Death power Bloodbath return with renewed carnage, violent rage on ‘Survival of the Sickest’

We are entering into the season where we celebrate horror and watch slasher films where blood is shed, and we bask in the vilest of human tendencies. It’s a perverse escape from the real world, where the terror actually is far worse and permeates our society, damaging people’s psyches and means of comfort. Suddenly, a masked serial killer disemboweling an innocent teen in a movie seems not too gross.

This is the perfect time of the year for us to welcome new music from Bloodbath, the long-running death metal horde dotted by some of the most accomplished musicians in the entire genre. The band—vocalist Nick Holmes, guitarists Anders Nyström and Tomas Åkvik, bassist Jonas Renkse, drummer Martin Axenrot—also spread their darkness in other powers including Paradise Lost, Katatonia, Opeth, Lik, Blasphemous, and plenty others, and they again prove their terrifying meddle on crushing sixth record “Survival of the Sickest.” With 11 tracks spread over 45 minutes, if their first new long player in four years and manages to be one of the most violent offerings on their resume, proving there is no such thing as too much bloodlust or buckets of guts one can spill on the floor. It’s gloriously gross.

“Fucked! Nowhere to run!” is how opener “Zombie Inferno” tears open, Holmes’ growls swirling around your head as the playing chugs, and the blood flows. Leads spiral as the vocals grow even more hellish, ending in a pool of guts. “Putrefying Corpse” destroys as the riffs collect and land blows, the speed becomes a greater factor, and the growls are absolutely barked. The murk collects as the band trudges anew, Holmes howling, “Kingdoms burning as the master dies, building evil from a new foundation,” as the swarms heads into hell. “Dead Parade” crashes through the gates with pure brutality as murky synth moves, and a spellbinding chorus does ample damage. A strong and inventive solo rages as things veer toward proggy territory, everything ending in shadows. “Malignant Maggot Therapy” has divebombing riffs and growls that curdle in your stomach, the pace first playing games and then engulfing fully. Total chaos is achieved as the guitars shred veins and the drums mash digits. “Carved” mashes right away, going for the throat, tearing at your muscles. The chorus is simple as the title is howled, followed by, “Disemboweled and scarred, ravenous and starved,” which is fun to hear as it probably was for Holmes to regurgitate. There are thrashier moments, blunt force in others, and everything ends in a pile of goo. “Born Infernal” brings zapping guitars and a plastering assault, the humidity eventually becoming a factor. The tempo races as the chorus mauls and Holmes belts, “Evil will tear us down into the dead of night,” as the assault burns and leaves ash behind.

“To Die” chugs with animalistic fury, the throaty growls tunneling into your chest, spilling blood. The playing turns mind-numbing as a simple, yet effective chorus makes its presence felt, slowly disappearing into the path of infernal winds. “Affliction of Extinction” brings bending leads and a brawling mentality, the channeled terror eating into your ribcage. An airy solo adds some unexpected atmosphere, yet the growls bring us back to miserable earth, Holmes calling, “For the weary choose oblivion, our saviour’s godless suicide, demented forced starvation, affliction of extinction,” as the track rests in the mud and filth. “Tales of Melting Flesh” opens with the drums mauling and riffs jolting, Holmes’ growls destroying psyches. “Oblivion, burned out, with the outmost darkened fear,” Holmes jars as the playing makes your footing increasingly unsteady, your frayed nerves treated to a warped music box that drains out at the end. “Environcide” hits hard from the start and delivers serious crunch, leading a horrific attack that doesn’t even know where the brakes are located. Horrific howls and evil cackles inject the fear and anger, while immersive leads flood your brain with colors as Arctic winds devour everything in its path. Closer “No God Before Me” stomps through mud as the pace is pulled back a few notches, though the heaviness is served generously. The playing boils in brutality, warped and scathing melodies create a tornadic effect, and Holmes howls, “The slur of demons electing death, ministry, inverted clergy I grasp at chains, my poisoned breath contaminated undead journey,” as group calls swell and drag you off into the night.

There was no reason to think a new Bloodbath record wouldn’t be a force of violence and devastation, but the carnage packed into “Survival of the Sickest” is a force you almost won’t see coming. This is a nasty, crushing, bloody serving, a death metal attack a few notches filthier than what we’ve come to expect from this super force of the most putrid art form known to humankind. That’s all a wordy way of saying Bloodbath still fucking rule, and they remain capable to delivering records that can torch even the most veteran of death metal listeners.

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