Bloodbath - The Fathomless Mastery
Peaceville Records
Death Metal
11 songs (41:42)
Release year: 2008
Bloodbath, Peaceville Records
Reviewed by James

Since Mikael Akerfeldt returned to the Bloodbath camp this year, the band have become surprisingly prolific, 2008 bringing us The Wacken Carnage live album, the Unblessing The Purity EP, and now, with The Fathomless Mastery, a full-length. I suppose I'm the wrong person to be reviewing this, not being the sort of hardcore death metal fan who'll pick up on their affecionate homage to the form. Of course, the cynics among you will be banging on about how I'm blissfully aware of how derivative the whole thing is. Being in unfamiliar territory, I suppose you'll have to bear with me a little for this one.

Perhaps I should start by the man who'll no doubt be drawing more than a few listeners to this, being none other than Opeth mastermind Mikael Akerfeldt. In my humble opinion, he's one of the best vocalists in the business, but here he seems held back a bit. He's surprisingly low in the mix for someone you'd expect the band to be showing off as their finest asset, and his voice sounds unusually dry here. The annoying habit of layering his vocals throughout the album doesn't help matters, either. Still, he's more than capable, but fans of his other work will know he's capable of a lot better.

Now that I've proven to you all that I'm no more than a poseur mallcore kiddie by mentioning Mr Akerfeldt first, I suppose I should tackle, y'know, the actual music. I'll admit to not really knowing the difference between good and bad death metal (I seem to say that in every death metal review, don't I? Must investigate the genre further...), but hey, it compels me to throw the horns and put on my best death grunt, so I suppose that counts for something, yes? Bloodbath certainly have a knack for catchy riffs, and I'm sure the likes of Mock The Cross and At The Behest Of Their Death will be looping around your head for weeks to come. Indeed, the whole thing might be too catchy and groovy for the more elitist among you. Admittedly, the band rarely stray above mid-paced, and I for one would like to see a bit more of the blasting aggression that we see on Drink From The Cup Of Heresy. A small complaint would be that the album occasionally feels a bit bitty, due to the fact that there are three different songwriters here. Interestingly, it's the newcomer to the line-up Per “Sodomizer” Eriksson of the relatively obscure (in comparison with the more well-known projects of the other members) 21 Lucifers who steals the show here, the three songs he contributes being perhaps the album's best. One to watch in the future, then.

It's not going to set the world alight, sure, but then Bloodbath aren't about that in the slightest. When taken as a group of friends paying tribute to the death metal that inspired them in their youth, then The Fathomless Mastery is a very enjoyable little headbang indeed. It's expertly played (It's a shame Martin Axenrot's drumming is a little low in the mix, his style suits the band perfectly), generally well-written, if a little shy of greatness, and ends before it has time to get boring. I doubt it'll be in my playlist for years to come, but if you're the sort of person who eats this up, then this is a highly recommended purchase.

Killing Songs :
Mock The Cross, Drink From The Cup Of Heresy, Earth Rot
James quoted 74 / 100
Goat quoted 72 / 100
Other albums by Bloodbath that we have reviewed:
Bloodbath - Grand Morbid Funeral reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
Bloodbath - Unblessing the Purity (EP) reviewed by Dylan and quoted no quote
Bloodbath - Nightmares Made Flesh reviewed by Aaron and quoted 95 / 100
Bloodbath - Resurrection Through Carnage reviewed by Crims and quoted 92 / 100
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