No matter how over saturated or played out a musical genre may become, there are always one or two bands that can make it all vibrant, fresh and new again. Whether it’s their raw conviction, enthusiasm or killer song writing, those bands make the years melt away and remind you how it felt to hear the style for the very first time. That rush of excitement, feeling of awe and the sense of being there at the next step in metal’s evolution, that’s what it’s all about! When it comes to classic Swedish death metal, Blood Mortized is THAT band for me. 2012s The Key to a Black Heart made the style feel reborn and reminded me how it felt to hear Entombed‘s Left Hand Path for the first time. I played Key more than any other death metal platter in 2012 and it made my year-end Top Ten. Now they return with The Demon, the Angel, the Disease and expectations couldn’t have been higher from yours truly.
While there’s all the expected blasts of Entombed and Unleashed influenced death, this time the band brings you more nuance and diversity in mood and atmosphere. They also dabble more extensively in doom and there’s a noticeable Bolt Thrower influence creeping in as well. Oddly enough, in the rare moments when they aren’t trying to remove your tonsils with rusty salad tongs, the music is actually quite beautiful in a dark, sinister way.
Out of the gate you get ruinated with back to back slobberknockers “Bastard” and “In the Black Flames of Desolation,” both slashing with thick, buzzing riffs that channel the very best of Entombed, early Amorphis and even Cemetery. “My Soul, Your Flesh” opens with riffs and vocals that remind me of the long-lost Morgoth and you get tons of Bolt Thrower flavor in the bruising “I Am the Dead” and “Barbarian Lust.”
“Master of Pain” stands out due to a vintage Unleashed styled riff that’s so simple, but so damn catchy. They take said riff and use it to beat the pickles and piss out of you, stopping only for a doomy, dreary mid-section with scads of atonal and odd harmonies. They repeat this trick on “Noiseterror” which features the exact kind of bouncing, yet crushing riff that Unleashed sported on classics like “Onward Into Countless Battles” and “To Asgaard We Fly.”
They show off a new side during the melodic, melancholy doom/death of “I Leave With Hate,” which takes a page from the sullen books of Rapture and Insomnium and does them proud. There’s also quite a bit of intriguing, understated harmony work on tracks like “I Am the Dead” (2:55 onward in particular) and “My Soul, Your Flesh,” with the latter also exhibiting a coolly moody doom style at times.
Over the past few years, Anders Biazzi has become one of my favorite riff smiths and between his work on Blood Mortized and Just Before Dawn, the guy has churned out some of the best stuff in extreme metal. He has the knack for creating brilliantly vintage, old school death riffs and he seems to have an endless supply of them in his warped little noggin. This album is certainly jammed packed with them and every track has one that rips and tears at you like a rabid weasel. Biazzi and Gustav Myrin also step up the harmonies and solos, generating various bleak feelings of dread and depression (check out the one beginning at 4:18 on “I Leave With Hate” for a prime example). A highly impressive performance across the boards.
As if that wasn’t enough, the band features Mattias Parkkila, who I consider one of the best death metal croakers in the game today. His ungodly roars and thick, nasty croaks put mouth breathers like Glen Benton to absolute shame. This man sounds like prime evil erupting from the soggy ground (like the zombie Lemmy that adorns the cover) and he makes every song that much better with his savage delivery. Add to that a powerful and loud performance at the kit by Brynjar Helgetun (Ribspreader, Megascavenger, etc.), and you have quite the big fucking deal.
The sound and mix is also rock-solid. The guitars are raw and huge and the drums have a great, organic sound. The whole thing sounds scabby and crusty and that completes the package with a rotten cherry on top.
I didn’t expect these guys to let me down and they certainly didn’t. This is as good as The Key to a Black Heart and even a little better due to the diversity of styles and moods. It holds my attention across twelve blistering death metal tunes, which is a rare thing for me, and it gets better with every spin. If you love death metal and haven’t yet heard Blood Mortized, you’re an awful person and need to remedy that shortcoming immediately. A late contender for Album of the Year for sure.