Bloodspot – The Cannibal Instinct Review

In the most recent AMG Beer Hour(s), we joked about all the bands that claim inter-genre success. These bands say they’re so aware of metaldom that they can mix genres in the most convincing ways. Not that we were making fun of those that pull it off. We were making fun of those that overuse “avant-garde” and other such descriptors as if that makes them unique. Especially when it turns out they’re just another run-of-the-mill black metal outfit. Bloodspot would also like you to know that they aren’t afraid to cross genres. That said, they ain’t no atmospheric, avant-garde black metal group. Instead, this German quintet attempts to cross doom with groove and death with thrash. In the end, though, the band’s sound is closest to that of Swede-thrash outfits like At the Gates and The Haunted. But, there’s more to Bloodspot and their new outing, The Cannibal Instinct, than meets the eye. The question is, is it worth exploring?

If I reference groups like Hatesphere and The Haunted, you know Bloodspot probably won’t be dropping anything novel. This was especially true with their 2011 debut, Embrace the End. After switching singers, the band picked up a One Kill Wonder-era bark mixed with growls reminiscent of Moonspell’s Fernando Ribeiro. Yeah, exactly. It’s bizarre as fuck. Beyond the vocals, the band combines bludgeoning Swede-thrash with the slight grooviness of Machine Head. Then tops it all off with passionate melodics and the occasional bass-led swampiness. Some of it works; some of it doesn’t.

What does work are the two lengthier pieces. If for no other reason then for the time the band put into the writing and arrangement. “The Cannibal” being the best song on the album, it alternates between a doomy front-half and an explosive, Machine Head-driven back-end. The chilly bass/drum combo is basically what you expect when any band goes for that “cannibal” or “voodoo” sound. I don’t know what it is, but you can hear it before you even play the song. In the same way as “The Cannibal,” “Ain’t No Gallows High Enough” is also a lengthy track. Slower to get to the point, it throws in a lot more melodics than its compatriot. It also has a doomy, droney mid-section that, while not necessary, shows the band trying to add something new to each song.

On the heavier and more straightforward end of the spectrum, “The Flood” and “I Beg to Differ”1 get the old noggin’ moving. Even if the first of the two sounds like a catchier rendition of a Devildriver song, it’s a non-stop bruiser with some of the nastiest vocals on the record. The second song starts like At the Gates and chugs harder as it goes. By the end, it becomes unhinged in the way only The Haunted can do. Other songs, like opener “The Testament,” “Our Workers Back,” and “Vielfrass,” have their moments. Unfortunately, they aren’t chock-full of good ones that get my head banging like these others.

What doesn’t work are “Death by Dinosaur” and closer “Deadline Story.” I know the band has put a lot into the closer,2 but its merging of melodic thrash and trippy Triptykon-isms is odd. That said, it does have the most diverse vocals on the disc. “Death by Dinosaur,” on the other hand, is a balls-to-the-walls thrasher with the worst vocals and dumbest arrangement of the lot. If you dropped both of these songs, the album would be stronger.

In the end, I’ll remember The Cannibal Instinct for having the shittiest album cover of the year. It’s straight from the ’90s, and that’s where it should have stayed. Though it’s far from perfect, The Cannibal Instinct has some interesting moments. If you’re into the style, that is. The times that work the best are when they don’t stray too far from their wheelbase. Their melodic-thrash moments work well when combining doomier moments, but going to the far extremes feels forced. I’m not sure you can ever really bring anything new with a style like this, but I had fun with half of this album.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Reaper Entertainment Europe
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: March 12th, 2021

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Prong violation! – Steel Detector
  2. Which oddly enough is in my promo but doesn’t show up on the album in Metal Archives.
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