Released: 2016, Self-released
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Nemesis is the full-length debut from Germany's Bloodred, essentially a one-man studio “band” in vocalist/guitarist/bassist Ron Merz who gets a high-profile hand for this self-released effort – just as he did for the 2014 EP The Lost Ones.
Once again, Atrocity/Leaves Eyes drummer Joris Nijenhuis supplies the battery here and frontman Alex Krull serves as producer – and both do suitably stellar work. And once again, Merz serves up some gritty black/death metal, though with a few twists that make for a nicely varied and unpredictable end result.
Indeed, Merz rarely sticks to a single script here, opening the album with the Viking/folk metal-tinged instrumental “Fell Voices On The Wind” then charging headlong into the death metal stampede of “Tragedien I Svenskehuset” powered by Nijenhuis' galloping double bass. The title track switches to full-on epic black metal mode with its blazing guitar runs, Nijenhuis' furious tempos and Merz's feral growl, recalling early vintage Satyricon or Dissection, something that pops back up again later on in “Spirits of The Dead.” “The Hail Storm,” despite its warring Viking factions subject matter, is even more ferocious and “black” - and gets some additional heft from the meaty riffs as it nears its end.
Merz then makes the leap from the fantastical to the topical with the grinding death metal of “Collateral Murder” and its tale of modern horrors – be it terrorism or urban violence - complete with police radio calls before doing another 180 back to Viking/folk metal territory for the jaunty “The Lost Ones.” All this back and forth makes for a rather a dizzying ride, but it speaks to Merz's creative spirit – and is perhaps the reason he flies mostly solo with Bloodred. Trying to get other band members to follow his whims is probably more trouble than it's worth.
Nijenhuis, though, seems more than willing to play along, and handles all the sharp corners and dead sprints with aplomb. Krull, too, captures the ever-shifting moods and styles with an even hand, ensuring a consistent sound throughout with plenty of crunch and enough rough edges to really make things stick. Never indulgent, but always adventurous, Merz makes a real statement with Bloodred's debut. It will be interesting to see where he takes things from here, and with whom.