Sweden, like many Scandinavian countries has a rich history in metal. At The Gates, Opeth and Amon Amarth are just a few of the Swedish bands that have definitively influenced the genre, and power metal act Bloodbound, while not being nearly as recognized as the aforementioned names is another band of reasonable note. Now 17 years into their careers, they’ve opened for the likes of fellow Swedes HammerFall and original Iron Maiden vocalist Paul Di’Anno, all while juggling with different vocalists before settling on Patrick Johansson in 2010. Now they’ve come out with their ninth album Creatures Of The Dark Realm, a collection of new tunes crafted and executed in trademark power metal fashion- nothing less, nothing more.
Coming off of the heels of the acoustic intro “The Creatures Preludium”, the title track rides in on a combination of Firewind and Children of Bodom, a mix more subtly expressed in the rousing “When Fate Is Calling”. “Ever Burning Flame” features a similarly jolting chorus, though conceptually the track and much of what else has been demonstrated thus far is fairly boilerplate, for better or worse. The same can be said of “Eyes Come Alive”, a cocktail of classic metal elements that run the gamut from Accept to Bodom, as well as the soundtrack-to-a-medieval-battle ear-pounder “Death Will Lead the Way”, which if it does nothing else for you musically should at least make you want to invest in some chain mail and a sword.
Likewise, “Gathering of Souls” runs off of a similar energizing, distinctly European prototype; alongside “Kill or Be Killed” it’s a clear-cut demonstration of Bloodbound’s penchant for crafting fist-pumping war anthems if they have nothing else in their arsenal. From there the thematics don’t differ much; “The Gargoyles Gate” and “Face of Evil” are run-of-the-mill by genre standards, though “March For War” offers a bit of a fresher approach to the Bloodbound formula and “The Wicked and the Weak” packs the appropriate punch to close the record out- a slight element of balladry, but nevertheless doused in the vigour of a hundred fighting men to go out strong.
Genres like power metal are great in their proper context: a clear, definitive sound preserved over decades that never fail to amp up and inspire those that listen to it. The flipside of that is there’s only so far a style like that can travel sonically, and that’s made clear with this record which is 12 tracks of more or less the same song over and over. Again, for those that are passionate and devoted to this kind of music or any particular niche genre a record like this will be thoroughly enjoyable; to others it gets tiresome and frustrating with the lack of innovation and sonically venturing outside the box. Indeed, the quality of any piece of music is based in varying degrees of subjectivity, so the fairest thing that could be said about Creatures Of The Dark Realm is that it’s good for what it is.