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Bloodhunter Preach The Metal Gospel On “The End Of Faith”

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Somewhat ironically, The End Of Faith concludes with an act of worship. Bloodhunter close their sophomore album with pinch-harmonic heavy cover of Death’s “Crystal Mountain.” Released in 1995, this song is old enough to be a common touchstone for multiple generations of death metal fans. For comparison’s sake, when Death themselves covered Judas Priest’s “Painkiller,” they were reaching back to a song only eight years old at the time. By this measure, covering Death is to display appreciation and devotion to metal’s sacred cows. This is not to say that the Spanish trio sound like Death, just that their newest record is one that is informed, and improved, by its adherence to metal doctrine.

The album’s intro is equally telling. Like the whole of The End Of Faith, “The Forbidden Zone” places guitarist Fenris front and center. Fenris (with an “s”) is a shredder in the neoclassical tradition, one who fills his solos with sweep picking and crisp articulation. The ten original tracks are all written with this in mind, and each clears out plenty of space for Fenris to do his thing. This is often an utter delight. Fenris’ playing has a wonderful mix of deftness and flair, floating through blistering arpeggios with easy grace, but stringing those sequences along with an ear for drama. Take the solo section of “All These Souls Shall Serve Forever,” where Fenris alternates sandwiches a stirring harmonized lead between two dizzying runs up and down the fretboard, creating a clear and captivating arc.

Fenris displays this same sense of contrast in his approach to rhythm guitar. Here, he returns the favor to rest of the band for their supportive playing during his solos. As a rhythm guitarist Fenris is still overtly technical, sneaking some flutters into the verse of “Spirits of Sin,” but he steps back to allow singer Diva Satánica full command of the audience’s attention. At their best, the two of them, along with bassist Éadrom and drummer for hire Marcelo Aires, are unstoppable, capable of roiling ferocity on the verse of “Eyes Wide Open.”

Many of these standout moments come when the band draw most explicitly from the tech-death lineage of bands like Necrophagist and Obscura, bands that play in absurdly high definition and vivid detail. Bloodhunter streamline a lot of the nuances, even the album’s requisite mid-album instrumental “Death & Rebirth” hews closer to the accessible melodies of Iron Maiden or Megadeth. I choose these broad picture examples deliberately. Bloodhunter play death metal that makes no bones about its broad appeal, offering direct intensity and dazzling guitar fireworks in equal parts. The End Of Faith is itself a defender of the faith in extreme metal’s big tent potential.

The End Of Faith is out on October 14th via Xtreem. Follow Bloodhunter on Facebook.

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