Scrawl from The Saw’s Butcher Shop: Bloodbath — Survival of the Sickest (2022) ALBUM REVIEW

Welcome to The Saw’s Butcher Shop! The Saw is here, and has determined that it’s time for a blood bath! The supergroup, Bloodbath, released their sixth studio album on September 9, 2022 (Napalm Records). Survival of the Sickest is an old school Death Metal blood-letting! Celebrating the horrors of the dead, death, and dying, the new album is a metaphorical autopsy of societal decay.

Bloodbath

Bloodbath formed in Stockholm, Sweden in 1998, and named themselves after a song by Cancer. Originally, the band consisted of Mikael Akerfeldt (Opeth) on vocals, Dan Swano (Edge of Sanity, Nightingale) on drums, Anders “Blakkheim” Nystrom (Katatonia, Diabolical Masquerade) on guitar, and Jonas Renske (Katatonia, October Tide) on bass. So, just by taking note of these members, you already know the caliber and level of quality that you’re going to get from Bloodbath.

In 2004 Akerfeldt left the band to focus on Opeth. So, to replace a legend on vocals, the band brought in a legend to cover the vocals. Peter Tagtgren (Hypocrisy) joined the band for one album, and the slaughter continued onward. Furthermore, Swano moved to the guitar from playing the drums, and Martin Axenrot (Opeth, Witchery, Satanic Slaughter) was brought in on drums.

In 2005 Tagtgren left the band, and a by the end of the year, Swano left, also. Akerfeldt would return for another album in 2008, before leaving the band permanently in 2012. Finally, in September of 2014, “Old Nick” Holmes (Paradise Lost), the legendary front-man, joined the band, and the slaughter continued with another legend at the helm.

The brilliant line-up has remained steady ever since:

  • Anders “Blakkheim” Nystrom – guitar and backing vocals (1998 – present)
  • Jonas “Lord Seth” Renske – bass and backing vocals (1998 – present)
  • Martin “Axe” Axenrot – drums and percussion (2004 – present)
  • “Old Nick” Holmes – lead vocals (2012 – present)
  • Tomas “Plytet” Akvik – guitar (2022, session 2017 – 2022)

Survival of the Sickest

The new album proceeds further into the dark realms of (ironically) reality. It is a superb lesson in crushing Death Metal, extremely dark commentaries vocally communicated via the clarity of “Old Nick” gutterals, and a relentless attack – which forces us to face the brutal horrors of our present age.

For 44 minutes, Survival of the Sickest mutilates the listener in two ways: “Zombie Inferno” and “Carved” are the two singles on the record, and are great headings to mark the two distinct means of dissection. The former, along with “Malignant Maggot Therapy,” “Born Infernal,” “Tales of Melting Flesh,” and “Environcide” are the faster paced tracks on the record. Not blindingly speedy, but fast, with precision riffing, screeching solos, multiple time changes, and perfectly executed vocals. These five tracks are wicked, and leave you begging for more beatings! Thank you, may I have another, please?!

The latter (“Carved”) is joined by “Putrefying Corpse,” “Dead Parade,” “To Die,” “Affliction of Extinction,” and “No God Before Me.” These six tracks are my favorites, containing the same musical and vocal precision, but with bounce, groove, catchy hooks, and Slam riffs. “No God Before Me” is a bit different, in the sense that it is the one, lone (more) Gothic song on the album. With all the same characteristics of the other tracks, it is the one where “Old Nick” modifies slightly his vocal delivery. It’s awesome!

Really, you will not go wrong with any song on Survival of the Sickest. All of these guys are masters of what they do, and they deliver on this album. For the past 10 years Bloodbath have perfected their art, surgery with no anesthesia! With minimal atmospheric filler, this album expresses how Death Metal is supposed to sound – stacking riffs and gutterals like your stacking bodies and body parts!

Rating: 10/10!! Incredible musicianship – perfectly executed Old School Death Metal

Favorite Songs: Putrefying Corpse, Dead Parade, Carved, Environcide

Stay Metal,

The SAW