Released: 2014, Bleeding Music Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Sweden is known for many things the world-over: IKEA, Abba, Absolut vodka and revered as one of the world's most beautiful countries. Cheesy pop-aside, the country is also known for its metal export: melodic death metal. The Gothenburg sound is a hallmark subgenre within the confines of death metal and the influence is has established is both prominent and far-reaching. For a genre often thought of as an ugly assault on the aural (and wider) senses, it threads a degree of beauty through it and creates memorable, pleasing melodies.
BLEEDING UTOPIA's sophomore “Darkest Potency” is anything but beautiful. It is a snarling, rabid beast full of Andreas Morén and Joakim Bergros' squalling riffs, IRON MAIDEN-esque harmonised leads and David Ahlén's vicious screams. Death seems to be the central topic of the album, with seven of the album's nine tracks having the word, its variants or allusions to it within the title itself. This is not an album to relax you after a day at work.
“Blackest Of Bloods” opens proceedings with venom and fury, the ominous sampled phrase “We are all evil in some way, aren't we?” giving way to a scurrying riff and blasting drums (performed by the ever-awesome Kevin Talley) which never lets up throughout the remainder of the album. “I Will Return” incorporates some delicious harmonised riffs and leads, whilst penultimate track “Until Death Collects Them All” also softens proceedings with a melodic, half-time centre before returning to bristling fury. However, the final track, “Nighttime Divine”, offers an ominous after-burn to the album. Slowing (just a little) to somewhere in the region of mid-tempo stomp, it burns slowly but with an authoritative power – this is the final track of the album and you shall know it.
It isn't just an album of relentless thrashing riffs; there are grooves to be had. Punctuating and accenting where needed, it works seamlessly with the rest of the onslaught. However there are times where it feels a bit too much – only the latter stages of the album in “Bring Me Your Dead” and “Nighttime Divine” do BLEEDING UTOPIA let up and allow some dynamics to come into play. It is a welcome addition as it adds an extra layer of variation; let the tide recede and the returning wave will have a bigger impact. It is what makes the above two the best tracks on the album.
“Darkest Potency” is certainly a potent album and one that anyone in search of an aggressive album with hints of melodicism will thoroughly enjoy. There is a lack of variation which may make the aural assault a little tiring, but it is in the same vein as early Swedish pioneers IN FLAMES and AT THE GATES. For a band that has been around since 2003 (under two different names) and endured numerous lineup changes, BLEEDING UTOPIA have locked down a sound approach that will serve future releases well.
Review by: Lee Carter