Reviewed: August 2021
Released: 2021, AFM Records
Reviewer: Jack Merry
Swedish power metal outfit Bloodbound have returned in 2021 with their ninth studio album entitled Creatures of the Dark Realm, the follow-up to 2019’s well-received Rise of the Dragon Empire. Continuing the trend of anthemic, fist-pumping power metal akin to bands such as Gamma Ray and Sabaton, Bloodbound are a force to be reckoned with within the genre.
A Bloodbound album for me has always been an opportunity to put it on, turn the lights out, and lose myself in the grand and fantastical worlds that band mainstay, lead guitarist, and chief songwriter Tomas Olsson and company bring to life musically. They’ve always had a clean, pristine sheen to their production, and this is no different on Creatures… as each instrument and vocal melody are mixed to perfection, with just enough pomp and bombast to help carry the magical and fantasy elements without coming across as ridiculous.
One of my favourite moments on Creatures of the Dark Realm comes during ‘When Fate is Calling,’ with its mammoth chorus part. It’s immediately arresting and infectious, and during my first listen through the entire album, it took a few repeats before I wanted to listen to the rest of the album. Patrik Selleby’s dominating vocal performance shines throughout the entire album, but here it just explodes through the speakers. It is delivered with such conviction that even though power metal is filled with cliches, you forget about them entirely here.
Say my name in every story / Keep my memory alive / Send a message over mountains high / And never let it die / Pray my soul return to glory / On ascending wings I’ll fly / In the tales of ancient warriors / They face it eye to eye / When fate is calling / When fate is calling
‘Kill or Be Killed’ and ‘Gathering of Souls’ are both stomping examples of how power metal should be done, with a thunderous rhythm section on each track backing volcanic guitar riffs and incredibly vocal lines. ‘Eyes Come Alive’ brings to mind the German heavy metal stalwarts Primal Fear and you’ll know exactly what I mean as soon as you hear it; and ‘March into War’ may be the closest they’ve ever gotten to sounding like Sabaton with a military-style marching beat and gang vocals.
Creatures of the Dark Realm is undoubtedly one of the best metal albums 2021 has to offer so far, and any fan of Sabaton, Hammerfall, and Gamma Ray will feel right at home with Bloodbound’s latest effort. Melodic guitar riffs and explosive solos erupt at any opportunity, powerful stratospheric vocals, and a thundering rhythm section all bring it home while wrapped in a pristine production. Don’t miss this one!