Despite changing personnel over the years, Bloodbath have always remained true to their "death metal supergroup" tag. I mean, they've previously been fronted by three Swedish metal luminaries - Dan Swanö; Peter Tägtgren; and Mikael Åkerfeldt. And, since 2014, Paradise Lost's Nick Holmes has been growling his way through their output. Founding members, Katatonia's Jonas Renkse and Anders "Blakkheim" Nyström remain on bass and guitar respectively, and Opeth sticksman Martin Axenrot still occupies the drum stool. Craft's Joakim Karlsson completes the band's slightly revised lineup, being newly recruited on guitar this year.
So, yep, Bloodbath's supergroup status is healthily intact with that lineup and, with Katatonia seemingly on ice for the time being and no announcements about their future apparently imminent (but please come back, Katatonia, we all love you!), it's paved the way for Renkse and Nyström to craft this darkly death beauty alongside their Bloodbath brethren. 'The Arrow of Satan is Drawn' is studio album number five, a follow-up to 2014's 'Grand Morbid Funeral', and it's a winner.
With Bloodbath starting out as a tribute to old school death, they've progressed beyond those roots to become an autonomous death metal beast in their own right. 'The Arrow of Satan is Drawn' continues that journey into glorious sonic darkness with a work that has old school nods, but one that also provides a colossal slap of here and now brutality; one that feels like a cathartic antidote to the crazy and scarily unstable world we've all found ourselves living within. In fact, Nyström's quoted in press blurb as stating the album is supposed to reflect, "Humanity’s unfaltering march prone towards downfall." In that sense, it does its job to perfection. It feels like an unrelenting, yet refined and perfecty conceived, descent into gloom and despair, but one that provides purgative potential to revel in all its sonically filthy majesty. After all, this still feels like entertainment. More so on pieces like 'Warhead Ritual' and album closer 'Chainsaw Lullaby', that incorporate moments of groove-infused, death 'n' roll.
Notably, there are vocal guest spots from Carcass frontman, Jeff Walker; Bolt Thrower's growler, Karl Willetts; and John Walker from reactivate British deathsters, Cancer (... and Nyström has a guest solo spot on their new album). So, all in all, 'The Arrow of Satan is Drawn' is something of a death metal connoisseur's wet dream. A fucked-up, filthy, and downright disturbingly dark wet dream, but, yeah, this is something to get truly excited about for fans for blackened death metal. Drummer Axe told me during an interview eight years ago that, "We try to just have fun with it. It wasn’t a plan to be the best death metal band ever"... but it seems they have become one of the very best in 2018. And here's the proof right here, with 'The Arrow of Satan is Drawn'. Brilliant stuff!
THE ARROW OF SATAN IS DRAWN
Review by Mark Holmes
26th October 2018
3) Wayward Samaritan
6) March of the Crucifiers
7) Morbid Antichrist
8) Warhead Ritual
9) Only the Dead Survive
10) Chainsaw Lullaby
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...a work that has old school nods, but one that also provides a colossal slap of here and now brutality; one that feels like a cathartic antidote to the crazy and scarily unstable world we've all found ourselves living within."