My experience with death metal "supergroups" this past year has been 50/50: MURDER SQUAD's "Ravenous Murderous" rules, GOD AMONG INSECTS' "World Wide Death" blows. The winning percentage shoots up with BLOODBATH's "Nightmares Made Flesh". But then, did you really expect anything less from Dan Swanö's death metal juggernaut, a band that released the "Breeding Death" EP and "Resurrection through Carnage" to much fanfare?
The lineup has changed; the quality level of the group's classic Swedish death metal sound has not. This time around the vocals are handled by HYPOCRISY's Peter Tägtgren, his growls and screams always convincing and more versatile than Mikael Åkerfeldt (at least in this realm), even though I've got a slight personal preference for the OPETH frontman's style. Swanö has left his kit behind, moving to guitar and making room for new drummer Martin Axenrot (WITCHERY, SATANIC SLAUGHTER).
As for the music, "Nightmares Made Flesh" is of course one for the DISMEMBER and (old) ENTOMBED fans, perhaps the UNLEASHED and GRAVE devotees as well. Like KAAMOS' "Lucifer Rising", it's not that "Nightmares Made Flesh" is cutting edge or even moderately original. It's simply a fine representation of the genre with top-notch songwriting, pitch-black atmosphere, and some absolutely wicked guitar work. The band's higher profile and album's slicker production aside (characteristics that don't sway me one way or the other), I've got to give the nod to "Nightmares Made Flesh" in a neck-and-neck race with "Lucifer Rising" in the songwriting department. The blasting and axe slaughter is above reproach, yet it's the catchy choruses on tracks like album openers "Cancer of the Soul" and "Brave New Hell" (two of the best) that gets me every time. The pace change-ups and arrangement variety (across 12 original tunes, no less) makes the album that much stronger. The sickening slow-to-mid-tempo ooze that is "Eaten" not only serves as the perfect mid-point — providing a break from the breakneck stuff — but I had to chuckle at the lyrics describing one man's life-long desire to be devoured (a real-life case if I remember correctly). Two bonus demo tracks from the "Breeding Death" sessions (featuring Åkerfeldt's lead vocals) are a treat, and the sound quality is strong on both. Nothing here will surprise you. "Nightmares Made Flesh" is just well-written, superbly performed Swedish-style death metal.