(By Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Lead Journalist/Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
In today’s music journalism realm, the term “supergroup” is as commonly brandied about as any other type of label or tag. It has not always been so either as there was a time when a supergroup was a rarity, something special and outside of the norm. The qualifications to meet this supergroup designation were simple too, be a band comprised of well-known, established musicians…and that was pretty much it.
Although steeped in brutality and extremism, Sweden’s Bloodbath were one of the earliest, truest supergroups deserving of this attachment. Taking their name from the song “Blood Bath” off of Cancer’s 1998 outing To The Gory End, vocalist Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth), drummer Dan Swanö (Edge Of Sanity, Nightingale), guitarist Anders “Blakkheim” Nyström (Katatonia, Diabolical Masquerade) and bassist Jonas Renkse (Katatonia, October Tide) were an official band before the end of 1998.
It takes the group a couple of years to fine tune their ferocious, technically proficient death metal and come 2000, they release the 3-song “Breeding Death” EP via Century Media. Very much exuding a horrifically heavy blend of both Swedish and U.S., more specifically Florida, type of audio extremity, it receives very positive press
It is followed two years later by Bloodbath‘s 2002 full-length debut for Century Media, “Resurrection Through Carnage“. Still as brutal as ever, the band is unleashing ferocious extremity on album but rarely gets to tour due to their involvement within their mostly full-time “day band” acts outside Bloodbath.
When it comes time to record the next Bloodbath release, Àkerfeldt exits the band entirely and Swanö relinquishes drums to play guitar. Vocalist Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy, Pain) and drummer Martin Axenrot (Opeth, Witchery) are brought in and the result is another crushing effort for Century Media, 2004’s “Nightmares Made Flesh“.
Tägtgren’s presence in Bloodbath is short-lived as he exits in 2005 due to “conflicting schedules”. That same year, Åkerfeldt rejoins the band for a single live show at Germany’s Wacken Open Air in August yet prior to the show, the band comments saying: “Not only the first, but also the last gig for Bloodbath (with Mikael Åkerfeldt on vocals)”; later it also turned out to be the last one with Swanö. In September 2005, Bloodbath start searching for a new lead singer.
The Wacken performance is filmed and recorded for posterity’s sake and released as the live CD/DVD The Wacken Carnage by Peaceville Records in 2008. The band’s claims made at WOA were a bit premature as Åkerfeldt ultimately remains on board but they do bring in new member Per Eriksson (ex-21 Lucifers, ex-Genocrush Ferox) on guitar. This is the line up that is behind the two audio releases from this time: both in 2008, like the live DVD, comes the “Unblessing The Purity” EP and “The Fathomless Mastery“, both from Peaceville.
This is the line up in place within Bloodbath as they film and release their second live home video in 2011, “Bloodbath Over Bloodstock“. Once again for Peaceville, the DVD contains their performance at Bloodstock Festival 2010, as well as their 2008 performance at Party San. On November 1, 2011, during the final show of the American Opeth / Katatonia tour at Ram’s Head Live in Baltimore, MD, Bloodbath performs a surprise encore after Opeth’s set
A couple of years of downtime ensue for Bloodbath around this period as the members focus on other projects. In 2012 it is announced that Mikael Åkerfeldt has once again left the band but Blakkheim states in multiple interviews that they have a new vocalist set, but they cannot reveal his identity at the moment due to the lack of a contract. When asked in one interview whether the new vocalist was known or not, Blakkheim said, “Oh, he’s a legend!
He is too, as September 16, 2014, sees his identity revealed when the band announces the new Bloodbath vocalist is none other than Nick Holmes from Paradise Lost. Holmes joins Renske, Blakkhein, Axenrot and Ericksson for the recording and eventual release of 2014’s magnificent Peaceville outing, “Grand Morbid Funeral“.
Bloodbath remain quite active and have a couple of upcoming ventures planned. First, Bloodbath has teamed up with Autopsy for a 2-song split 7″ release, each act contributing one cover song each, and due from Peaceville this month on December 15th in celebration of the label’s 30th anniversary. Pre-orders are available now at this location.
Next, Bloodbath will trek over to North America for a handful of live tour dates and festival appearances in 2018. You can catch this iconic, classic Death Metal, and truly bona fide supergroup, on these dates in North America next year, some of which are festivals:
05/23 Los Angeles, CA – Regent Theater
05/24 Vancouver, BC – Modified Ghost Festival
05/25 Baltimore, MD – Maryland Death Fest 2018
05/26 Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall
05/27 New York, NY – Irving Plaza
05/28 Toronto, ON – Phoenix Concert Theater
05/29 Montreal, QC – Corona Theatre