Swedish death metal supergroup Bloodbath have returned with a four song EP, and it should surprise exactly no one to learn that Opeth vocalist Mikael Akerfedlt, returning to the band after his absence from 2004’s Nightmares Made Flesh, makes a fitting replacement for his own, um, replacement, Hypocrisy’s Peter Tagtgren.

But I have to wonder how much input Akerfeldt had as a songwriter this time out; there really isn’t a lot of ingenuity here, and the presence of former guitarist/drummer Dan Swano, who was generally acknowledged as the driving creative force behind Bloodbath, is sorely missed.

That’s not to say that the tracks on Unblessing the Purity are bad; that’s not true by any stretch of the imagination. They’re just unspectacular: the sense of groove that Swano brought to the proceedings is sorely missing here. (Think of the lumbering yet limber riffs of fan favorite “Eaten” or “Cancer of the Soul” and you’ll know what I’m talking about.) The band has replaced said sense of groove with speed and brutality, and while there’s not a damn thing wrong with that per se – this is Swedish death metal, after all – it ultimately never seems as, well, special as what Swano was able to achieve on Nightmares.

So, yeah, it’s good to have Akerfeldt back. But not so good that I don’t miss Swano.

(three and a half out of five horns)


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