The big news on this one is the replacement of Mikael Åkerfeldt by Nick Holmes of Paradise Lost. For many fans (co-blogger Jing En included), this is a serious downgrade. For me, he's a definitely a step down from two of the best death metal vocalists in business (the other being Peter Tägtgren, the better Bloodbath vocalist). However, I would like to add that there is a distinguishable quality to Homles' voice, he isn't very good at grunting out words in a rapid manner, but his long,growls are sufficiently executed. His presence has possibly also prompted the band to touch on Gothic soundscapes, more on which I shall explain in the respective songs:
- Let The Stillborn Come To Me - A decent first song with a catchy riff. There's really nothing more to add (do people expect complexity from Bloodbath anyway?)
- Total Death Exhumed - This song features guitarist Eric Cutler from Autopsy (he plays lead guitar on four songs here). Needless to say, the guest solo spot is not wasted here. At this point, Martin Axenrot's drums start to stand out. Having played subtle jazz rhythms on Opeth's latest, he plays death metal with relative ease and confidence, and enough touches of pizzazz, exactly the style needed for a band whose theme is old metallers relieving the yesteryears of this genre.
- Anne - This one has a nice chorus, and a hint of atmosphere. Nothing much else to add.
- Church Of Vastitas - This one ventures into doom metal territory. Nick Holmes sounds underwhelming here though (some might complain he sounds underwhelming in general).
- Famine Of God's Word - This one's a serious headbanger. One of the faster songs on the album
- Mental Abortion - Second song with Eric Cutler on leads. It's quite weird that a session musician has the biggest impact on the band (as opposed to you know, the band writing proper songs by themselves).
- Beyond Cremation - Another headbanger, this is an outstanding song with riffs that come straight from Slayer's hey-day. Holmes sounds a bit more comfortable here. The Goth (and sludge) elements come back in the bridge of this song. Overall, quite well-written.
- His Infernal Necropsy - Death metal by the numbers. This has blastbeats (which have been pretty rare o the album).
- Unite In Pain - The first single, and the one that had fans outraged by Holmes' vocals. On the other hand, I am ecstatic with Cutler's contributions here, from the solo in the introduction to the main riff, THIS is old school death metal.
- My Torturer - The last song to feature Cutler, who goes out with a serious bang with one hell of a guitar solo at the end. The chorus is definitely memorable, this is one of the best songs on the album.
- Grand Morbid Funeral - Save the best for last, eh? This time, the song features Chris Reifert, the vocalist/drummer of Autopsy. If anything, this album proves how much of a better band Autopsy are than Bloodbath. Reifert comes at the end with the strongest vocals on the album, with a mad, ferocious approach that is unforgettable.
As you can see, I am not very favourable to this album. One thing that seriously undermines everyone's performances here is the production, it's not jut the paltry production at DR5 (why compress sounds if you are going for old school?) it's the tones and the mix, which make the guitars sound extremely dull and powerless (save for the Autopsy guys). Some effects on Holmes' voice could have been nice, everyone knows the previous two vocalists had effects on their vocals, given how good they may be.
Overall, there are a few good songs here and there, but I will definitely be returning to the older Bloodbath records.