Bloodbath – The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn – Album Review

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Artist: Bloodbath

Album Title: The Arrow of Satan Is Drawn

Label: Peaceville

Date of Release: 26 October 2018

It has been four years since death metal ‘supergroup’ Bloodbath last butchered our ears with a slab of dirty and depraved extreme metal. ‘Grand Morbid Funeral’ was released in 2014 to mixed reviews but I have always had a real soft spot for Bloodbath, regardless of the clientele involved or the musical direction that the band have taken.

The love affair started with the debut, although I must admit I initially only listened because of the involvement of key members of my beloved Katatonia. But once I listened to the debut, ‘Resurrection Through Carnage’ way back in 2002, I classed myself as a fan. This fan status has remained because, as far as I’m concerned, Bloodbath have always produced high quality gory death metal and latest full-length, ‘The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn’, is no different.

The current line-up consists of Katatonia duo Jonas Renkse (bass) and Anders Nystrom (guitar) alongside Opeth’s Martin Axenrot (drums), Paradise Lost’s Nick Holmes (vocals) and new addition Joakim Karlsson of Craft on guitar. And it is this new addition that seems to have had quite a big impact on the band if the music on ‘The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn’ is anything to go by. For whilst the output here is undeniably death metal of the Scandinavian persuasion, with parallels to the likes of Dismember and early Entombed, this record brings a hefty hint of black metal to the overall sound.

This shift in the Bloodbath sound is noticeable right from the off, as ‘Fleischmann’ rips the speakers apart with the sound of buzzsaw guitar riffs, wailing feedback and dark, ominous atmosphere. Nick Holmes sounds as possessed as ever, spitting and growling his diatribes with venomous intent. The tones of the lead guitars when they emerge are cold but carry a certain eerily melody with them to counterpoint the filthy death metal beneath, culminating in a cracking first track.

‘Bloodicide’ carries more of the typical Bloodbath death grunt and plenty of satisfying groove, led by the chunky riffing of Nystrom in particular. The drumming of Axenrot is more flamboyant here, indulging in some great tom fills along the way, whilst necks are snapped at the 1:51 mark with the entrance of one of the grooviest riffs on the album, which give way to an expansive, wailing solo. As the song advances, the black metal hints re-emerge via some frosty guitar work and the pace is temporarily quickened, but this is devastating brutal and filthy death metal of the highest order. When you add into the mix guest appearances from Carcass’ Jeff Walker, Karl Willets of Bolt Thrower/Memoriam fame and John Walker of Cancer, it is hardly surprising that this is easily one of my favourite tracks on this record.

I can’t help but think of ‘Wayward Samaritan’ as more of an extreme death ‘n’ roll number thanks to the catchy opening riff which appears at points throughout the fast-paced composition. It is a real grower actually and well worthy of a place on this record, especially when topped off by an inspired slowing of the pace at the death to emphasise the central larger-than-life riff. And ‘Chainsaw Lullaby’ reinforces the death metal credentials with a classic homage to the likes of Grave or Dismember, complete with graphic and violent lyrics of the ‘cut him, rip him, chop him’ variety, alongside the sounds of agonised screams for good measure.

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Not content to repeat themselves, Bloodbath mix things up nicely on ‘The Arrow of Satan Is Drawn’. As such, ‘Levitator’ sees the quintet exploring more of a claustrophobic and exhausting death/doom approach. I’m reminded of Morbid Angel’s ‘Where The Slime Live’ thanks to the lurching, grinding buzzsaw riffs and the effects at play on Holmes’ vocals, which make him sound like he’s gargling bitumen.

Speaking of death/doom, both ‘March of the Crucifiers’ and ‘Morbid Antichrist’ feature elements of this within them. The latter is doused in cinematic, theatrical grandeur thanks to the injection od choir vocals and evil-sounding spoken-word embellishments, not to mention more wailing leads, icy riffs and frantic drumming. The former contains some classic pinched harmonics, for which I have a real weak spot. That said, the central riff, accented by near blastbeats at times is a behemoth and worthy of the entrance fee alone.

Featuring the brilliantly sinister lyric, ‘Sinfully, I lust for my death’, ‘Deader’ has to be another highlight amongst many on this record, especially the echoes of Dissection within some of the intense, blackened and frosty riffing and subtle melodic intentions. The swirling leads and sense of malevolent cloying atmosphere are the icing on this maggot-infested cake.

‘Warhead Ritual’ has to be one of the catchiest cuts on the album, whilst ‘Only The Dead Survive’ has some of the most pronounced black metal elements woven into it thanks to some spine-tingling lead guitar lines that could freeze you at one hundred paces.

The more I have listened to ‘The Arrow of Satan Is Drawn’, the more I am certain that this almost certainly has to be Bloodbath’s finest hour. It simply has everything that you might want from a brutal death metal record – the riffs, the atmosphere, the groove, the melodic hints, the variety, the intensity and the note perfect execution from a group of musicians whose ability and commitment to the music that they love is unquestionable. Yes, I’m certain, ‘The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn’ is Bloodbath at their extreme, evil and gory best.

The Score of Much Metal: 9.25

If you’ve enjoyed this review, you can check out my others from 2018 and from previous years right here:

2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

Nochnoy Dozor – Nochnoy Dozor EP
Vola – Applause of a Distant Crowd
Lost In Thought – Renascence
Into Eternity – The Sirens
Fifth Angel – The Third Secret
Ashes of my Memory – Raptures /// Disillusions EP
Anathema – Internal Landscapes
Samskaras – Lithification
Seventh Dimension – The Corrupted Lullaby
Hate Eternal – Upon Desolate Sands
Witherfall – A Prelude To Sorrow
Northward – Northward
Seventh Wonder – Tiara
Warrel Dane – Shadow Work
Haken – Vector
Beyond Creation – Algorythm
Ultha – The Inextricable Wandering
Amaranthe – Helix
Ghost Ship Octavius – Delirium
Decembre Noir – Autumn Kings
The Odious Construct – Shrine of the Obscene
Fauna Timbre – Altering Echoes
The Moor – Jupiter’s Immigrants
Revocation – The Outer Ones
Riverside – Wasteland
Ethernity – The Human Race Extinction
Dynazty – Firesign
Deicide – Overtures of Blasphemy
Brainstorm – Midnight Ghost
Krisiun – Scourge of the Enthroned
Kingcrow – The Persistence
Cast The Stone – Empyrean Atrophy
Omnium Gatherum – The Burning Cold
Helion Prime – Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster
Madder Mortem – Marrow
A Dying Planet – Facing The Incurable
Árstíðir – Nivalis
Mob Rules – Beast Reborn
The Spirit – Sounds From The Vortex
Aethereus – Absentia
Unanimated – Annihilation
Manticora – To Kill To Live To Kill
Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name
Halcyon Way – Bloody But Unbowed
Michael Romeo – War Of The Worlds, Part 1
Redemption – Long Night’s Journey Into Day
Distorted Harmony – A Way Out
Tomorrow’s Eve – Mirror of Creation III – Project Ikaros
Atrocity – Okkult II
Lux Terminus – The Courage To Be
Kataklysm – Meditations
Marduk – Viktoria
Midas Fall – Evaporate
The Sea Within – The Sea Within
Haken – L-1VE
Follow The Cipher – Follow The Cipher
Spock’s Beard – Noise Floor
Ihsahn – Amr
The Fierce And The Dead – The Euphoric
Millennial Reign – The Great Divide
Subsignal – La Muerta
At The Gates – To Drink From The Night Itself
Dimmu Borgir – Eonian
Hekz – Invicta
Widow’s Peak – Graceless EP
Ivar Bjørnson and Einar Selvik – Hugsjá
Frequency Drift – Letters to Maro
Æpoch – Awakening Inception
Crematory – Oblivion
Wallachia – Monumental Heresy
Skeletal Remains – Devouring Mortality
MØL – Jord
Aesthesys – Achromata
Kamelot – The Shadow Theory
Barren Earth – A Complex of Cages
Memoriam – The Silent Vigil
Kino – Radio Voltaire
Borealis – The Offering
W.E.T. – Earthrage
Auri – Auri
Purest of Pain – Solipsis
Susperia – The Lyricist
Structural Disorder – …And The Cage Crumbles In the Final Scene
Necrophobic – Mark of the Necrogram
Divine Realm – Nordicity
Oceans of Slumber – The Banished Heart
Poem – Unique
Gleb Kolyadin – Gleb Kolyadin
Apathy Noir – Black Soil
Deathwhite – For A Black Tomorrow
Conjurer – Mire
Jukub Zytecki – Feather Bed/Ladder Head
Lione/Conti – Lione/Conti
Usurpress – Interregnum
Kælling – Lacuna
Vinide – Reveal
Armored Dawn – Barbarians In Black
Long Distance Calling – Boundless
In Vain – Currents
Harakiri For The Sky – Arson
Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets And Dead Messiahs
Tribulation – Down Below
Machine Head – Catharsis
Bjorn Riis – Coming Home EP
Twilight’s Embrace – Penance EP
Bloodshot Dawn – Reanimation
Rise of Avernus – Eigengrau
Arch Echo – Arch Echo
Asenblut – Legenden
Bleeding Gods – Dodekathlon
Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse

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