With former members such as Edge of Sanity’s Dan Swanö, Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt and Peter Tätgren of Hypocrisy-fame and a current line-up no less imposing, consisting of members of Katatonia, Opeth, Craft and the latest feather in the cap, Paradise Lost front man Nick Holmes, it’s easy to understand that Bloodbath breathes, and bleeds, classic Death Metal and thus, their return with a new album in late October 2018, is a welcome addition to Halloween, the only holiday worth celebrating, for every death worshipper worthy his (or her) name!
Although the initial reason for the band might have been to pay tribute to the classic Stockholm school of Death Metal, with a touch of Florida Death and spiced with the fumes of Autopsy, Bloodbath with “The Arrow of Satan is Drawn” is hardly a carbon copy of the classic pieces but the group itself have enough inherent Death Metal-wisdom to create something of their own, and thus necessary, from the ancient laws which the music grows on.
“The Arrow of Satan is Drawn” starts off with the chaotic “Fleischman” and “Bloodicide”, that effectively mixes blast beats with heavier parts and of course a huge dose of classic two-stroke Death Metal and then carries on with the more thrashy “Wayward Samaritan” and the ultra-heaviness of the Doom Metal-epic “Leviator”. The songs are richly decorated with sudden stops and accents to bring forth the aggression this style of music always should carry and put simply the listener is invited to a lesson in how Death Metal is meant to sound!
The melodic elements are sparse, but on those occasions the guitars depart from the more rhythmic style riffing, they never delve into shredding or catchy melodies, but instead delivers minor key melodies and tremolo riffing harmonies, more suitable to accompany the realm of the (un-)dead rather than the world of the living.
Vocalist Nick Holmes once, sometime between Paradise Lost’s breakthrough album “Shades of God” and the successful (but utterly boring) “Icon”, stated that he no longer felt like screaming his lungs out, feeling he destroyed Gregor Mackintosh’s delicate compositions, a statement I always found annoying. The reason is of course that Nick is a brilliant growler! His quaint, well-articulated and cruel sounding vocal style fits Bloodbaths style of Death Metal like a glove, and is a necessity to maintain credibility in grim tunes like “Deader” and the evil serenade “Morbid Antichrist”.
As if that were not enough, providing a crash course in Death Metal, Bloodbath put in an unexpected turn in the last three songs, the superb “Warhead ritual”, “Only The Dead Survive” with its super-heavy ending and the captivating final song “Chainsaw Lullaby”, by spicing it up with a little Crust Punk-styled metal, which of course is a sheer delight for an old Hellhammer and Celtic Frost junkie like me!
If you really need to find something to complain about, you could have wished the album to be a few minutes shorter, since aggression is best served in moderate portions, but that is really nitpicking and not a big problem here.
“The Arrow of Satan is Drawn” is a fine tribute to the glory days of Death Metal, and an album that, even without a nostalgic shimmer, is able to stand on its own, but if you happen to be one of those who get your kicks out of the more melodic Gothenburg-sound you should beware, because this is the real deal! Consider yourself warned!
Title: The Arrow of Satan is Drawn
Label: Peaceville Records
Date of release: 26/10-18
Playing time: 41.07
Stand out track: Warhead Ritual