Bleeding Gods are a new thrash/death metal band from The Netherlands, established in 2012 by guitarist Ramon Ploeg, who had just quit Houwitser. Taking inspiration from mythological themes and ancient history, they released their first album, “Shepherd of Souls”, three years ago, gaining some recognition. Recently, after recruiting new members in second guitar and drums, they released their second album via Nuclear Blast, under the Greek name “Dodekathlon”.

As its title implies, “Dodekathlon” is a concept album, referring to Hercules’s 12 labors, while each one of the 12 songs corresponds to a specific labor of the famous Greek hero. From the very first listening session, a major difference is evident compared to the first album, as the more traditional death metal approach of “Shepherd of Souls” is substituted by a melodic orientation, mainly through the extensive use of keyboards, either at the background or the foreground, and lead guitar solos. Therefore, in many occasions keys become prominent, acting as a connecting bridge between guitar parts, like in “From Feast to Beast” (probably the hit of the album).

We come across more interesting compositions in “Beloved By Artemis”, “Inhuman Humiliation” and “Tripled Anger”, that feature various tempo changes, while “Hera’s Orchard” distinguishes for its slow, doom atmosphere. However, the aggressive, death metal aspect of the band is not absent, as songs like “Bloodguilt”, “Beloved My Artemis” and “Birds of Hate” feature the straightforward, up-tempo riffing and blast beats of the genre.

In a few words, “Dodekathlon” is an atmospheric version of death metal, based upon a black metal canvas and properly supported by the usual, clear production of Nuclear Blast. However, the new direction of the band, especially concerning symphonic elements and melodic riffing, is heavily influenced by Behemoth and Dimmu Borgir. Besides its similarity to already established patterns, |Dodekathlon| has the disadvantage of its long duration: one hour is too much given the general lack of diversity of some songs (forty minutes would be ideal).

Conclusively, “Dodekathlon” may not be a bad album, but sounds familiar, like something that –more or less - we have heard before. However, the band has some interesting ideas and composing ability that has to evolve further in order to attract a wider audience.

♦ 6.5/10

Alex Nikolaidis