Next 17th November Bloodbath, the band formed by members from Katatonia, Opeth and Paradise Lost, will release his new album. That was the reason why our editor Xell has called Blakkheim, band’s guitar player, to chat about this upcoming release.
- First of all, thank you so much for taking your time to answer me. The album hasn’t been released yet, but there is already a few reviews and two songs on streaming. How is the fan reaction going so far?
Blakkheim: It's kind of a mixed bag! We have the enthusiastic people, who are instantly embracing the album just because Bloodbath is back. We also see the older generation getting triggered because they were part back then and remember the past. But then we got the conservative "fanboys" who just want it to sound a certain, very specific way and if it doesn't, everything alltogether sucks ha-ha! More or less lumped together with them, at least in terms of negativity, is the new generation of stubborn kids with limited or no connection to the old school scene what so ever. They just tend to follow the stream of what everyone else says (depending on whats in majority). It's clearly a fact some can't settle with the choices we've made for this album. However, it's a very predictable situation that we've experienced many times before and it's all about allowing time to pass. What I mean is, let’s give this album a couple of years and it'll eventually even end up as a Bloodbath "classic", because at that point, all the focus of negativity will have been lifted and moved on to infest the next release, to repeat the pattern. This is how it works with the morally declined "internet generation". They just can't be pleased no matter what! Truth to be told, they're a fucking spoiled bunch with a fast food mentality that likes to chew and spit things out at the same time. It's depressive that so little people take the time to fully respect a release and digest it slowly with potential to cherish it for a lifetime. Same with the respect for artists really, the attitude has changed so much with the possibility of being an obnoxious retard hiding behind a screen. It's too easy for the trolls to troll. Rant over ha-ha!
- Since you and Renkse are huge fans of Paradise Lost, it’s kinda obvious why you have chosen Nick as the new Bloodbath singer. Was he always the first choice? Who else were you thinking about?
No, there were others involved early on as well, but based on the criterias we had we ended up valuing Old Nick to be our first choice. We've known him for many years now as Katatonia and Paradise lost have been out touring together for several occasions in the past and I think we first brought up the idea with Mr Holmes about 3 years ago somewhere during an American tour. What happened is that we just kept talking about it, on and off, up until now when things finally set in stone and everyone agreed to walk the talk!
- I’ve read a lot of complaints about Nick voice on the internet. To be honest, I was a little bit skeptical myself about Nick Holmes growling again, but after listened to the whole album a few times, I think it’s a great comeback. What would you say to the people who are not buying Nick as the new singer?
Well, it's not really that complicated if you ask me! If you dive onto this album with a prefabricated idea of how it should sound you're gonna fool yourself. If you expect or demand the new album should have a certain sound and a singer with a certain style tailor-made to your ideals, well sorry, that's not not gonna happen! So either try appreciate our vision behind the album and maybe it'll grow to be something you also enjoy but if not, no problem, just leave it be and life goes on...
- I have to ask, is working with Nick a dream of your teen days come true? Has he participated on the composition or he has just recorded the vocals?
I can't deny it's indeed an old dream coming true. Actually, it's not even something we ever expected to happen. If you told me back in 1991 that one day I was gonna have my own band with the guy who sang on 'Gothic' my pants would be a mess ha-ha! Anyways, the album was more or less written before we got Nick involved, but he wrote the lyrics for two of my songs, 'Unite In Pain' and 'Beyond Cremation'.
- Speaking of composition, how do you write the lyrics? I know that Renkse is the main lyricist for Katatonia, but what about Bloodbath?
Actually, the only time we ever wrote together as a band was when we recorded 'Breeding Death', our first ep back in the winter of 1998/99. All those songs were born on the spot straight out of a drunken jam with the actual recording integrated at the same time. Ever since then, we've been composing individually, at different locations, and always split the amount of songs equally between us. The process of demo making is something like each member completes everything the song needs, like the guitars, bass, drums, lyrics and vocals. When the demos are ready we present them to each other, exchange inputs and notes and with the bag filled with blood, guts and gore Bloodbath is ready to enter the studio and commence the real deal.
- I think this album is even more american death metal oriented than the previous ones. Specially on the vein of Autopsy, which is a great thing. I know that Chris and Eric collaborated on the album. What did they exactly did?
Well that totally depends on what you mean by "american". When we talk about it we mostly refer to the more technical, super fast and maxed out brutal stuff and there's less of that now on this album. There'll always be a big Morbid Angel influence present, but other American stuff like Autopsy, Slayer and early Death, representing a more traditional aspect has influenced on this album more than ever.
(NDR: Yep, I was referring to something more related to Autopsy rather than something “brutal”)
- The cover of the album is quite morbid (yep, pun intended) and it was made by Néstor Avalos, who is a great artist IMO. How did you discovered the artist and why did you decide to order him the new artwork?
He wrote us a couple of times in the past offering his services and we felt his style was darker than everyone else. It was a perfect fit for this album. He understood how the dark and medieval times were visually essential this album.
- Speaking of the concept of the album, it's obviously about death. On the front cover we can see a woman (¿a nun?) grieving over someone, but I'm more amazed about the back cover. How did you came up with the idea of a “human ratking”?
I stumbled upon the ratking phenomena by reading about it somewhere and was very intrigued and disgusted by the look and concept of it, so then the thoughts of replacing the rats for humans came pretty natural to me. The whole atmosphere and vibe of the album has a lot to do with "plague", so it fitted like a glove.
- Beside of doing a lot of festivals next year (fingers crossed for Spain), what's on the future for Bloodbath?
I guess we'll just enjoy the current procession until this grand funeral is declared to be over... We can't see further than that anyway. The future is all hidden in the funeral fog.
- Talking about death metal in general, I think it’s a genre that has been exploited to his limit. What is your opinion about the style and the scene nowadays? Do you have any favorite new metal bands?
New metal bands? Sorry what was that? Ha-ha, well seriously, I don't really have any favorite new metal bands, I know there are tons of them out there in this oversaturated scene and I can even appreciate and respect them as musicians and performers being good at what they do, but the problem is that the "magic" isn't there anymore. Todays scene is more about software, gear and youtube. People rather talk about Pro Tools plugins than talk about cemetaries and graveyards if you know what i mean? For me that long gone "magic" is 50% of the whole experience with death metal. Luckily, it still exists with all the classic albums released back in the day and they're just within an arms reach to enjoy at any time.
- Century Media has just released your previous albums on vinyl. I think that vinyl has made a strong comeback into the market and now more people are interested in buying the albums on vinyl. What do you think about tapes and the bands that are still releasing their albums on the old format?
Well, I grew up on only cassettes and vinyl as the shops first introduced the cd around 1990. These times played a huge role in my life, who I came to be and will never be forgotten about. Old school death metal on vinyl is a match made in hell! Cassettes were the only way you could take your vinyls "out for a walk" with a couple of phones and a walkman, but the cassettes could only fill 45 minutes on each side, so it was crucial for an album to be under that when you made your own split tapes. I’m very happy to see that vinyls seem to have a comeback and isn't a dead format. Next to the cd it's a great physical alternative to a download. There's nothing magic or spiritual about a download, no matter how convinient or slick it is.
- That's all. Thank you so much for answer and the last words are yours.
Cheers for the support. Are you morbid? Then we invite you to our grand funeral. In HM-2 we trust! Amen!
Interview by Xell