The Rickety Old Shack

Bloodbath — Breeding Death EP

album cover

The term 'supergroup' has been a hit-or-miss descriptor for bands over the years. Either the assembled cast is a little too obscure to warrant the moniker, or the output fails to live up to the resumés of its members — supergroups tend to be better in theory than practice. In the case of Bloodbath one could make the obscurity argument, but only if your definition is exclusive to mainstream musicians, as the original line-up included members of Opeth, Katatonia, and Edge of Sanity — all highly respected names in the extreme music world. In the context of Swedish metal, there is no argument that this EP features an all-star line-up of musicians.

At the time of its release, I didn't even like death metal. I had tried to get into the genre, but bands like Morbid Angel and Six Feet Under failed to capture my attention; it was all just gurgling, guitars that sounded closer to chainsaws than musical instruments and a deluge of clicky drums. I had no formal introduction to the genre, and found it completely impenetrable. Eventually, as my tastes and overall understanding of music expanded, I revisited the genre periodically and things finally clicked after reading some reviews on a long-defunct web-zine site. In the year 2000, I ended up buying 2 death metal albums based solely on the words of some Internet stranger and exceedingly brief, low-grade MP3 samples. Those albums were: The Project Hate MCMXCIX's debut album, CyberSonic SuperChrist, and this very EP.

Both purchases ended up being pivotal moments in my music fandom. Bloodbath managed to perfectly elucidate the merits of death metal on Breeding Death, serving up a concise collection of the foundational aspects of the genre. I went into this EP with the notion that if I couldn't glean anything from purportedly elite metal musicians performing death metal then I was probably never going to 'get it.' I was able to tolerate the impenetrable aspects of the genre if they were sufficiently diluted with other influences and styles, but straight-up death metal was still an enigma yet to be cracked. Conceptually, the music ticked all the right boxes — what isn't there to like about a song named "Ominous Bloodvomit?" — I was just waiting for everything to click in my head.

Suffice it to say, it took only a few listenings of Breeding Death to open my eyes to what I had been missing. The ability to parse growled vocals is an acquired skill, but it helps to have (relatively) clear enunciation from the vocalist and quality production to ensure everything is audible. That Bloodbath was an homage to old-school death metal likely helped, as the material on this EP is fairly mid-tempo — briskly paced but far from the 1000mph tempo modern incarnations of the genre tend towards. From the opening notes of the title track to the fading outro of "Furnace Funeral," this project rips along, throwing classic riffs and dirty grooves at the listener without cease. I was hooked; clocking in at 13 minutes, Breeding Death wet my appetite for the extreme.

Nearly 2 decades later, I still give Breeding Death a listen several times per year. My love of extreme music is not solely due to Bloodbath, but this EP did have a profound effect on me when I was 16. The buzzing tremolo riffs, the grimey rhythms and roaring vocals were just the right thing at just the right time; I had no idea what constituted 'classic' death metal, but I loved these songs all the same. As an homage to a genre, Bloodbath managed to appeal to existing fans and convert outsiders through the quality of their product. Dan Swanö's production sends it all over the top, giving us quality recordings without the digital sterility that was becoming more and more common by the turn of the millennium, or the muddy mixes of years prior — the result of producers with no clue how to record such sonically different, unconventional material.

Summary

Still one of my favourite death metal releases, Breeding Death is both a quality release and a bit of a historical document. At the time of its recording, the musicians contributing to this EP were already established masters of their craft, and they've all gone on to reach even greater heights since. This EP is 3 quality tracks of classic 90s death metal with a 21st century production aesthetic. To this day, I still reference this release when discussing the subject of introducing listeners to the death metal genre. Bloodbath hit all the marks here, with 3 tracks that stand completely on their own — as they did when I had no working knowledge of the genre to appreciate what would constitute a 'classic' song — and also give proper respect to the genre's for those knowledgeable enough to appreciate such efforts.

Album Information

Release date: February 8th, 2000
Record label: Century Media Records

Mikael Åkerfeldt — vocals
Anders "Blakkheim" Nyström — guitar
Jonas Renske — bass, backing vocals
Dan Swanö — drums, backing vocals

Track Listing

  1. Breeding Death
  2. Ominous Bloodvomit
  3. Furnace Funeral

—by Derek

Published: May 7th, 2018.