Unlike the more northerly regions of Europe, the Iberian Peninsula is not often thought of when the metal scene is considered as a whole. There are bands, many of them well-known and respected, but the area is not Germany or Finland. Thought of even less is the Galacia region of Spain. But all the same, it’s spat up a lively little melodic death three-piece (after some down-sizing) in Bloodhunter. The name might be a little silly1, but the music is not, fusing a traditional Gothenberg sound with hints of mid-period Death for their sophomore album The End of Faith. Is this an act to watch, or are they destined for continued obscurity?
The album begins simply enough with a short instrumental opener. Unlike most examples of such, Bloodhunter‘s jumps immediately into attention-seizing riffage leading into a blistering solo, setting the stage for much of the album as it segues into the title track. Though never short on meaty riffs, the real name of the game for this album is solos, clocking in a total number that would make some thrash albums blush with envy. And while many melodeath bands would be content solely aping big Gothenberg acts, and the styling of the solos certainly reminds of Michael Amott (Arch Enemy), guitarist Fenris boasts a whole heap of Schuldinerian riffage across the album as well, with particular highlights found on “The End of Faith,” “Still Standing Up,” “All These Souls Shall Serve Forever,” and “Let the Storm Come.” Also deserving attention is instrumental track “Death & Rebirth,” a dichotomous number contrasting a ripping and rollicking first half with a more somber and melodious second. The album closes, naturally enough given the riffing and loosely focused theme of religious criticism, with a cover of Death‘s “Crystal Mountain.” Said cover, like a lot of covers of metal classics, trends close to the source material and thereby defies analysis. It simply is.
In a genre as narrowly defined as melodeath, innovation can be difficult, and so is the case here. While well-executed, the riffing that does not remind of Death is instead reminiscent of At the Gates‘ Slaughter of the Soul. If, like me, your entry into more extreme sorts of metal came by way of the second wave of metalcore, you might feel over-saturated by that album. That said, it’s an individual problem, but did impact the overall score. Less variable is a problem with the solos. While enjoyable, repeated listens revealed them to be largely flash and lacking sorely in actual technical wizardry. With little substance and staying power, these solos become rather boring, which is a problem when there are over a dozen of them over the ten non-cover tracks. The only track where this isn’t an issue is the all-around excellent “Death & Rebirth.” Additionally, “Spirits of Sin,” situated between the excellent “Souls” and “Storm,” tends to fade into the background.
Fenris’s previously-discussed guitar work is front and center, but the rest of the band is solid at worst. Vocalist Diva Satanica rasps, roars, and rages like a woman possessed, her performance somewhat reminiscent of enough other performers to make it simply her own. Surprisingly, the mix is deserving of high praise, masterfully balancing the instrumentation so as not bury any one performance. Éadrom’s bass thrums wonderfully as it carries the rhythm and riffage through each racing guitar solo, and session drummer Marcelo Aires hammers away at his kit loud and clear; and while Aires does not wrench anything spectacular from the kit, his work is solid and fits the needs of the rest of the track at any given instant, a valuable assent in melodeath.
While very competently executed on the whole, and certainly enjoyable to listen to (because who doesn’t miss Chuck?), The End of Faith struggles a bit with overuse of flashy elements in the solo department; greater exhibition of technical expertise might have won the day here. I wish the band luck, and suspect that they have a bright future ahead of them.
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Xtreem Music
Websites: bloodhunter.bandcamp.com | bloodhunter.net | facebook.com/BLOODHUNTEROfficial
Releases Worldwide: October 16th, 2017