September 2022 saw the unleashing of the highly anticipated new album from Swedish/UK super group Bloodbath. Its hard to believe but this year will mark the bands 25th anniversary, and whilst this album came a few months to early to celebrate that fact, it seemed appropriate to mention this all the same. ‘Survival of the Sickest’ is the bands sixth studio offering and comes as something of a departure, as the bands relationship with Peaceville has ended and Napalm Records have taken up the reigns.
My go to Bloodbath album has always been 2008’s ‘The Fathomless Mastery’, with its barked vocal styles, cutting and savage riff style and its overall air of predatory menace. ‘Survival of the Sickest’ is a very different beast and the band have evolved a great deal in those intervening fourteen years. This is a sleek, magnificent beast of an album. Where as in the past the riffs would almost seem to bite, now they take on a thickened, meaty sound so as to kill be crushing suffocation. Before, the bands style was direct, straight up violence, whereas Bloodbath have now progresses into a far more nuanced band, whose sound is infused with a high level of groove drenched melody; still heavy as sin but with a far more silky, flowing ambiance. Tracks like ‘Death Parade’ are a perfect example of both the old and the new Bloodbath; a track with slower technical grace, intricate guitar melodies and powerful drum tones, but with a more urgent, on rushing underbelly that surges forward before taking over and treating us to the older, more bitterly penetrating sound.
Something that ‘Survival of the Sickest’ contains that all Bloodbath albums have featured is an obscene amount of technical savagery from all involved. As you would expect, the vocal work of Nick Holmes are raw, commanding and influential, whilst the drumming style of Martin Axenrot is layered, brutal and yet measured and composed. Jonas Renkse wields his bass like a weapon and lays down a colossal bass tone throughout, whilst guitarists Anders Nyström and newest member Tomas Åkvik lay down an ungodly amount of cataclysmic riffs, and brooding guitar melodies.
‘Survival of the Sickest’ is a predictably barbaric album but with so much more going for it than just that. The track of the album for me is ‘Born Infernal’ which interestingly features a guest collaboration with Luc Lemay for Canadian band Gorguts. I challenge you not to be grimly enchanted by this album.