Review: Bloodbath’s Winning Streak Continues with The Arrow of Satan Is Drawn
It’s too bad that the title Death Magnetic was already taken — it would have fitting for The Arrow of Satan Is Drawn, the fifth full-length from he rightfully-lauded supergroup Bloodbath (Katatonia, Paradise Lost, Opeth, etc.). Give it your full attention, and you will love it. Put even if you just put it on in the background while you try to do something else, it will pull you away from that other activity like a cartoon animal involuntarily drawn to the smell of a food. And then you will love it.
The recipe for Bloodbath’s success? Uh… pretty much everything. The riffs aren’t just tasty, they’re downright delicious. The structure of each song achieves a near perfect verse : chorus : other shit ratios. The lyrics are characteristically droll, assuming you appreciate some good gallows humor (justifying murder as a charitable act on “Wayward Samaritan”: “There’s nothing better than to help those in need/ You cannot suffer if you cannot bleed”). And all of it is slathered in the perfect amount of reverby crunch to boot (props to Karl Daniel Liden, who produced the album with the band).
The result is a whole lotta death metal that is at once aggro and fun. From the melodeath anthem “Fleischmann” to the UKDM celebration “Bloodicide” (featuring an Unholy Trinity of guests: Carcass’ Jeff Walker, Bolt Thrower’s Karl Willetts, and Cancer’s John Walker) to the mid-paced elephants marcher “Levitator” to the Cannibal Corpse worshipping “March of the Crucifers” to the evil and elastic “Warhead Ritual” Bloodbath prove themselves again and again to be masters of hitting that aural sweet spot that just makes you wanna headbang ’til your head flies off.
Which isn’t to say the album is perfect. The strength of the first eight songs only serves to highlight the relative weaknesses of the last two, the militaristic “Only the Dead Survive” and nasty album closer “Chainsaw Lullaby.” Neither one is a bad song; like I said, they just pale in comparison to their brethren. They each feel a bit repetitive and, save for the crushing semi-breakdown at the 2:40 mark in “Chainsaw,” neither is as instantly memorable as the rest of the material on the album.
If this grand finale feels a little anti-climatic, Bloodbath have no to blame but themselves. They set the bar so high on most of The Arrow of Satan Is Drawn that they can’t quite clear it by the end. Every metal band should have such problems.