Bloodbath – “The Wacken Carnage” review

Playing at the biggest venue in metal, Wacken Open Air, is a fantastic accomplishment that many bands can only fathom. To perform for nearly 70,000 roaring metalheads in your first live gig is truly a unique achievement which few bands can claim. Swedish death metal outfit Bloodbath is no ordinary band however. Touted as a conglomeration of death metal elite, Bloodbath lives up to the reputation. The live band consists of drummer Martin Axenrot (Opeth, ex-Witchery), bassist Jonas Renske (Katatonia), lead guitarist Anders Nyström (Diabolical Masquerade), vocalist Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth), and guitarist/vocalist/drummer/microphone technician/costume designer/all-around-badass Dan Swanö (Edge of Sanity, Pan.Thy.Monium, Katatonia).

To commemorate their first, and reportedly last, concert, Bloodbath released a DVD entitled The Wacken Carnage. The DVD features a handful of tracks from each of their previous releases, including several from their debut EP, Breeding Death. Without hesitation, Bloodbath opens the concert immediately bringing forth vivid memories of old school death metal bands such as Entombed, Dismember, and Suffocation. Akerfeldt makes this ode to old school death metal apparent when describing the goals and aspirations of Bloodbath. ‘Brave New Hell’ starts off with a classic drop beat on drums, which the band affectionately calls the “Stockholm Beat,” and ‘Furnace Funeral’ contains a rendition of Entombed’s ‘Left Hand Path’ guitar solo.

Fans of Åkerfeldt in Opeth must be forewarned, for Åkerfeldt drops the guise of a tender-hearted proghead; instead, he sounds as if he came straight from hell on a demonic mission. While not overly adventurous, the instrumentation on the DVD is accurate, aggressive, and blends perfectly with Mikael’s demonic vocals. Tremolo picking and blast beats are plentiful, but not overused. Renske on bass is barely audible at times, but this does not necessarily hurt the overall quality of the performance.

The latter half of the album contains the most important tracks, those which truly display Bloodbath’s passion and knack for creating top-notch death metal. ‘Bastard Son of God,’ a blazingly fast track which forces me to headbang, showcases Bloodbath’s songwriting talent. The scream issued by Swanö and Åkerfeldt before the last chorus of the song ranks as one of my favorite moments in metal. ‘Breeding Death,’ although over a decade old, is still fantastically vicious, with both gut-wrenching passages of brutality and inviting melodic lines. The encore, ‘Eaten,’ is a very appropriate way for the bloodstained band to end their set. Inspired by the infamous case of internet cannibalism (Google: Armin Meiwes), ‘Eaten’ is clearly the fan favorite, and rightfully so. The track is simply a wrecking ball, nothing too technical, but devastating nonetheless.

Most songs on the DVD seem to present as a combination of Dismember’s Like an Everflowing Stream and Entombed’s Clandestine with less emphasis on lead guitar. While Bloodbath is clearly trying to reminisce and pay homage to the Swedish bands that produced classic death metal, they create a unique, memorable sound via precise and passionate musicianship.

-Matt

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One Response to “Bloodbath – “The Wacken Carnage” review”

  1. In all honesty, it would a shame to waste a such good reading.

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