Welcome back to Throwback Thursday! This is the place where we get to indulge in nostalgia and wax poetic about excellent metal of years past. For TBT number 47, let's get Mariana Trench deep with Bloodbath's sophomore album Nightmares Made Flesh.
BLOODBATH'S NIGHTMARES MADE FLESH
Release Date: September 2004
Record Label: Metal Blade
Generally speaking, the term 'supergroup' makes me want to gag. It's not a bad idea in theory, but far too often the execution of these 'dream lineups' result in unfortunate side effects like pompous stage antics, and ill-paired and lazily-executed musical ideas. The worst offense by an all-star lineup lies in the hype around the expectation of greatness aside from the musical product; It's arrogant and annoying. Even our darkened, evil corner of the music-verse isn't free from supergroupitude. We've found ourselves walking around metaldom clamoring for ear plugs thanks to a variety of mega-group offerings that have failed on so, so many levels (and are, in fact, not at all super). Take, for example, Damnocracy (Sebastian Bach, Ted Nugent, Scott Ian, Evan Seinfeld and Jason Bonham), Metallica and Lou Reed, and Slash's Snakepit.
So, for the aforementioned reasons, I hesitate to call Bloodbath a supergroup, even though they are often referred to as such. Sure, the member roster for the band has included some of the most influential musicians in metal from over the last 20 years. However, not for one moment does Bloodbath rely on reputation to carry the name of the of band.
Born in a rehearsal studio, the name "Bloodbath" comes from a song by the English band Cancer. Bloodbath guitarist Anders Nyström (Katatonia) quips in a 2011 interview from the Bloodbath over Bloodstock live dvd, "Bloodbath is the perfect name for a death metal band. It is the perfect way to describe death metal band – gore, satanism, obscurity – everything that's really not to be found in the mainstream… It's a hell of an entertainment."
One reason Bloodbath does not fall into the supergroup category is thanks to their continual effort to create and produce new music. Nightmares Made Flesh is Bloodbath's second studio release. After stunning audiences with their first EP Breeding Death and subsequent studio album Resurrection Through Carnage, Bloodbath sought to prove themselves beyond the novelty of an impressive line up. Working toward avoiding the 'one trick pony' stamp of disapproval, Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth) stepped out as vocalist after Resurrection Through Carnage, allowing Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy, PAIN) to step in an record vocals for their newest effort. That effort, Nightmares Made Flesh, is a refreshingly brutal pillar of death metal excellence. Check out track "Eaten":
"Eaten" isn't a mere throwback or thoughtless homage to classic death metal stylings. Tägtgren's vocals sound like mountains ripping apart; they're huge, excelling in depth and power that is as impressive as it is inhuman. They're just fucking stunning, and the mid-slow tempo of the song allows them to simply excel.
Another reason that Bloodbath doesn't exemplify a super group, is because not a single member of the group thought to create Bloodbath for the sake of inventing a dick-swinging popularity vortex. No, in fact Bloodbath started with the sheer love of death metal. "I was always a death metal fan. There was always an urge to play that really basic, brutal death metal," says Nyström. "And, Jonas and I were always foolin' around when we were just ya know, going down to the rehearsal place waiting for the other guys to show up and stuff, ya know? Let's play some Cancer, let's play some Obituary…" On again off again Åkerfeldt said this of the band (in his usual amused and clever tone), "We just did it for fun. It wasn't anything we needed to do." This says so much of the motivation of the band. Musicians and like-minded friends and colleagues came together to do what made sense to them, not what would sell tickets and t-shirts. Check out album opener "Cancer of the Soul":
This track is so clean and tight, and yet it's so ugly and churning. Dan Swanö (Edge of Sanity) swapped his position on drums on Resurrection Through Carnage to guitar for Nightmares Made Flesh, and Martin Axenrot (Opeth) stepped in on drums for the album. Axenrot's signatures tinklings amid scathing speed are immediately recognizable and give the songs an extra energy, heat, and humor.
Jonas Renkse (Katatonia), Bloodbath's long-time bassist, reflects on their sound by calling it "straight from the grave." He and other bandmates have referenced multiple times that the influences for the band are rooted in groups like the Swedish Entombed, and Dismembered, Carnage, Autopsy, and Morbid Angel. Renkse goes on to say that, "I don't wanna be a copy cat, but [we] take the influences and give them their own little twist." This sentiment could've remained unsaid thanks to tracks like "Outnumbering the Day":
This is easily my favorite track off of the album. It carries all the plutonium-heavy riffs and vocals spiced up with simple hooks with unexpected syncopation and melody.
Bloodbath comes out with a new album in just a few weeks. My hope for the band, if they chose to continue even further, is that they maintain the quality of the vision by honing in on the initial values no matter who is a part of the lineup. It would be exciting to see new faces come in and color the hue of the band with their own signature sound and long as the idea was the same – make vicious and smartly produced music.