Since its debut, Breeding Death EP (2000), Sweden’s Bloodbath has held its throne as the most dependable supergroup in metal. For the most part, the mail-order only Unblessing the Purity EP carries on Bloodbath’s tradition of quality despite the band’s other tradition of lineup restructuring: This time around, Opeth growler Mikael Akerfeldt joins the band again after a four-year absence, Jonas Renkse (Katatonia) switches to bass, and new guitarist Per Eriksson joins returning axman Anders Nystrom (Katatonia) and Opeth drummer Martin Axenrot.
Clearly all five of these dudes take great joy in unleashing the death-metal ferocity lacking in their more subdued main gigs. Axenrot is especially impressive, ripping through blastbeat torrents and creative fills on “Blasting the Virginborn” and “Sick Salvation.”
But although the riff construction and playing on Unblessing the Purity are unimpeachable, these four songs are merely solid. As the band modernizes its sound with ambient breaks and flanging effects, the focus shifts away from the blunt trauma hooks of their three previous releases. Bloodbath still beat out Down and Borknagar for consistency, but let’s hope they’re just saving up their A material for the next full-length.