“I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That’s my dream; that’s my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor… and surviving.” Colonel Kurtz from the movie Apocalypse Now. I thought of the madness, horror, and psychotic reality portrayed in the movie Apocalypse Now as I listened to Survival of the Sickest, the new album by Sweden’s death metal masters Bloodbath. This record is simply one of the best albums Bloodbath has created. Each of the 11 tracks on Survival of the Sickest is constructed to provide the listener with an uncompromising blast of sonic devastation.
Survival of the Sickest is the sixth full-length album from Bloodbath. The new album is set to be released on September 9th via Napalm Records. Formed in 1998 by core members Jonas Renske (bass) and Anders Nyström (guitar), the band’s lineup retains Martin “Axe” Axenot (drums) and Nick Holmes (vocals) while adding Tomas Åkvik (guitar). While Tomas has been involved with Bloodbath on tour and a couple of guitar solos on The Arrow of Satan is Drawn, this is his first full-length release with the band.
A distant track with dark portent approaches. This gives way to the onslaught of “Zombie Inferno” and our journey into terror. The razor-sharp riffs of Anders and Tomas cut to the bone. Jonas and Martin keep the pace at breakneck speeds creating tension that amplifies the horror. Nick’s menacing growls and sadistic screams escalate the dread.
For the ultimate in the head-banging groove and throat punching power look no further than “Putrefying Corpse”. Beginning with a barrage of chaotic single notes, hammered chords, and blast beats, the song segues into a punchy groove. This will surely ignite a vicious mosh pit when played live. The bridge features none other than Barney Greenway of Napalm Death adding his harsh vocal attack.
A favorite brimming with malice is “Malignant Maggot Therapy”. The rapid-fire guitars and frenzied guitar solo stacked on a blitz of bass and drums create a sensation of panic. You can feel the maggots squirming upon your skin as they consume the rot within.
Bloodbath injects some blackened death elements into “Born Infernal”. The drums are on point and deadly. Swirling guitars, girthy bass, and blistering single note runs heighten the malevolent vibe. I’m not 100% certain, but I suspect Marc Grewe (Morgoth) is providing some of the chorus vocals. It should be noted that Luc Lemay (Gorguts) is also providing his guttural talents on select tunes.
We’ve only scratched the surface of Survival of the Sickest. You’ll have to listen for yourself and share with us your thoughts. This album should quickly become a must-have death metal classic. The production is very good. There is a great balance of the various instruments with perhaps the bass somewhat obscured. The progression of the tracks is fantastic. The aggressive pacing keeps you riveted. The climax of “No God Before Me” is monumental as the doomier aspects of this song make for a brilliant ending to a masterful album.
Survival of the Sickest by Bloodbath is an apocalyptic death metal album designed to terrorize your soul. Bloodbath has taken the sum of all our fears and focused them into 11 songs of miasmic death. Every song explodes with riffs of unrelenting brutality. Horrific imagery combined with skull-shattering music makes this one of the best death metal albums of 2022.