Review: Bloodbath – Grand Morbid Funeral

Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Genre: Death Metal
Released: November 17, 2014
Format Reviewed: FLAC
Feature: Global Conquest – Upcoming Releases

By: Kris Kotlarik

Who’s ready for another pointless subgenre argument?

Elitist death metal fans having been bitching at each other for years (for all intents and purposes, let’s go with the start of the century) about old school death metal and new, “modern” death metal that relies more on melodic guitars and keyboards. And for some unknown reason, Bloodbath guitarist Per Erikkson (from Katatonia) decided to chime in on this debate when describing Grand Morbid Funeral, saying via Queen Of Steel:

“There can be both equal dozes of speed and heaviness in my opinion, but when it comes to the melodic aspect, I prefer my death metal eerie and/or sorrowful, when melodies become too ‘harmonic’ and cheesy you’re killing the darkness in death metal. I think Bloodbath blends the above very delicately, but contemporary ‘core’ metal fans and purists of melodeath are not gonna enjoy this new album. That’s for sure, but maybe their dads will?”

As legend has it, pretty much everyone who is anyone in the Swedish metal scene, including Mikael Åkerfeldt from Opeth, were all drinking one night and said “fuck it, let’s form a death metal band.” What happened to that? Sure, things have changed; Åkerfeldt is no longer in the band and is writing some nice progressive rock these days. When did they become so serious about this purist attitude? That defies the basis on which this band was founded. Melodic death metal has its merits if done right, just like “traditional” death metal can sound tacky and trite if done the wrong way.

Lyrically, this album is about as innovative as any generic rap song (here’s looking at you, “Hot ‘Boy'”). They are as seeped into death metal themes as humanly possible, to the point of being cliche. And the album title completely gives it away, but at least they’re sticking to what they wanted to do originally.

The music, on the other hand, is a nonstop highlight. New vocalist Nick Holmes from Paradise Lost is a surprisingly strong fit, and his parts are the least important aspect of this record. Jonas Renske, also from Katatonia, crushes the bass guitar, and everything else sounds tight.

As for highlights, I’m not even sure where to begin. If I was able to do so, I would take out the brief sample leading into “Anne,” as it doesn’t contribute much to the overall sound. “Total Death Exhumed” had an ending that would have faded out nicely into the former, but that’s just my opinion. I would start with the back end of this record, beginning with “Beyond Cremation,” as it starts amazingly and only gets better for the rest of the album. The rest should be considered as solid material as long as lyrics don’t matter to you.

Overall: The #1 album for headbanging and/or speeding while driving from 2014. 

Rating: 4.0*

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