Bloodbeat – Process of Extinction Review

Bloodbeat hail from Germany and have been creating death-infused thrash metal since 2014. Process of Extinction is their sophomore full-length release, five years following their debut, Murderous Art, back in 2016. Owing to my usual repertoire of music, these are not sentences that I type out too often; their music is not my usual cup of tea, and I suspect I’d enjoy their work more if they… I don’t know, hired an orchestra or something. But sometimes you need music that slays, and that’s exactly what I was in the mood for when I opted to take on this review. A little thrash with a little death sounded perfect, and with influences like Napalm Death and Slayer, Bloodbeat feels like the formula for success. But do they deliver?

I’m going to start with Bloodbeat‘s strengths, and more specifically with the most important of their strengths: Bloodbeat riff, and they riff good. With only a couple of exceptions, no song leans too heavily on its own primary ideas, and guitarists Jason Kuhn and Daniel Dokic prove to be agile, skilled, and capable players throughout. The sharp guitar tone gives the album a welcome edge and gritty streak, making songs like “Pulse” thunderous, memorable samples of thrashy, angry, heavy metal. Opener “Creative Murder” weaves in just enough melody to draw the listener in, beginning with a bang and refusing to let momentum go through a succinct thirty-seven-minute runtime. When the band incorporates lead lines and solos, as in “No Control,” they feel fresh, multifaceted, and altogether sharp.

Despite the strong basis to build on, however, there are a few elements to the sound that don’t mesh together so well as I might have hoped after the opening salvo. No song is poorly-written, and, as I said, the riffs are generally excellent, but it’s hard to avoid viewing Process of Extinction as a journey with peaks and valleys. For me, the issue is twofold: memorability and power. “Permanent Shadows” is unfortunately lacking in both departments, with little in the way of energy or aggression, despite a solid base sound to draw upon. “Rigor Mortis” demonstrates a similar issue, and it took a few spins of the album to really pinpoint why that is for me; why it is that some songs feel like perfectly fine thrash metal goodness and others feel like essential piles of riff.

Part of it is the vocals; Kuhn has a powerful scream and a good presence, but his harsh annunciations feel at odds with the smooth, clear-cut, polished production job that covers his bandmates. He sounds more like he’s shouting angrily than performing in a death or thrash metal band, which I don’t actively dislike, but does sound a bit odd contrasted with the music. The other part of it is in the bass and drumming. Fux and Paul Hopp (said bassist and drummer, respectively) both do a solid job behind their instruments, and I love how grimy the bass is and how complex the drumming gets at times. They’re just so… quiet. I don’t understand why one would go through the trouble of creating such a dirty, spectacular bass tone and then bury it beneath beautifully-polished guitars, or why the drumming doesn’t get to breathe a little more for impact and energy. In their promo material, the band says they want to create “their own recognizable and distinctive style that immediately throws the listener into the past of 90’s Death Metal” — and I can’t help but feel like only parts of the album hit the mark.

As I scan over the last two paragraphs, I feel like I’m not doing enough to talk up Bloodbeat and Process of Extinction, which I genuinely have enjoyed over the past little while. While it’s true that I can’t shake the feeling that something is missing from this release, I also think it’s well-written, admirably aggressive, and plenty fun enough. I may well be underrating this one, and I went back and forth a fair bit on the score — but it’s hard to shake the distinct feeling that Process of Extinction could have been a lot better, based on everything that it absolutely does do right.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Inverse Records
Websites: | |
Released Worldwide: June 18th, 2021

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