With the times changing, so does the music. As a result, the normal progression veers off course into an entirely different entity, encompassing some of the best moments of different bands. In the case of Swedish Heavy Metal, Bloodbath was born in the late ’90s out of a few other well-respected bands.
Falling under the title ‘supergroup,’ and successful in different incarnations, the Death Metal outfit’s members originated from the likes of bands such as Katatonia and Opeth – once including Vocalist Mikael Akerfeldt plus super talents Dan Swanö and Peter Tägtgren a part of the mix. Sustaining some changes over time, Akerfeldt eventually felt the need to permanently dedicate his time to Opeth, officially leaving Bloodbath in 2012, soon ushering in Paradise Lost’s Nick Holmes to take over on vocals. Which leads us to present day where Bloodbath plot a return with the release of The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn on Friday, October 26th, 2018 via Peaceville Records.
Their first LP since 2014’s Grand Morbid Funeral, Holmes returns on vocals, as well as Anders “Blakkheim” Nyström and Joakim Karlsson on guitars, Jonas “Lord Seth” Renkse on bass, along with Martin “Axe” Axenrot on drums. Adding even more excitement, second track on the new album, “Bloodicide,” features Carcass’ Jeff Walker, Bolt Thrower/Memoriam’s Karl Willetts and Cancer’s John Walker. An amazing collaboration of Death Metal heroes, the beautiful combination of changing brutality in the echoing vocals are a satisfying turn of events. Yet still… there is much more to talk about.
In all, The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn is ten solid tracks of bloody rooted Death Metal with an extreme flavor of brutal riffage and sinister gravely vocals. Additionally, there are also two bonus tracks available on the limited CD edition for any adventurous fans. All of this in mind, the two stand out novelties on the album are the aforementioned “Bloodicide” and the ghastly advantageous “Morbid Antichrist,” a cut which begins with similar determination to a bat just out of hell.
Opening with “Fleischmann,” it is a vicious tune to start the chains rolling utilizing the typical Bloodbath tricks of the trade. Later, jumping into “Wayward Sumaritan,” once again the technical fortitude shines through and Holme’s impressively dark vocals seem to fit right in. Then, as one of the speedier tunes, “Deader” strikes an artery in the heart of the listener and takes a brutal flight down an open portal to hell with plenty of malediction.
Onto the concluding excerpts, “Warhead Ritual” brings in a slight change of pace with its militaristic approach in the riffs and deep echoing vocals to enhance it all. Then, ending it all is the appropriately titled “Chainsaw Lullaby,” stagnantly structured in terms of vocal constancy, making it feel like a violent poetic bloodbath that could be a great soundtrack piece to a Texas Chainsaw Massacre film.
As far as the term ‘supergroup’ is concerned, Bloodbath takes on a more permanent and unified vibe with its execution, even though members have rotated positions and continued their importance in their main gigs. The point is, Bloodbath never goes undermined from the other bands. Bloodbath is in full force once again and, with Old Nick (Nick Holmes) returning for his second consecutive album with the band, they are as strong as ever. Churning the magic potion into the cauldron with sinister conviction, Bloodbath is a necessary evil in the world of European Extreme Death Metal, and The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn is no exception. That is why CrypticRock gives this highly anticipated album 4 out of 5 stars.