|The world is in flames, and “Survival Of The Sickest” – produced by BLOODBATH and co-produced and mixed by Lawrence Mackrory at Rorysound Studios – offers no respite from the horrors of reality. Instead, with the addition of new guitarist Tomas ‘Plytet’ Åkvik (Lik) onboard, BLOODBATH’s latest and greatest album gleefully confronts the slavering ghoul lurking in the shadows and treats him to ten songs of ripping death metal frenzy.
Alongside BLOODBATH’s official alumni, “Survival Of The Sickest” boasts a smattering of irresistible cameos from the great, good and ghoulish of the metal underground, including Barney Greenway (Napalm Death), Luc Lemay (Gorguts) and Marc Grewe (Morgoth).
“If there was a declaration of goods attached to this album, it would say Florida death metal exported from Sweden.”
From the thuggish brain-smash of opener “Zombie Inferno” to the bleak, obsidian ooze of closer “No God Before Me”, “Survival Of The Sickest” is the sound of a great band in blistering form. In contrast with “The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn”, which borrowed heavily from the blackened end of the death metal world, the new BLOODBATH goes straight for the jugular in true old school fashion.
With strong echoes of everything from Morbid Angel and Death to Deicide and Obituary, songs like the rampaging “Putrefying Corpse”, the disgustingly slow and heavy “Dead Parade”, and the deliciously twisted “Tales of Melting Flesh” breathe fresh fire into an arcane, perpetually rotting formula. Formed by Jonas Renkse and Anders Nyström (both of KATATONIA), Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth) and Dan Swanö (Edge of Sanity) in 1998, BLOODBATH devoted themselves to resurrecting the increasingly forgotten art of pure death metal. In 2014, they unveiled a new front man – legendary Paradise Lost vocalist Nick Holmes, now redubbed Old Nick – and yet another macabre musical evolution.
With this new line-up, the only way to go was grim. On “Survival Of The Sickest”, BLOODBATH evoke their most horrifying sonic scenarios to date, from the death-by-munching nightmare of “Malignant Maggot Therapy”, to the murderous nihilism of “Affliction Of Extinction”.
A glorious comeback from a legendarily wicked musical force, “Survival Of The Sickest” provides yet more proof that BLOODBATH are the kings of the old school.