In times when Dutch death metallers Bodyfarm should be happy with excitement about the forthcoming release of their best album yet, the mood is exactly the opposite. Founding member Thomas Wouters (vocals and guitars) lost his battle with cancer on August 6th this year, not long after he recorded his, it turns out, magnum opus.
I can’t foresee if Bodyfarm will be able to recover from such a loss, but at least Dreadlord, which comes out at the end of September, sounds like their mission is already accomplished, even at such a high cost. The fourth full length album of these Swedish-sounding Dutchmen is once again a gruesome display of everything we love about the old school Swedish death metal school. It is not easy to sound unique in such a well-developed and exploited genre and, in fact, Bodyfarm, don’t have such a purpose. We Sailed To Death is a salute to Amon Amarth at their best, there are once again strong Vomitory and Vader vibes (especially in the faster, blastbeat sections), but there is also the feeling of epicness and desperation reminiscent of Bolt Thrower and Hail Of Bullets. The title track and Unholy Resurrection are capable of driving every living soul into a headbanging frenzy and I can only imagine what a massacre of sound those would be on stage, if Thomas were still among us. Mentioning him, the vocals are full of power and menace – really deep and expressive and without a doubt, his best ever performance.
The fantastic cover artwork by legendary Dan Seagrave is also an epitome of the perfect death metal package. We have it all here – encased in 11 song and 40 minutes, with not a single spare note. Another legendary name involved is Dan Swanö, who has left his touch in mixing and mastering the album.
This year has been good for death metal, with really solid albums by Vltimas, Entombed A.D. and Firespawn, but Dreadlord will put a big smile on every face into extreme metal. It will forever be marked by the tragic loss of one of its creators, but it still sounds like a victory to me. A victory of will and strong spirit.