Sicktus : Disclaimer: this will be a bit of a rambling kinda review. For those of you looking for a song-by-song review: I’m not your go-to guy for those. Buy sheet music. But, spoiler warning: I do like ‘The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn’.
Right. Off we go. It has been four years since everyone and their mother were going bonkers about ‘Grand Morbid Funeral’ (2014), which I thought was a damn decent OSDM album. And even though it has been four years, it doesn’t take more than, say, half a minute of ‘The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn’ to know you’re dealing with the new Bloodbath. The all destructing HM-2 buzz-saw guitar, pummelling drums, relentless drive, the characteristic, well articulate-yet-raspy ‘Uncle Nick’ vocals (which I really dig, by the way) and the big production pretty much give that away.
It does however take some time for the album to really make me shake my fist at random things and grin madly – which obviously is the reaction to a good dose of ye olde schola death metal. Well, for me anyway. But feck me, I’m rambling already and this is just the intro, where I introduce the band. Which I won’t, ‘cause, well, Bloodbath. You know them. They are kind of a big thing, you know?
Right. A new Bloodbath. It is pummelling. It is grooving. Even swinging, at times (‘Deader’). But in a punishing way. Dirty. Rotten. Has an almost continuous drive, a relentless push forward, a 40-something minute power punch of energy, rage, passion, packed in a big, heavy production, which really emphasizes, even celebrating the riff, yet gives room for all the instruments, details and leads to share some of the limelight. So it has that going for it, which is nice.
Yet: does this album blow me away? Well, yeah, no, it does and at the same time doesn’t – but, and here’s the thing, that both is and isn’t on Bloodbath... Why? Well, let me explain. Remember a little EP called ‘Breeding Death’? Yeah, the debut from 2000. I know, I know, that was supposed to be a one off thing, yet they build a pretty neat career on top of that – not that these guys needed any more careers, having been on top of the genre with their other bands, but... Well, I digress again. What I mean to say is: this album does not knock my socks off like ‘Breeding Death’ did – and that is because (in part) to that awesome EP, we have gotten a revival of oldschool death metal that is going on for... Well, almost longer than the original heydays, come to think of it. And therefore, we have heard so many, many great albums and EP’s since then, that, well, it has gotten so much harder to blow someone’s socks off, hasn’t it? And I blame Bloodbath for putting the bar so damn high, that a – and I will repeat myself here – damn decent oldschool death metal album like this just... Kind of gets taken for granted. This in a weird roundabout way is a compliment to Bloodbath in itself.
Should you buy this album? Well, if I have anything to say about it – which I don’t, but hey... Yes, if you love your death metal of the oldschool Swedish style, if you like the previous albums: go and buy it. But don’t just take my word for it, check out the ’Bloodicide’ video and judge for yourself. A track which by the way features guest vocals by Jeff Walker (Carcass), Karl Willetts (Memoriam, ex-Bolt Thrower) and John Walker (Cancer). Not too shabby! Oh, and while we are on personnel: Bloodbath still is Blakkheim on guitars, Martin Axenrot on drums, Jonas Renske on bass and Nick Holmes on vocals, the only lineup change since ‘Grand Morbid Funeral’ is Joakim Karlsson (Craft) coming in to replace Per Eriksson on guitars. ‘The Arrow Of Satan Is Drawn’: a lyrical and musical comment on the rotten state of the world. Damn. Decent. Death metal.