Bloodbath were never a side project for any of its members after living for twenty years and now releasing their filth album The Arrow of Satan is Drawn, this band just keeps providing the old school death metalhead something to smile about. This time though, Bloodbath are showing their traditional heavy metal leanings more than ever, which may raise some alarm bells to the Nightmare Made Flesh fans but I can assure you, it is all masterfully played with musicians that have been in the extreme metal scene for more than thirty years. There is very much still the Swedish old-school death metal influences throughout but heavy metal have maybe replaced the Floridian death metal influences on this one. This will partly explain the influence that new guitarist Joakim Karlsson from Craft has brought to the dissecting table and as much as I love the Swedish buzzsaw guitar sound, the sound of this album is more brutal than ever before.
Starting off with “Fleischmann” (which shouldn’t be hard to decipher) with its blackened death metal riffs from Anders and Joakim and backed by blast beats in the more black metal style by ever-present drummer Martin Axenrot. What makes this song stand out though comes from a vocalist that I will admit I was worried about when he joined Bloodbath. Nick Holmes being not a kick in the arse off of 50, (sorry, Nick), has never sounded so good and his growls are as powerful as you would want them to be.
For me, the next track “Bloodicide” which the band released a few weeks ago to whet everyone’s appetite is up there with Bloodbath’s other classic song “Eaten” with the added bonus of having Jeff Walker from Carcass, John Walker of Cancer and Karl Willetts of Memoriam. Everything from the arrangements to the time changes and melodies makes you want to listen to this song over and over again. The chorus gets you off your ass to sing in full voice while strumming your air guitar. Beautiful Swedeath metal of the highest order and more than what Bloodbath are renowned for. This song is made by old school death metal heads for old school death metal fans.
“Wayward Samaritan” has a more old school metal feel to it and paying homage to their own influences as kids. After all, this music is for the kids, right?! A mixture of all elements of metal are prevalent to the song and it may take longer to get the head moving, but it will move. “Levitator” starts off with an Autopsy feel before it speeds up slightly for some slamming death metal with slow chomping riffs that inevitably breaks your neck moshing in unison. It does pick up pace mid-song which is most welcome, but this one is for when you see Bloodbath live and they feel pity for you.
The beautifully named “Deader” starts off with a huge growl from Nick which I didn’t think he had in him but I felt this track had a punkier feel to it and then the blast beats filled the air. Martin is certainly a very talented drummer with his other band Opeth but when it comes to mixing brutality with speed, he is up there with the best. It’s the chorus where I again feel this track is at its strongest. There are all the traditional Swedeath metal tropes in there as well and some nice melodic riffs from Anders and Joakim especially when the solos kicked in.
“March of the Crucifiers” is once again a beautiful name for a track and with lyrics to match “In the name of hell / We strip the cross of the archpriest / Get the rope and hang him high / To the gallows we go”. Backed by brilliant solos and double bass from Martin, although this is not the best track on the album, it is a very appropriate Bloodbath song. “Morbid Antichrist” carries on with the stop-start riffs and has many good points throughout the song and once again is your typical Bloodbath song without the highlights of the beginning of the album per se.
“Warhead Ritual” starts off with a death ‘n’ roll feel but it makes you appreciate the sound given to drummer Martin and in particular, his snare has never sounded so good. Once again, while being particularly Bloodbath, there are the traditional metal elements in the song with the guitar solo in particular. It’s with the next track “Only the Dead Survive” that we thankfully return to Bloodbath and what they are renowned for. Creating nostalgic, creepy and eerie Swedish death metal with its stomping riff and mid-paced drums allowing the listener to lose it and mosh away. The riffs are powerful and I am sure that this track would be huge live. This is what I yearn and this is my death metal and the second half of the track, in particular, getting louder and louder just got me off my ass and started a pit in my living room. Final track “Chainsaw Lullaby” has everything that the hardened death metal fan would want, whether it’s the singalong chorus or growling of “Slashing, fucking / Hacking, stabbing / Piercing, scraping / Mutilation!” there are some exceptional riffs in this song, especially towards the end and I did love the chainsaw samples. This is deep. This is heavy. This is evil. Exactly what Bloodbath should be doing and a class way to end this album.
There are more influences in this album than Bloodbath have used before but what Bloodbath do and do well is construct songs that have cool parts, air guitar parts, growling parts, kicking the shit out of things parts…and that’s just for the listener. Welcome back Bloodbath….horns up! Special mentions must go to the overall sound and mix as the sound is clear but still muddy. Another special mention must be of the stunning cover art by Eliran Kantor which is disturbing but equally as stunning.
The Arrow of Satan is Drawn is released on 26th October