Talking about Bloodbath is talking about insurance within a style that over the years has triumphed as reliable. Although a thousand subgenres pass by and there are groups that enjoy immense success, the original, brutal and excessive death metal will always be the starting point to which we have to look in search of the purpose of any brutality.
We talked about it with Thomas Akvikto which the composition process has brought back that first wave of Florida that is so easy to ignore in an era in which the guttural seems to be forcibly attached to the melody.
‘Sickest Of The Sick’ has just come out. What have been the reactions of the fans?
Well, the truth is that I am delighted because they have been very positive. At least I haven’t read any comments out there saying it sucks, and people use the internet to vent their rage as fast as they can. The album is nothing but raw, in-your-face death metal. It’s not pretentious and I’m not going to bore anyone by saying that it’s the best album we’ve ever put out and all those things that are usually said. I think it will like the usual, it will also scare the usual and will leave a good memory in the global history of bloodbath as a band
These years of pandemic have been complicated. Have the quarantines affected the creative process of the album
Precisely what the pandemic has affected the least has been the creative process, but it has destroyed everything else. We couldn’t get together and rehearse a little to see what came out, nor could we plan a tour with guarantees or anything like that. Fortunately, technology has advanced a lot and we all had a studio at home, so it was as simple as playing separately and putting together the ideas we had in common.
I had never had to work like this but, the truth is, it is a rhythm to which I have adapted very well because I have always been very homely. We have been lucky that we have gotten along very well, that everything has gone ahead very smoothly and that Sweden has not really had the brutal quarantines that the rest of the countries of Europe have experienced; so if I’m honest, I wouldn’t mind continuing to work like this in the future.
You have had many guest vocalists Barney Greenway (Napalm Death), Luc Lemay (Gorguts), Marc Grewe (Morgoth)… How has been the experience of working with them?
It has been amazing. They are extremely talented musicians who have given a level of depth that I would never have predicted for some of the songs. One good thing about Bloodbath is that everyone in the extreme metal sphere seems eager to collaborate with us, even great legends who might seem like they have better things to do.
I know you haven’t asked me, but I need to say it: the collaboration I’ve been most excited about is Barney’s. Being able to hear his voice on one of our songs was incredible, I had an absolute fanboy moment! (Laughter). They are one of those little things that you never forget and that make this job feel so special.
Is writing for Bloodbath intimidating? It is a name that carries a lot of cache.
Intimidate is not the word I would use. Yes, there is a lot of respect, but in many ways I think it is as if you were selected to represent your country in the World Cup. Of course it’s an honor, but you can’t help but make sure that if you’re there it’s for something, so the key is to have self-confidence and carry out what has been my job for many years now. One good thing about what we do is that you can just be raw, want to have a great time and great albums just happen. In the end Bloodbath is about that, about having a good time in the most brutal and excessive way possible.
Death metal has always been a pretty unique genre. On the one hand, he has always wanted to innovate the bases, but on the other hand, many of his fans appreciate knowing what they can expect. On which side of the spectrum would you place Bloodbath?
Hmm, that’s a tricky question. I’m not going to deny that death metal at the time was something very groundbreaking. In many ways it was a way of saying: how far can we take metal when it comes to brutality? These pioneers were indeed committed to experimentation, but I don’t think that’s the basis on which I like to build music.
To tell you the truth, I know perfectly well that ‘Sickest Of The Sick’ isn’t going to change the world of music, but we didn’t expect anything else. I think the best way to explain it would be to say, “Hey, it’s just death metal, but we love it!” That is where I suppose the aspect of trust that you have also mentioned comes into play. You know if you put on a death metal record, especially an old school one, you’re going to get some skull-crushing songs, nothing more. In a certain sense, it is what I wanted to do again with this work and it seems that we have achieved it.
What distinguished Swedish death metal from the American scene?
The melody and the commercial success, of course. The American bands started it all and in many ways established what would become the rules of the game such as the general joke that surrounds the songs despite their brutality. Many bands in Sweden managed to turn the screw and create a sound and today we live something that was unthinkable in the past, and that is that melodic death metal bands can attract tens of thousands of people.
In that sense, Bloodbath wanted to be the rough kids in the yard. While working on ‘Sickest Of The Sick’ I’ve been listening to Morbid Angel a lot, who in their role as pioneers did a lot of things right. You may listen to it now, in the middle of 2022, and think that it is a formula that has been trite to infinity, but if it makes you shake your head and make you want to blow up a tank with a header; Has it really ceased to be relevant?
Can we expect a tour to be announced in the next few months?
It is a complicated matter and for which several very busy agendas must be aligned. Right now I can’t confirm anything, but soon I hope to be in a position.
The supergroup concept has always seemed very intriguing to me, like saying: hey, we’re the “Avengers” of Swedish death metal. As someone who has seen the band from the outside, how do you feel about this concept?
The “Avengers” of metal, I love it! (Laughter). Of course, seen like this, the power that Bloodbath has is undeniable. If you stop to watch the musicians who have passed by, it’s like going to play FC Barcelona and being asked to wear Messi’s shirt, but that’s not something I’ve let affect me at work. Yes, it is a group that has been very omnipresent in the scene and has been especially relevant in spawning bands that, over time, ended up being more commercially relevant.
Even so, it has always been a group for which everyone has felt absolute respect, almost total reverence. I think that musicians from more than notable projects and undeniable success have had little to do with it because it is something more similar to a band with which we can all agree.
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Interview | Bloodbath: the “Avengers” of Swedish death metal | Metal Circus
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