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Bloodbath - "The Fathomless Mastery" (CD)

Bloodbath - "The Fathomless Mastery" CD cover image

"The Fathomless Mastery" track listing:

1. At the Behest of Their Death (3:41)
2. Process of Disillumination (3:09)
3. Slaughtering the Will to Live (3:37)
4. Mock the Cross (4:02)
5. Treasonous (4:13)
6. Iesous (3:34)
7. Drink From the Cup of Heresy (3:37)
8. Devouring the Feeble (3:11)
9. Earthrot (3:20)
10. Hades Rising (5:05)
11. Wretched Human Mirror (4:12)

Reviewed by on December 2, 2008

"The odds are very much stacked in Bloodbath's favor that anyone who liked the last EP or is simply a genre aficionado will eat up the new tracks and then beg for more"

Just mere months after the release of the “Unblessing the Purity” EP Bloodbath has now unleashed a new full length album for all those metal fans that just can’t get enough gruesome death and non-stop condemnation of worldwide monotheistic religions. “The Fathomless Mastery,” much like its predecessor, purposefully tries to closely follow the standard death metal formula while offering only minimal innovation as an acknowledgment of the forefathers of the style. The odds are very much stacked in Bloodbath’s favor that anyone who liked the last EP or is simply a genre aficionado will eat up the new tracks and then beg for more, however the album is definitely not without a few flaws that were not present in previous offerings.

The latest album continues the lyrical themes of “Unblessing the Purity,” with Mikael Akerfeldt once more getting his brutal death growl on, grunting and screaming about aborting a certain virgin born child and tearing down the foundations of the religion that he spawned. There is again an intermittent swapping out of lyrical quality, switching between metaphor and symbolism in songs like “At the Behest of their Death” and direct attacks that lack any subtlety in “Mock the Cross.” The vocals are equally as amazing as in the earlier albums, letting the Opeth front man go for a less melodic and more crushing style. Besides the change in tone, the speed with which the lyrics are delivered is also frequently much faster and more rapid fire than what would normally be heard from Akerfeldt. Vocal distortion is put to good use on several of the tracks as well to bolster that throat shredding sound into something even more terrifying.

An unfortunate change that is immediately noticeable from the first song onward is that the production is markedly murkier than it was on “Unblessing the Purity.” It isn’t a total degradation into the abysmal realm of the four track sound, but it definitely lacks the clean and sharp edge of the earlier EP. The problem becomes compounded when coupled with the inherent repetition of classic death metal. When even a few of the details get misplaced it makes a big net loss to the overall product and the likelihood that it will be listened to multiple times. The main drawback to “Unblessing the Purity” was that it was too short, while the opposite complaint holds true here. It would seem that the formula that Bloodbath works towards is best fit for short bursts, as it falters a bit when trying to maintain over a full eleven songs.

The sound effects and voice clips used in earlier releases have for the most part been dropped and instead replaced with guitar tricks to spice up the music and stave off the worst of the repetition. One of the best examples is on “Earthrot,” which has an amazing effect added to the guitar that gives a heavy electronic feel and makes the strings sound like a keyboard. The old standby of layering slightly different takes on the same guitar riff on top of each other also gets called on from time to time. There also occasions when the backgrounds of the guitar players shine through and some of their less brutal licks get displayed for consideration.

An interesting fact to note is that the actor Will Smith inadvertently makes his way onto the final song of the album. During the outro of “Wretched Human Mirror” there are snippets of someone talking placed low in the mix so that they are just barely in the range of hearing. The clips are of Will Smith’s character Robert Neville in the movie “I Am Legend” discussing how society has crumbled and humanity is all but dead after the release of a plague. The clips accurately reflect the tone and mood of the song, but it may be hard for the average death metal fan to take the song seriously once they realize who is doing the talking. Bloodbath can probably be forgiven for the oversight though, as it’s unlikely that they know much about the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, being from Sweden and all.

The cover art of “The Fathomless Mastery” very accurately reflects the sound of the album and the changes that have occurred since “Unblessing the Purity,” with its muted, less focused colors and unnecessary repetition. While the album is still an unholy abomination on the face of the Earth that will lead to copious head banging, it’s just not as compellingly evil or cleanly produced as the last offering.

Highs: Mikael Akerfeldt giving amazing brutal death growls and a new take on the old death metal style

Lows: Lower production than the last album and some unnecessary repitition

Bottom line: Worth your time if you crave more death metal or are just a Mikael Akerfeldt fan

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)