In a couple of days I'll depart for my umpteenth trip to Sweden, which is a paradise for metal-heads like myself, despite the cold, snow and darkness that define its winters. This gloominess makes for fertile death metal ground, and the country has produced numerous titans of the genre, such as Opeth, Amon Amarth and Arch Enemy.
Yet, my mainstay is, and has remained so over the last seven or so years, Bloodbath, which is a mix of members from some of Sweden's most heavy-hitting-yet-melodic bands (Opeth, Katatonia).
What always brings me back to this band is The Fathomless Mastery album. These 11 tracks combine brutality, grace, and flawless execution of sometimes complex tempo transitions, which are balanced enough to overcome a fault that plagues much of the genre: one-upmanship, where listeners are so mercilessly bombarded with a wall of sound and vocals that the music comes across as cartoonish (Adult Swim's animated series Metalocalypse, which chronicles the life and times of a fictional death metal super band named Dethklok, is an excellent example of this sometimes hilarious extremity of the genre).
Yet, death metal is by definition extreme--in terms of its morbid subject matter and how it delivers its content. Swedish death metal in particular is known for expressing the genre's extremity melodically, lending wide-ranging tones to its songs. Nowhere is this more apparent than with Opeth. "Movements" are what the band labels its songs, and this is an apt title because the music focuses on building moods, taking its time to illicit diverse moods through varying methods of attack within its songs, which frequently trek into territory well north of seven minutes.
Since Göteborg is the birthplace of the melodic metal scene, maybe I'll take a trip down to see what I can get into. It would be nice to get out of Stockholm and its environs and explore Sweden's second largest city, but I'll only be there a bit more than a few days and would like to spend most of my time catching up with friends.
Until next time.