exhumed” plays with a killer mid-tempo breakdown and spurts into furious blastbeats. Divebombs decorate the transitions and Holmes’ commanding vocals will stop listeners in miod-sentence . A personal highlight are the grinding, sludgy riffs of “Anne”; proving that guitarists Anders “Blakkheim” Nyström and Per “Sodomizer” Eriksson can handle all the dynamics of a killer death metal album.

“Mental Abortion” is a charged nod to Entombed and Motorhead that quickly ascends to a slow gallop for all heads to bang in unison. Catching phrases like “a maelstrom of death” and “human decay”, as Holmes vocals bandy between front and background, shows the effort and variables in the production approach. A slow, swirling atmosphere is planted in the middle before returning to the devastation of the riff. “Unite in Pain” is a blistering tune that marches forward with testosterone. Different approach to the standard of driving drums and riffs

“Beyond Cremation” deals with speed. Drummer Martin Axenrot unleashes a robotic performance in the realm of Cattle Decapitation or Pig Destroyer; balancing bass drums, toms, a cymbals and snare. While haunting growls scream and move into menacing vocals. Then a breakdown that this hardcore dude adores is planted in the bridge. Jonas Renske, handling bass duties, delivers through the album. He supplies an adaptive spine of bass lines to each song.

This album ended up on quite a few top metal albums of 2014, and deservedly. Grand Morbid Funeral is a vicious piece of Swedish Death Metal as it should be. Monstrous and intimidating, this will be a classic, demanding many repeat plays.

FFO: At The Gates, Entombed, Dismember, Grave (Hutch)

Purchase Grand Morbid Funeral here.

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