Active since: 1998
Label: Peaceville Records
Genre(s): Old school death metal
For fans of: Dismember, Entombed, Grave, Autopsy, Morbid Angel
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“The Arrow of Satan is Drawn”
Swedish old school death metal group Bloodbath has been a constant in my playlist for many years. One reason is that the band has released a lot of quality death metal over the years. Another is that it’s an all-star project that has included many of my favorite Swedish metal musicians. “The Arrow of Satan Is Drawn” is Bloodbath’s fifth full-length, the second to feature Paradise Lost singer Nick Holmes on vocals.
Previous album “Grand Morbid Funeral” was a 7/10 for me, and the vocal performance from Nick Holmes was highly debated. I thought the raspy, morbid vocal delivery was OK, but it often found itself drenched in the powerful chainsaw guitars. I agreed to some extent; his delivery needed more power. “Grand Morbid Funeral” did have a grotesque guitar tone though, and I still find myself jamming the better tracks like “Anne”, “Unite in Pain” and “Famine of God’s Word”. Let’s see if “The Arrow of Satan is Drawn” can improve on it.
Bloodicide, deader and deadest?
The songtitles are humorously brutal this time around. “Bloodicide” and “Deader” are solid competitors for most ridicilous Bloodbath title. It’s also instantly noticeable how the band is trying to move for a more nasty, messy sound. The guitar tone is great, absolutely plummeling the speakers without sounding too much like generic Swedish death metal.
However, great isn’t a word I would use to describe the music style and songwriting. Almost instantly, I had some issues with the lack of structure and the violent shifts between old school and new school aesthetics. Some songs are so basic and groove-based that they sound like Autopsy or Death Breath. Others harken back to the blastbeat fury of “Nightmares Made Flesh”. In the end, it’s all a tad disjointed.
There are plenty of cool moves on guitars and drums, and there’s no debating that the musicians in Bloodbath are ridicilously skilled. I just find myself lacking a common thread in the sound of the different songs and overall vibe of the album. The lack of attention in the songwriting department reminds me of my least favorite Bloodbath album “The Fathomless Mastery”.
“The Arrow of Satan is Drawn” tracklist
3. Wayward Samaritan
6. March of the Crucifers
7. Morbid Antichrist
8. Warhead Ritual
9. Only the Dead Survive
10. Chainsaw Lullaby
Improved vocal delivery
Vocally, Nick Holmes improves quite a lot on his “Grand Morbid Funeral” performance. There is more power on this one and he also benefits from the more obscure-sounding music style. Nick sounds most at home in the slower and groovy numbers, like “Only the Dead Survive”, “Leviatator” and “Chainsaw Lullaby”. These are also the songs that has been most effective for me.
I never thought I’d accuse Bloodbath, uncrowned kings of death metal hooks, of this, but the songs on “The Arrow of Satan is Drawn” aren’t all that catchy. This is very surprising to me and a fact that makes the band stand out a whole lot less. “Chainsaw Lullaby” is the only song that frequently popped up in my head after listening to the album.
The weakest Bloodbath album to date
It saddens me to say it, but I think “The Arrow of Satan is Drawn” is the weakest disc in the Bloodbath discography so far. It’s a decent old school death metal throwback, but it doesn’t really rise above other similar acts like Bæst, Lik and Demonical.