Reconvening after a four year absence, Swedish Death Metal supergroup Bloodbath stand a month from releasing their long anticipated follow up to 2014’s “Grand Morbid Funeral”, the first to feature Paradise Lost frontman Nick Holmes on vocals.
“The Arrow of Satan is Drawn” is a bellowing monstrosity of well paced grooves and disgusting riffing that sets a very high bar for itself.
Thematically it describes humanity’s ever vigilant march towards its downfall. “The threat to this world isn’t far beyond the sun, the enemy is right here within its walls” proclaims guitarist Blakkheim. With that in mind, the group have effectively created a fitting soundtrack to this theme that takes the usual tropes of Death Metal and doses them out with careful measure but also adds in a high degree of variation in the tracks themselves and throughout the album. It maintains a furious pace and tone that is sure to distract you from whatever it is you’re doing and start windmilling on the spot.
The only time the album loses its intensity is in its last two tracks. “Only the dead survive” maintains the sound of the album but loses its momentum and variation which stands out quite a lot. It’s actually a good track but the contrast it injects breaks up the flow of the album. “Chainsaw Lullabye” attempts to regain the momentum but comes off as rushed or “safe” in a way the remainder of the album isn’t. Again, not a terrible song, just not particularly memorable and in my opinion a strange choice for a single considering 8 of the tracks on the album have it easily beat and a jarring way to end what was a great album! The only other issue I have is the vocals if Holmes, they’re great and serve their purpose very well but they just sit in the one place and that’s it. For an album full of variation it’s excusable, but no less disappointing.
From here on, when I say the whole album I really mean everything but the last two songs. Deal with it. Anyway, the whole album is TOUGH. I really enjoyed the interplay in the rhythm section, you can headbang to it and with the way its structured, the compositions will move around you. This lends GREATLY in emphasising the darker tone and creates a unique flow in the album where things don’t ever really stagnate.
The lyrics are littered with whimsically dry and dark humor that evoked more than a few chuckles and the vocal production (with exception of the aforementioned lack of flexibility) is strong. There’s a distortion to them and slight reverb that makes them pop however there’s a gravellyness to the sound that I feel might be missing. It’s hard to pinpoint whether its Holmes’s voice or the mixing, but either way it’s a minor complaint.
Marking his debut with the band, Joakim Karlsson of Black Metal band Craft slots in perfectly beside Blakkheim to enforce a feverish chainsaw-like assault on guitar. The riffs, hooks and solos exhibited throughout are inventive and interesting while being slathered in that signature Swedish Death Metal HM-2 sound.
I couldn’t put a finger on a standout track as the whole album is gnarly and exudes confidence in the band and what they’ve set out to create, though I’ll somewhat arbitrarily go with “Bloodicide” for the inclusion of Carcass’s Jeff Walker, Bolt Thrower’s Karl Willetts and Cancer’s John Walker, all from the UK Death Metal scene. I mainly choose it for the variation in vocals and also the sheer badassery of having three luminaries in the UKDM scene in one track.
Did you know you could pre order the album by CLICKING HERE?