Raleigh, North Carolina's one man death metal band Bloodsoaked has earned quite the cult following. Peter Hasselbrack, the meistro of this eviscerating solo project, brought this creation to life back in 2006, supposedly named after and following a distibution effort he ran around the turn of the century. Since then there have been three full-length slabs of brutality made available between 2007 and 2011, all of which issued through Comatose Music, home for the brand new 2014 EP Religious Apocalypse. But will this new smaller recording consisting of a handful of new compositions, eighties covers and live songs appease the appetite of its most loyal fans?

One thing that stands out on Religious Apocalypse is that it's a rather hushed outing compared to the three previous outings. While the gutturals are in Peter's signature growl similar to the hushed approach on Annihilator's Remains album, the overall volume of the album just seems greatly podded down. I had to turn the volume up on the studio recordings despite having my speakers already cranked pretty high from listening to another album just moments before diving into this release for the first time. It's definitely a mild inconvenience, but that's all as it thankfully doesn't take away any bite once you raise the volume to the desired level.

"Devouring" mixes together steady blast beats and some catchy grooves in the main verses that always seem to be building even though they basically remain the same pace through most of the creepy performance. Around the two minute mark, however, there is a bit of a Hardcore touch to the music akin to Dying Fetus that is a nice change of sound to the still consistent tempo. "Religious Apocalypse" is the polar opposite of this, taking its time to slowly burn the listener with harsher atmospheres that the guitars can sometimes make feel unsetteling as it seems to dredge the depths of the foulest of filth-ridden depths. Meanwhile "Abomination" is like listening to an early Cryptopsy album with the amount of sudden changes that occur to the music throughout to build up a stronger technical side to the existing Brutal death metal presence.

While the set of new material is fairly good, all three seem to just be a bit too mechanical and simplistic in concept at times. There's also moments during "Devouring and "Abomination" where you know the riffs sound different, the patterns are varied, it seems like a new song, but you can't shake the feeling you just heard this material on the other. But, let's face it, the chunk most listeners will probably race to first are the two eighties Glam Rock covers that, no, are not what you think. Much like the aforementioned feeling you can't shake, these two renditions will bring the same dread that accompanied the last two Grvaeyard Classics recordings from Six Feet Under in that they just sound bulkier with the signature Bloodsoaked vocal style that are fun but lose their gimmick value fairly quick.

And then there's the live material. All four songs are raw recordings that sound like they were captured moderately close to the stage instead of the soundboard during a single set. This is evidenced by the transition between "No God (Live)" through "Grinding Your Guts (Live)." This isn't a bad thing though as you get the chance to experience a far more abrasive and natural (to an extent) sounding Bloodsoaked that is more impressive than any of the studio material on this release, or even the past three full-lengths really. There's plenty of enthusiasm on all four tracks that make banging your head along impossible to ignore, and the obvious analog traits add so much more bite. "Suicide (Live)" comes alive with infectious brutality and some hooks in the chorus that, for lack of a better word, seem to pop with despairaging flair. The only one that doesn't really do much is "Grinding Your Guts (Live)," but that's due to the heay focus on cymbals drowning the music out a bit and taking away from the richer guitars.

Religious Apocalypse is your standard EP in every way possible. A few new songs, a couple covers, and a handful of live tracks adorn this new release like they would on a similar release in the eighties or nineties, or even an extended CD Single from a big name band, just without the five remixes of the same track. Fans who have enjoyed Bloodsoaked up to this point will surely get a kick out of the three original compositions, as well as enjoy the live performances, especially if you haven't had the chance to see or hear this solo project on stage before. The covers, however, are nothing original and only fun the first one or two times you hear them. Had Six Feet Under not run the idea into the ground during their Death 'n Roll days, this argument probably wouldn't even be happening really. But, overall, Religious Apocalypse is something those loyal to the solo act will enjoy, and those who never could get into it before will still feel the same way, even though the four live songs are pretty damn good overall and make you wish Peter would just release albums of new material recorded live in front of a concert going audience.

Review originally posted at Apoch's Metal Review.