Despite being established as Death Metal stalwarts, and already perhaps even close to attaining legendary status, the road for Bloodbath has often been seemingly a little bit bumpy. Admittedly a band that wasn’t always the main priority for its various members, over their time Bloodbath has had to lurk in the shadows waiting for busy schedules of to align. With alumni from the likes of Katatonia and Opeth, and more recently Paradise Lost, it has meant live shows are a rarity and album release schedules somewhat inconsistent. However, with Katatonia now on hiatus, it feels like Bloodbath can become a more prominent concern, which certainly seems evident with the fact that The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn (Peaceville) is quite possibly their most vibrant and strongest effort to date.
Bloodbath was always intended as an outlet for the members’ (completed by Old Nick, “Axe”nrot, Joakim, Lord Seth and Blakkheim) love for old school Death Metal as opposed to reinventing the wheel, and so TAOSID isn’t necessarily an obvious evolution on any particular formula, nor does it bring forth radical ideas. The main noticeable strength here, though, in comparison to their previous albums is a raised sense of cohesiveness in the lineup, a greater sense of freedom and less pressure than before. This being Old Nick’s (Nick Holmes) second album with the band he, in particular, feels more settled and adopts a greater prominence this time around, fuelled as much by a sense of theatre as he is pure bile and viciousness.
Speaking of viciousness, TAOSID’s focus on real world issues and the seemingly inevitable march to humanity’s self-induced demise gives the album a more increased and believable sense of rage and despair, which in turn is delivered by some of the band’s in your face song writing. From the intense opening of ‘Fleischmann’ and the fast paced ‘Morbid Antichrist’ to the dirtier and brooding ‘Levitator’, the atmosphere of imminent chaos and anguish at the world state seems to have lit a fire in their bellies like never before.
Death Metal in 2018 is in arguably its rudest health for many years with an underground bedrock absolutely thriving in creativity and new ideas as well as building upon foundations already set by legends, but as Bloodbath have shown here, its wizened veterans still possess plenty of venom in their bite. The Arrow of Satan… is Bloodbath sounding more vital and important than they have ever sounded, all the while achieving that balance between aggressive underground spirit and pure fun. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, a genre highlight for the year.