Album: The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn
Genre: Death Metal
Review by Steve Jenkins
Swedish extreme metal band, Bloodbath, are probably the most loved and respected among the death metal community as far as super-groups are concerned. They've taken influences from their music heroes and in turn many new death metal bands have taken influence from Bloodbath, go figure. Since their incarnation. the band have managed to keep together most of the instrumentalists, but they just couldn’t settle on a vocalist. There was the constant flip-flopping between Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth and Peter Tagtgren of Hypocrisy, and it eventually became so tedious that the band went on hiatus in 2012. Finally, in 2014, Bloodbath revealed their new frontman as Nick Holmes of Paradise Lost, and have released a second album with Old Nick, titled The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn. This is their second LP in four years, so how does it compare to past releases and their previous effort, Grand Morbid Funeral? Let's find out.
The first thing you’ll notice about The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn is the production style. Following up on the more concise production from The Fathomless Mastery, which is my eyes is almost a perfect death metal record, the mix on the album is both raw and clear. It greatly resembles the style seen on classic Swedish death metal albums such as Entombed’s Left Hand Path, with the heavily distorted guitar riffs and bass becoming so entwined that they resemble the buzzing of chainsaws. At the same time, though, the sound of the lead guitar and drums ring out very distinctly, leaving no room for ambient background noise or other lower production values.
However, there are two glaring problems with The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn. Firstly, vocalist Nick Holmes is, sadly, the weakest link on the album. His growls are by no means unbearable, but they don’t have any unique qualities to them. Mikael’s deep, bellowing roars and Peter’s tenacious snarling were both easily recognizable and stood out amongst other death metal vocalists. Nick hasn’t really done harsh vocals in Paradise Lost for a while now, and it shows. However, the biggest detractor is the fact that as dynamic as Bloodbath is, there’s no particular standout tracks on The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn. Sure, the album flows together very well, but at the end of the day, you won’t be able to remember most of the song titles or even be able to tell the tracks apart from one another. At least their previous work had some memorable tracks like “Eaten” which is arguably the most catchiest death metal song ever about cannibalism and “Mock The Cross”. Here, it feels like the entire album is just one really long death metal song.
But even in spite of all that, The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn does end up getting the job done. You see, even though there’s nothing on here that you haven’t already heard before, Bloodbath does it all so well that you can’t help but get a little lost in it. Truth be told, at this point in time, you can't really expect anything too surprising or refreshing from the band. Yet, The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn works just fine for what it is: a nostalgia trip into the tombs of old school death metal. It's no Fathomless Mastery or Nightmares Made Flesh, but it's a pretty solid death metal offering that even ventures into some death 'n' roll territory which I could get into. Definitely worth checking out.
7.5 out of 10.