– Hello and first of all, thanks for taking the time. What are you currently up to? What’s going on with BLOODBATH right now?
Well, ideally I’d just love to sit back enjoying the fact that our 4th album’s done, handed over and to count down the days for the release on November 17th, but reality is we’re real busy promoting the album by talking to the press all day long, which isn’t a bad thing either, so how are you doing Tania?
– You will soon release «Grand Morbid Funeral» so, how are you feeling about it?
Actually, I’m very excited about it! It’s a fierce return to the formative years of death metal where things where rotten, raw and morbid. This is undoubtedly made it altogether our darkest album. I can finally experience a certain magic running through this album and that was something we always strived to capture. That ”magic” is really hard to explain and put your finger on, but lets say that we found it more important to create something magic to us than to make something that would sacrifice that magic in favor of all things measured ”perfect” by todays values in terms of performance and sound.
– I think the album’s title speaks for itself but, how did you come up with it? Where you looking for something that could portrait the music on the album?
Yes, the title was put together to both represent the stylistic change as well as ”reserving the right” to make this our final album. Right now we feel we have come full circle with everything we wanted to do, so our tribute work is done as far as we are concerned. All aspects of death metal that we loved while growing up has been explored and manifested in our discography.
– On the other hand, the cover artwork is really unique (as most of your covers) and isn’t what someone could expect from your standard «old school» Death Metal band, still being putrid. If I’m not mistaken it was crafted by Néstor Avalos but, would you mind to tell us what was originally your idea and how did you work on it?
Yeah I’d these visions appearing in my mind of something very medieval in its nature… i wanted to take a dive into gruesome times from the middle ages and emphasize the miserable plague, the black death, but also mix in some aestehtic vibes from the victorian age. The cover artwork sees death manifested in a stillborn child, grieved by its mother and preparing for the grand morbid funeral. The back cover sees a ”human ratking” where dead people knot their limbs and guts together by blood and dirt. An omen for the plague. The outcome is just morbid! Looking at the album artwork you can feel the songs are gonna portray the feelings invoked in you. Nestor was the right person for the job as he perfectly understands and worships the dark side of art and invests a lot of his time and mind into it.
– The most notable change on the album is the new singer, Nick Holmes. Why did you think of him as the new singer for BLOODBATH? He hasn’t done this kind of vocals for a while, anyway it really seems he still gets it.
Already 6 years ago, right after the release of ’The Fathomless Mastery’ we already knew back then that the next album wasn’t going to merit logical expectations and be a natural follow-up. We were really happy with the album (still are!) but felt Bloodbath was 100% done with that style, so we discussed how we wanted to step away from overdoing things, stop editing things, stop using triggers, get rid of the modern approach in riffs and beats and put the american techy influences to a minimum. When we had our vision clear to us we took a 180 degree turn back into the first days of death metal but to explore fully this time, way more so than in the past and thus we knew we needed a different vocal approach. At the same time Mike wasn’t excited about playing death metal anymore so he bailed and we announced his departure. We then started looking around for a replacement and came up with a couple of names, based on their style and history of extreme metal. We discussed and even negotiated with a couple of candidates, but most of them fell off the wagon for various reasons, everyone except one, Nick! And the rest is now history…
– And what do you think has he brought to the band?
He marked and sealed the album with his own unique voice and character and pulled off exactly what we were looking for. He’s Old Nick for fucks sake!!! 🙂
– You’ve also had some guest artists, Chris Reifert and Eric Cutler from AUTOPSY. How did everything arise and what have they brought with their cooperation? Considering your sound I can guess they’ve bee an influence for BLOODBATH?
Yes, we figured that if this was ultimately gonna be our one and only chance of really diving all the way down to the bottom dungeon of death metal where the rotten and raw style foever dwells, why not ask the genres own masters themselves if they wanna appear on the album as guest. It was an honor for us to hear that both Chris and Eric loved Bloodbath and were happy to contribute. Eric put down 4 solos on different songs and Chris is the madman ending the whole album on the title track by covering the mic with vomit!
– Once more the album was recorded at Ghost Ward Studios, but I personally think this time you got an even more organic and thick sound. How was the whole production process? Did you get the sound you were looking for?
Definitely! The way we wanted to do it this time was keeping things very simple. To knock out the songs in the most direct way possible in order to retain the live/jam feeling. In the past we always kept things tidy and deleted hi-hat counts and stuff like that, but on this one we kept all that and even some natural lose ends in there. It was a pleasure allowing a drum kit finally to sound like a drum kit naturally sounds like, letting it ring out and bleed into different mics and deliberately avoiding the use of triggers or sound replacements. Guitars and bass were part of the biggest Boss HM-2 pedal fest we ever had so far, we didn’t hold back on the grit thats for sure. Even tho vocals we deliberately made sounding ”necro” to get closer to a ”low fi” feel. We wanted the album to sound somewhere in between a rehearsal and a studio recording, an awesome sounding demo reeking of old school magic and death metal passion maybe would be the category…
– And I also think you focus a lot on heaviness instead of speed, and specially on guitars, with really interesting solos. I have always thought Death Metal it’s about atmosphere and heaviness and not about relentless speed but, what’s your vision on Death Metal? How do you feel about the balance obtained here between heaviness, speed and melody?
I think a lot of bands have proven it’s possible to reach out into any or all of those branches and still represent death metal. It just depends what you’re after and where your heart is at. I enjoy Morbid Angel just as much as I enjoy Entombed and they’re so different. There can be both equal dozes of speed and heaviness in my opinion, but when it comes to the melodic aspect, i prefer my death metal eerie and/or sorrowful, when melodies become too ”harmonic” and cheesy you’re killing the darkness in death metal. I think Bloodbath blends the above very delicately, but contemporary ”core” metal fans and purists of melodeath are not gonna enjoy this new album, that’s for sure, but maybe their dads will? Ha-ha!
– In fact diversity is a trademark of the album, creating good contrasts. How important is to have some dynamic? Not only to keep things interesting for your listeners, but also for yourselves, both as songwriters and musicians.
Yeah this is really important for us. We’ve had this recipe from the start that we always split the songwriting process equally between us and we write and finish the songs individually and independently from each other. This way we’ll get songs that are sounding very different from each other because we all have different preferences and tastes even within death metal, but once in the studio all the songs kinda gets glued together and really unite and feel part of the one and same album because of the performance and production is a joint effort by everyone. That’s essentially the insight into the machinery behind Bloodbath.
– It’s even more old school sounding than «The Fathomless Mastery». Were there any older albums you looked back to while working on «Grand Morbid Funeral»?
Some of my references for this album were Bathory, Slayer and Celtic Frost and thats stuff that even goes back earlier than the essential death metal influences we have, so it can’t really go back more old school than right now. Two influences we will always carry in this band is Entombed and Morbid Angel and I think with both band’s own unique sound and style of death metal is what you’ll find twisted, chopped and poured out in Bloodbath.
– All this about «Grand Morbid Funeral» being said; how could you describe it in just 3 words (apart from the three words on the album’s title)?
Evil, dark and rotten!
– A lot of people (specially bands) complain about namedropping when it comes to bands like yours, but I have always thought it can sometimes be a double-edged sword; on one hand it’s a good way to make people hear your music as they already know who you are, but on the other music should be important for what it is and not because of who plays it, and some people will maybe be too demanding because of your background. I know you just do what you feel like doing and what you love, but what are your thoughts on this «namedropping effect»? Is it something positive or rather the opposite?
Yeah well from our standpoint, we mess around with Bloodbath purely because it’s fun, nothing more to it. If labels focus more on the names involved
because they realize they might sell a few more copies compared to another band (that might even be musically way superior to us), then fine, that’s their policy as a commercial industry, but we always treat it as an event of close friends having been in the business for 25 years to celebrate the things we still love.
– This kind of things seem to have a bigger impact in the recent years, with Internet and all these tools. Tools that make access to music easier, in fact a lot of Swedish Death Metal bands from the 90’s are reuniting now, and there’s a bigger interest for what it was done back in the day, which has also given birth to «old school sounding» young bands. Do you keep track on what’s going on musically in your country? What’s its current state like from the inside?
I guess many of the legendary bands that broke up went through all these financial problems and couldn’t get on with the demands of their record companies or were fighting themselves and their egos and so on, but now when they’re older, all supposedly got stable jobs and live a different life, their situation is more independent . There’s no room for egos anymore, no possibility to quit your job and start all over with the band again at age 40-50, so the good times can still be had while keeping things on a modest level and I’m all for that. Bands who split up only to be able to make a comeback five years later for the $$$, well I guess we’ve seen that too, but if the intentions are pure and talent is (still) there, I’m all for a comeback! As for the new wave of young bands that like to contribute to the scene and make themselves a name in metal history, same for them, do your home-work and prove yourselves and let the music do the talking, but if you fail to fulfill that, and only want to be part of something you’re not entitled to, please do everyone else a favor and stop diluting and saturating the scene with releases that were never meant to happen yet (at least not beyond a demo).
– You are a band that doesn’t tour, but you play single shows and specially focus on festivals, will this change with the release of this new album or your commitments with your other bands make touring plans almost impossible?
We’ll most likely remain a festival band, only showing up occasionally here and there. I think there’ll be about a dozen festivals in 2015 so that’s gonna be a new record for us, but the problem that has been haunting us since day one still lingers; everyone’s schedules are so busy and booked up for a long time and even when we find a gap it’s hard to synchronize it amongst us, so doing an album or a gig first when the opportunity has been locked in has made it more special, kept the passion and stacked up on lust and craving waiting to be unleashed.
– And finally, what are now your near-future plans?
Wait for 2015 to come and start the festivals, but the highlight before that will be the day when I will receive the vinyl myself. I can’t wait to unwrap the cellophane, smell the cardboard, put it on my turntable, crank it real loud, pour me a beer while digging into the lyrics as we go from song to song. I always loved examining every detail of the artwork holding the physical product with my hands right in front of me. It’ll be 1989 all over again!
– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
I think there’ll be one festival happening in Spain, so keep your eyes open for the announcement and we’ll see you there! Cheers!