Ahead of the release of their album Grand Morbid Funeral (our review of which can be read here), we caught up with Anders of Bloodbath for a chat. See what happened below.
Could you introduce yourself and tell me a little bit about the band?
My name is Anders ‘Blakkheim’ Nyström and I’m the guitar player and co-founder of this project. Yes I choose to call it a project, because we’re all occupied already in a couple of other bands that we consider our main duties. Bloodbath is something that we pursue when a gap appears in our collective schedules and that’s not a common thing to happen, as 6 years have now passed since the last album came out.
You’re currently getting ready to release your brand new album Grand Morbid Funeral – could you tell me a bit about the writing and recording process?
Not really surprisingly different as any of the times before. We first just discuss the nature of the album in terms of vibe and attitude, once we have the guidelines and references down for that we just take off on our own. The thing is, we have this well proven formula where we split the song writing between the three of us and off we go write and record demos individually. On this album I did 4 songs, Jonas did 4 and Sodo did 3 and voila there you have 11 songs that collective becomes the pillars of a Bloodbath record. This way the material becomes pretty diverse and varied without leaving the “death metal domain” we agreed to stick to earlier in discussions.
All 3 of us, write differently, so Bloodbath benefits from this greatly and this is why it theoretically takes a very short amount of time to write the album, but to record it is the complete opposite. On this one we entered Ghostward studio with David Castillo in March and tracked all the drums, then kept things brewing in the cold until we got the chance to do the rest in August and finish off the album in September, so it’s been a long time coming and we’re happy we finally reached this point.
Naturally the album sounds a little different to past releases due to the addition of your new vocalist Nick Holmes, and I really like the way he approached the tracks on Grand Morbid Funeral. What made you choose him over other vocalists?
Well, lets say that Mike’s decision to leave Bloodbath was not a decision made overnight, short story being he just drifted away from death metal as his focus is obviously wandering towards his musical horizons in Opeth. But it’s not like he didn’t enjoy himself in Bloodbath, he sure did, but it was never an important priority to do a death metal project if you know what I mean? There was very little for Mike to achieve going back and celebrating regression, it was more about having a good time together, revelling in nostalgia once in a while.
So the years went by and when it finally seemed like it would open up for the making of a new Bloodbath album, we had to come to a conclusion. We found Nick to fit right in, as we got along really well and that’s why it was a no brainer to put him on the vocalist throne and throw him the Bloodbath crown. His qualities for the rest of the criterias were already spot on, a singer from a legendary metal band with a long history and old school roots. We absolutely love the result on the album, our visions were fullfilled. Sure it’s not the same result as you’d expect from the previous singers, but that’s just it, we never expected it and we never intended to “clone” them. I think with both Mike and Peter it allowed us to do a little bit of everything, except the really, really old stuff that we’ve now done with Nick. They are all 3 amazing vocalists in their own right and we (ab)used the hell outta them all for different styles and times on our previous albums.
Characteristically, Mike maintains the deepest guttural voice, while Peter can go both low and very high covering a wider range. Nick just sounds morbid, rotten, evil and brings back the magic of the 1987-1990 origin right back into Bloodbath and thats what matters to us right now. Even the layout follows the same pattern, you know what the album’s gonna sound like by just looking at it! This is the most morbid and dark Bloodbath we’ve ever done!
Which song on the album are you most proud of?
As a whole, it’s more of the album as an entity, rather then songs. I put a lot of time creating the track listing for this record, I wanted the flow and the variety between the nature of the songs to come naturally, but personally, I’m probably a little bit extra proud of the last song, the title track. It’s has one of the heaviest riffs I’ve written and foremost it features an absolute skull crushing performance by Christ Reifert from Autopsy on guest vocals at the end which was a big honor for me. It’s like being in the eye of the storm for a few seconds until you’re ripped apart. Absolute madness!!!
Were there any that were more of a challenge to get right?
No, with Bloodbath it’s usually never a problem and if there are any it’s just fun to crack them. Without sounding too arrogant, to us death metal just comes without thinking. It’s like breathing, you don’t think about every breath you take, altho it’s right there with you all the time and you just let it out and have fun with it. It’s a lot of work and effort, but it’s not difficult, it’s just fun from the first note to the last. Also, with Axe behind the kit, we have the luxury of playing with a very talented drummer, so as long as he can nail the beats we’ve written, it’s all a childs play for the rest of us us from there! Cocky? So be it!
One of my personal favourites is Unite In Pain, I love the energy and momentum especially. Could you tell me a little more about that song?
I think that’s a song that has a little bit of everything in it. Some cool Bathory meets Slayer and picking up Death and Entombed along the way. It’s really simple, but groovy with a dark twist. This was one of my songs that I wanted to involved Nick in, so I had him write the lyrics and he came up with this cool oncept of Nick had a cool lyric idea about the human need to wish for a peaceful death without suffering, so he reversed that where only a painful end would suffice. I think this was a good song to premiere off the album first, not too drastic in any direction, just a cool song.
How are the live shows going to change with a new vocalist?
The only difference is that it’ll just be Old Nick is mantling these with us now and at the moment we’re looking at like a dozen of festivals for 2015 that will take place in as many different countries as possible. So keep your eyes open for all of these to get announced to find out if the blood will stain your country!
Do you have any pre-show traditions?
Not anything spectacular really. It’s pretty causal. I warm up with by changing clothes into your “stage outfit” an hour before the show, pour myself a drink and put on a playlist of good songs backstage to build the atmosphere and enter the zone.
Do you have any interesting stories from shows gone by?
With Bloodbath there’s been so few shows so far… I don’t think we’ve played more than a dozen ever… so no scandals or over the top adventures to share yet, so you have to check back in a year!
If you could perform on a bill with any band, who would you choose?
With Bloodbath we could theoretically play with any extreme metal band and make a good match, so the list would be long. But Autopsy would be cool especially since two of the guys are guests on this album.
And if Bloodbath could put their name to a product, what would it be?
I guess we kinda just did that actually – shower gel! it was supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek kinda gimmick, but it rubbed off (doh!) wrong on people! Let the blood run red!