The most iconic death metal supergroup, Bloodbath, just released their new effort “The Arrow of Satan Is Drawn” and is just about to embark on a European tour alongside Dimmu Borgir, Kreator and Hatebreed. Anders “Blakkheim” Nyström was kind enough to answer some questions about touring, writing process and some other stuff.
Hi Anders, I’m Giuseppe from MetalPit.it, thank you for your time! As I’m writing, the release date of “The Arrow of Satan Is Drawn” is approaching: how are things going at the Bloodbath headquarters?
All good thanks! Getting ready to hit the road in about a week…
The songs are pretty straightforward, of course, but despite their short length there are some more intricate passages. What was the writing process for this album like?
Well, things are a little different with Bloodbath as we never jam or write as a full band. Instead, we let every member write individually at the discretion of everyone’s leisure. We only really rehearse when changing the setlist for a live show and not even before recording an album. The writing and recording process basically commence when everyone drops “beta versions” of early demos into a collective shared folder, ready to take a bullet of constructive criticism from the whole band! A lot of small, intricate changes then take place over time until the songs develop into final and complete demos and these versions are what make up the foundation for the album recording when we hit the studio. Then the album recording is spread into sessions, spread out over the lapse of months. For instance, the drums on this album were recorded in February, the guitars in May, the vocals in June and the album was mixed in July.
Considering that this is the second effort with Nick Holmes on vocals, were there any differences in the dynamics between him and the rest of the band, compared to the creative process of “Grand Morbid Funeral”?
I think the creative process and dynamics have evolved. We’ve spent a couple of years playing live now and know what is required, what works better and what to avoid. Before “Grand Morbid Funeral”, we hadn’t worked together, at all. Nick kinda stepped in for the first time when it was time to do vocals and I don’t believe he had even heard all the songs prior to that. This time he actually sang on demos before we entered the studio and we collaborated on a few lyrics and made sure everyone was on the same page as far as concepts and imagery. I’d say that Nick is really “in the zone” these days. He’s been delivering the growling style so frequently that it has become his second language again, like the early days.
One track that comes to attention just by reading its details is, of course, “Bloodicide”. I was expecting the guests to be a bit more involved, but I have to say that the result is pretty good. How did this collaboration come to life?
Our plan was always to have three guests singing one line each on the chorus with Nick closing, nothing more, nothing less. Being old friends that go way back in death metal history together, Nick simply asked if they would be up for doing some guest appearances on one of our songs and much to our humble gratitude, they accepted our request. It was all done quickly and effortless through file sharing online, so they weren’t physically with us at our recording studio, although that would have been a very cool experience, undoubtedly a 90’s thing.
Both the album title and the artwork are pretty enigmatic. Can you explain these two aspects of this work?
Well, it certainly turned out different and far away from the standard cover you can see every day in the death metal bins. In short, the artwork is the painter’s interpretation of our album title that Nick came up with. It’s actually a lyric line from a song on the album and it instantly distinguished itself to with great emphasis to be crowned as the album title! These words are expressed as an instigation, an unholy declaration that should leave you with a brooding feeling of uncertainty. The cover artwork boosts that imagination and wraps it up with a visual representation.
From time to time, I find myself returning to “The Wacken Carnage”, a great live album which was also your first live appearance. Also, it was stated that it could be the last live appearance: did you think, at the time, that the band would be still running thirteen years after, with a huge live activity?
Well, I clearly remember that when we agreed to play Wacken back in 2005 we were saying how cool wouldn’t it be if that was gonna be both our first and last gig. Actually, we managed to keep it like that for a couple of years, but then the offers started coming in and the line-up changed and we ended up reconsidering our outlook on live activities. It’s hard to predict anything with Bloodbath, there are never any plans made further ahead than the year we’re in. We’re all dependent on finding gaps, so there’s still a big doze of spontaneity left. We’re in it for the reward, the entertainment and the nostalgia of trippin’ down death metal memory lane.
Bloodbath is by now an established touring band, what was the turning point from a fun, studio project to this?
I think that fire was lit around 2008 when we did “Unblessing The Purity”, we really wanted to hit the stage with the new material, but I think the real turning point came around 2015 when we decided to play as many festivals as possible. It really opened up the doors to regular live activities.
Katatonia is temporarily on hold: of course the other guys’ bands are busy with stuff, but can we expect some more intense activity from Bloodbath or will you dedicate yourselves to other stuff? Jonas, for example, has put out a great track with The Ocean…
At the moment I don’t really know what the future holds… There’s a lot of stuff I wanna do, but I gotta make sure all the engine is well oiled and all the wheels are rolling before setting off, so to speak.
As far as I can remember, you haven’t come to Italy much, if not at all, and this December you’re coming here as well with Kreator and Dimmu Borgir. It’s a fairly diverse lineup, what are you expecting from this tour?
Yeah, it’ll be our first time in Italy. It’s a big tour, big venues and tickets are selling really well, so there’ll be big crowds as well. The touring bill is musically very diverse and we’re excited to represent the death metal genre and deliver it the Swedish old school way.
Of course you travelled here a lot with Katatonia: would you share a memory of yours related to our country?
Yeah, we’ve been there so many times through the years. Italy was the first country I experienced the audience singing along with the guitars instead of the lyrics, and it was loud! Like a surreal choir! It almost felt like being at a soccer game, but it was just about music and not a ball, very powerful experience for a young guy out on his first tour. We also used to have an Italian label back in the early days, so we established a strong connection with Italy early on.
That’s all, thank you again for your time! Please feel free to use this space to say anything you want to our readers!
Salute! Bellissimo! Ciao!