Thursday 28 November 2019

Entombed A.D. - Bowels of Earth (2019)

Country: Sweden
Style: Death 'n' Roll
Rating: 6/10
Release Date: 30 Aug 2019
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While I drifted away from the rock scene in the early nineties, I did notice Entombed, whose 1990 Left Hand Path album was a pivotal death metal release and who demonstrated a will to evolve musically on their third studio album, Wolverine Blues, in 1993. Of the current Entombed A.D. line-up, only vocalist Lars-Göran Petrov was with Entombed at that point, but this band formed out of that one, after they split up in 2014. Founder member Alex Hellid had the rights to the name, so everyone else formed Entombed A.D. to continue their work in the death 'n' roll style.

I don't believe I've reviewed a death 'n' roll album yet at Apocalypse Later and I do know that Entombed A.D. don't particularly care for the genre name. I get that because they're just playing death metal in a different way, like their home town scene in Stockholm had a different sound to Gothenburg, over on the other side of Sweden.

To me, this just feels more rooted in hardcore punk than other Swedish death metal, even though it all was. It's more obvious in the sound, which amps up the bass and aims more for bounce than riffs, not only through the very punk drum sound. It makes sense for the cover on the limited edition to be of an unusual Motörhead song, because they were always as punk as they were metal too.

This is the third album for Entombed A.D., the fourth if you count the final Entombed album, Serpent Saints: The Ten Amendments, on which three quarters of this band performed, and I haven't heard the others, but it took a while for me to get on board with it. It sounded good from the very beginning but it didn't sound memorable until the title track kicked off like a piano with a lifelong dream to really be a music box, something it does at other points throughout the song.

Regardless of whether Petrov's guttural but intelligible vocal delivery has you grinning or not, Bowels of Earth chugs along on wonderfully. The guitar interplay is excellent, as is the solo, and the drums feel a lot more alive. The dynamics when the loud metal and quiet piano alternate are a lot of fun. There's a lot in this song and it's all good. Going back for a fresh listen, Hell is My Home has some strong sections too, but this album really begins for me with the title track.

It doesn't hurt that the next song is even more fun. It's Bourbon Nightmare and it kicks off with a mariachi intro. This is where Petrov's vocals work best, because they're enthusiastic but relatively monotone and this song is full of punk urgency. It's like a fifties rock 'n' roll number performed by a band of highly dextrous cavemen with nothing on their mind except rocking out with every instrument downtuned, including vocals. It's the opposite of subtle and that's absolutely fine.

From then on, this felt good to me, kind of like DOA as a death metal band. Listening to Petrov with punk in mind rather than metal, suddenly his vocals make sense. Perhaps that's why these songs work at three minutes and change but don't work as well at a longer length. To Eternal Night isn't bad, for instance, but it's almost six minutes long and that's too long for a style like this. It doesn't allow for a lot of imagination.

Entombed A.D. are a metal band, so they're more than happy to go with guitar solos, but their effect is punk and so they can only get away with so many of them before they turn back into a death metal band. For now, I'm happy a pair of Entombeds are stalking around Stockholm, but I wonder if either of them is going to grow much from here.

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