I’m becoming a slightly self conscious reviewer these days.
It’s just that, well, I’ve noticed some trends developing in my reviews. Firstly, they’re becoming increasingly personal, and use the word ‘I’ a lot.
Secondly, they usually start with some great big history lesson about the bands that influenced the release in question and the history of that particular subgenre, or in some cases the whole frikking history of heavy music.
So it’s in this new spirit of self awareness that I approach my next review: The Tomb Awaits by Entrails. And that kind of makes things difficult. Because, let’s face it, Entrails are basically a rip off of one of my favourite bands of all time – Entombed.
A good friend of mine who goes by the name of Felix Threepaper (you may have read some of his work) recently asked me to name my top five favourite bands of all time. This is, in itself, an interesting question.
Firstly because there’s nothing a bloke likes more than ranking things. The whole fantasy sports phenomenon is a testament to this – it’s all about ranking the players you think will perform best in any given season or week, and it’s now a worldwide phenomenon.
Secondly because it’s such a personal question. It’s purely subjective. It’s not like ‘Top 5 Most Influential Bands’, or ‘Top 5 Best Guitarists’ or some other question which can be objectively discussed, argued and debated. No, this is purely about personal taste. Who are my favourite bands – not ranked according to their technical proficiency, live performances or anything else, just who do I most enjoy listening to?
The first three on the list pretty much picked themselves: Black Sabbath, Metallica and Slayer. But the other two are slightly nichey, and not exactly household names: Helmet and, you guessed it, Entombed.
A quote from my highly recommended bible of Swedish Death Metal pretty much sums up my views of them: “During 1989-1994, Entombed was one of the best bands in the world”.
So what made Entombed so bloody great? Well, for starters, so many bands have spent their lives searching for a new sound but never really found anything, but not Entombed.
The sound they made in that Stockholm studio out of their pissy little Peavey amp is now the stuff of legend, and went on to define a whole new genre. The whole planets-crashing-together thing. The whole DOOM-in-mile-high-letters thing. The whole turn-it-up-loud-and-feel-as-if-your-soul-is-being-pushed-through-a-meat-grinder thing. The whole so-dense-it-makes-a-neutron-star-seem-like-a-delicate-soufflé thing. It was a sound that saturated every frequency in your eardrum and made your innards shake.
If you want to know more about the setup and playing style that was required to get “that” sound I can recommend this (quite lengthy) tutorial clip. I love the enthusiasm of this guy.
But it wasn’t just the sound.
Even in their earliest stuff, when they were still called Nihilist and were producing tinny sounding demos, there was an inherent groove that underlaid even their most vicious songs. Sure there was plenty of that every-beat snare drum thrash, but pretty much every song had a section where they busted out into some massive, swinging riff.
And while Nicke Andersson wasn’t the fastest or most technically proficient drummer in comparison to other death metal drummers at the time, he hit the drums hard, particularly the kick drum, and injected the groove into the rhythms. Some of the faster death drummers had to kiss the power and groove goodbye, because playing too fast takes away the space for a powerful kick drum.
OK, so that’s over 600 words and two clips now and I’ve hardly mentioned the album I’m actually reviewing.
It’s called The Tomb Awaits by Entrails, in case you’ve forgotten. Entrails made my Top 5 List last year, and for good reason. My eardrums hadn’t been piqued like that since Clandestine in 1991.
So it’s a quick turnaround from their previous album, but they were mostly old songs anyway so I guess they had a few more in the chamber. They grabbed Dan Swanö from Bloodbath to do the production here, and he definitely makes it sound more modern. More like… well, Bloodbath.
This means there’s a bit more sustain in the guitars, and it’s not quite so low and gritty as Tales From The Morgue, but that kick drum is still there in spades, and if anything it might even have a little more oomph to it.
There are some subtle variations from the Entombed theme from time to time. For example, there are some Metallica-style harmonics in the leads. And whereas reading Entombed lyrics made you feel as if you might have stumbled upon some lost pages of the Necronomicon, these lyrics are cartoonish and clichéd, like some long forgotten screenplay by Sam Raimi.
Let me quickly post you a song before I wrap things up. This song is called Undead, and is about being trapped in a cemetery trying to escape a bunch of zombies who have begun digging themselves up from the grave. Note the Metallica influence in the solos around the 1:50 mark. The whole thing is just so unexpectedly catchy, and I think that’s a good thing.
So that’s it. It’s as derivative as hell but makes no bones about it and does it well. If you were a fan of that Swedish death metal sound then you’ll definitely dig this. If you’re not then you are ignorant and you should go away immediately.