S-Tier Songs, Vol. 8

I’m now into the 8th edition of S-Tier Songs. These are songs I consider the best of the best. For more information as well as a list of prior “inductees,” head to this page.

Today it’s high time I included an extreme metal tune in the mix. Rock is great and all but there have been some gems come from the underground. Today’s pick is widely considered one of, if not the, catchiest death metal songs recorded. And it was recorded by a group of guys who wanted to form a side project just to mess around with some old school death metal. It’s also the case of a song where it can be argued that a live version outshines the original studio recording.

Bloodbath – Eaten

Eaten was originally released on Bloodbath’s second album, 2004’s Nightmares Made Flesh. While the group originally featured Opeth mainman Mikael Åkerfeldt, he would leave the project after their first recording. To complete the second album, joining the supergroup of Dan Swanö (Edge Of Sanity), Anders Nyström and Jonas Renske (Katatonia), and Martin Axenrot (Opeth) was Peter Tägtgren of Hypocrisy fame.

For those unfamiliar with the various ends of extreme metal – this is a who’s who of performers. Opeth was a juggernaut by 2004. Dan Swano was a mainstay of many forms of extreme metal since the early 1990’s. And Katatonia are one of doom’s main purveyors. Adding in the mainman of Hypocrisy, an early forerunner of melodic Swedish death metal and a guy responsible for producing many metal albums through the 90’s and 2000’s, is just icing on the cake.

The album was consumed rabidly by the metal fanbase. A centerpiece of the record was the song Eaten. While a lot of death metal’s buzzsaw guitars and psycho-paced drumming fly by many listeners, plenty of people caught on to the hooks in the song that reeled listeners in. Instead of playing at a breakneck pace, the group turned the speed dial down and stomped out a massive riff that pulled in a captive audience. It’s still very headbangable but also capable of being digested by people not as accustomed to death metal.

Any good death metal song needs the proper savage lyrics to accompany it, and Eaten delivered in spades. Peter Tägtgren spewed forth a fierce account of a person wishing to be eaten by a cannibal. Nothing totally unusual in death metal, though the twist of portraying the “victim” rather than the cannibal was interesting. One other interesting note?

It was a true story.

Eaten is based on the tale of German cannibal killer Armin Meiwes. Apparently Meiwes advertised for a willing victim in a cannibal fetish website section and found a volunteer in Bernd Brandes, who headed to Meiwes’ place and … well, here’s the Wikipedia page if you want to know more. The sensational murder has been used as a song, movie and TV prop since it first hit headlines.

Bloodbath had some issues maintaining a stable line-up due to everyone’s day jobs in well-known bands. Tägtgren would exit the group in early 2005 due to commitments with Hypocrisy and other projects. The rest of the band had a gig, to that date their first, planned for the 2005 edition of the famed Wacken Open Air Festival. Of course they would need a replacement singer to helm the vocals for the gig.

Re-enter Mikael Åkerfeldt . Opeth’s leader decided to front Bloodbath again for the show and would wind up staying with the group for several more years. The festival performance was later released on DVD and CD as The Wacken Carnage. Ending the set was the band’s rendition of Eaten, a performance often celebrated as superior to it studio recording.

There is something just extra savage in Åkerfeldt’s delivery of the Eaten lyrics that night, as well as the band’s frantic performance that outpaces the original. It’s not that there was fault with Tägtgren’s studio recording, it’s just that Bloodbath got into the moment at the Wacken gig and blew the figurative roof off on that day. Many fans express their opinion that the live version is the song’s definitive offering.

No telling if this stays up but it’s been lingering awhile so I’ll go with it

Why is this an S-Tier song?

Eaten is a masterwork of death metal songwriting, offered by a group of pros who mostly weren’t even involved otherwise in death metal at the time. The song is easily one of the catchiest death metal songs recorded and that’s something of a rare feat to combine hooky songwriting in a genre known for savagery and technical proficiency. Eaten made old school death metal cool again in a time when metal was going in many different directions and taking itself very seriously.

Note – Those name accents are pains in the ass.

As a bonus, here is a more recent performance from present-day Bloodbath singer Nick Holmes (Paradise Lost)

4 thoughts on “S-Tier Songs, Vol. 8

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