Heavy metal supergroups are a strange creature. There are the fabled collaborations that never come to fruition, the painfully mediocre and the downright embarrassing, and yet they are still a force that exists in the global metal mindset. How fortunate then, that South Africa has spawned Bloodbeast who escape the trappings of the monicker and put out some damn good death metal. Featuring current and past members from death metal heavyweights Architecture of Aggression and Bile of Man, as well as members of Fuck the Corpses, Bloodbeast is certainly deserving of their supergroup status. Judging by the quality of the bands image, as well as their no-nonsense approach, it is very apparent that these are seasoned individuals who know what they are doing. It is comforting in a scene dominated by substandard pretenders to the death metal throneroom that a newer band can present such a professional package from the outset.
Straight out of the gates, Bloodlust pummels you over the head with “Out for Blood”. Frantic riffs and blastbeats aplenty greet the ears and there is a very apparent groove sensibility to everything. Death metal’s trend to just rush through riffs and passages often leaves the listener bewildered and left behind, but discernable refrains keep ones attention as much as a brand new riff. Fans of Cannibal Corpse will feel right at home with the lyrical content as well as the style of soloing in the tracks, especially on “Merciless” and “Butcher for Pleasure”.
The music draws you in (if the striking cover art by Eko Rana doesn’t already,) and slowly morphs the surroundings into a blood-soaked morgue. Those looking for poetry over the music can head somewhere else because at first glance the lyrics are gore-soaked and bile-hurling. However, reading past the layers of death metal schlock, there is a level of social conscience to Bloodbeast which is normally absent from metal, let alone its more extreme progeny. Songs like “Sadeye SNAFU”, which deals with accidental injuries as a result of wartime and “Fuck or Die”, which is a fittingly brutal allegory for rape show an interest to explore more than just horror movie pulp. The latter of these two songs is actually uncomfortable to listen to because of the bluntness with which it tackles the issue.
On the subject of production, it is good, but not as good as it could be. All of the instruments are audible and clear in the mix but seem to just fall short of being as chunky as the music deserves. The clicky kick drum and tinny guitar tone don’t detract from the experience though and it’s more a personal gripe than anything else. The vocals are surprisingly audible for death metal and despite being further back in the mix than they belong, they are solid and strong. What I’m getting at here is that it is a very “local” sounding record and as happy as I am to see a “Proudly South African” product, I also feel that Bloodlust could have benefitted from an outside ear from across the seas to push it into truly stellar territory!
Despite clocking in at just over thirty minutes, the songs on Bloodlust feel long and expansive. Thanks to their “pop-sensibility” of bringing riffs back and writing good hooks, the music is compelling and warrants multiple listens. My impression of Bloodbeast is that they are a powder keg of talent and an influence that are definitely at the front of South Africa’s death metal charge!
Stream “Fuck or Die” off Bloodlust below: