After four years since the previous release, Bloodbath’s latest album ‘The Arrow of Satan is Drawn’ sees Nick Holmes (Paradise Lost) return as ‘Old Nick’ for his second outing since replacing Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt as lead vocalist. This new album, the band’s fifth full-length offering, pummels hard with hard ’n’ heavy chugging, plenty of riffage and searing solo work. Drawing from global current affairs of recent years, The Arrow of Satan is Drawn is an ode to the world’s state of madness, chaos, horror and disease. Essentially this release is an expression of “the ills of the world around us in 10 songs”.
The opener, ‘Fleischmann’, is full of dissonant, horror-tinged tones and features some unsettling, clanging guitar arpeggios with a warm, low-end hum of the bass guitar, which adds a weighty, meaty feel throughout this release.
Second track ‘Bloodicide’ instantly kicks off with some killer riffage and is the perfect choice for their first promotional single to be released prior to the album’s launch. This song is so hooky that it’s been on heavy rotation since being made available to stream online. Some of the main highlights here are the chaotic, pounding rhythms, a plentiful supply of atmosphere and a couple of incredible break-downs featuring powerful, chugging guitars that growl ferociously with a sinister, darkened tone. Leaving the best ’til last, just wait for the multiple Brit-filled guest vocal line-up – ready?
We have not one, but three guest vocalists – Jeff Walker of Carcass, Karl Willetts of Bolt Thrower and John Walker of Cancer… the vox cherry on top of an already impressive instrumental backdrop.
Next up, ’Wayward Samaritan’ blends genres to create a Blackened style of Thrash with distinct, heavily driven Death Metal overtones. Melodically this is one of the more simplistic tracks, which sees it becoming less memorable and not so enjoyable compared to the more brutal and technical offerings. On the other hand, ‘Levitator’ changes pace with its sludgy Doom-laden opening, before momentarily picking up the pace into a chaotic swirl of riffs and thunderous percussion. Two thirds in Blakkheim & Joakim deliver some great riffing and squealing solo work, along with Old Nick’s coarse, deep and gravelly vocals complimenting the tone extremely well.
‘Deader’ quickens the pace with an opening roar to emphasise the swirling opening passage. Thunderous kicks really punch through the mix on this track and the momentary atmospheric sections set up the psychotic chorus. This one has some serious replay value. Following this, we go from a quickened pace to outright relentless, as ‘March of the Crucifiers’ features some seriously twisted, psychedelic synths and furious, vitriolic choruses for maximum filth.
Another personal highlight, the punchy, bludgeoning opening of ‘Morbid Antichrist’ really pummels hard, whilst the verses grind along at a slow pace, contrasting the choruses, which run at double time. The subtle choral passages add plenty of atmosphere, providing an esoteric, otherworldly quality.
‘Warhead Ritual’ begins with an atmospheric intro before switching to an up-tempo pace, killer riffs and a handful of rhythm changes with a Thrashy vibe. The chorus is particularly catchy and one that I imagine would get a good chant-along at live shows.
The penultimate track of the album ‘Only the Dead Survive’ keeps pace, but with the return of the heavily blackened tone and featuring synchronised machine-gun chugs & kicks. A grinding instrumental break mid-way through provides a brief reprieve, adding in some reverb’d guitar trilling for atmosphere. Towards the close the chaos rises again for a ferocious final minute of the track – snare rolls to close
Closing the album is classic slasher horror-inspired ‘Chainsaw Lullaby’, which unleashes a musical chainsaw massacre on the listener. This is the band simply having a bit of horror-inspired, splatterhouse-style fun… and why the hell not?!
Even the music video (see below) is a throwback to the old 80s Betamax & VHS video-nasty era of horror movies. Palace Video would be proud!
Essentially what you get with ‘The Arrow of Satan is Drawn’ is oldschool, hard-hitting Death Metal at the core, with tinges of Black, Thrash & Doom stylings for added interest and variety. Attention to detail is obvious and the rich, meaty production really pays off, especially Lord Seth’s warm, low-end bass guitar hum permeating through the mix of practically every track. The guttural, growly vocals of Old Nick, complimented by Blakkheim & Joakim on guitars and of course Axe obliterating the drums are all outstanding in their own right. This truly is a supergroup of skilled musicians honing their craft and once again they don’t disappoint.
Bloodicide (official lyrics video)
Chainsaw Lullaby (official music video)
Release Date: 26th October 2018
Band Website: http://bloodbath.biz
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