Entombed is a Swedish Death Metal band that started releasing music in the early 90s. I have listened to this album before but only once. I remember enjoying it. Unfortunately, there is a reason for reviewing it. A couple of days ago, their frontman and vocalist LG Petrov passed away due to complications of cancer. To celebrate the life of Petrov, I decided to revisit this album and hopefully become curious enough to visit future projects of the band.
Before entering the depths of this album, lets talk about the historical background in additional to my personal experience to Entombed. Prior to this release, Swedish metal wasn’t extinct. In fact there were two major bands. Sweden both Brought Black Metal pioneers Bathory and Doom Metal heavyweights Candlemass. It wasn’t like death Metal was extinct as well because the founding fathers of Death Metal were starting to develop in the late 80s. Artists like Death,Morbid Angel and Autopsy were taking thrash metal structures and grind core riffs to make something very aggressive and fast-paced but more intricately structured. Other than some bands that followed like Bolt Thrower and Carcass, Death Metal was a Unites States exclusive. Majority of the pioneers. With that being said, there were no prevalent death metal acts from Sweden. Entombed combined both their Swedish metal contemporaries and created a sound that was a gloomy and dark rendition of the Death Metal acts of the United States.
A unique thing about Entombed and Death Metal in general is that its uniquely structured. A lot of the tracks contain a lot of tempo changes, lots of riff changes and even more drum beat changes. It’s less like songs and more like mini ideas combined into once cohesive 4 minute block. Just like a lot of other death metal albums at the time, there are tracks that give extremely unique passages that don’t show up in death metal. For instance the opening track around the halfway point goes into this synth breakdown that could end up in a John Carpenter film score. On the last track, I’m not lying when I say that Petrov’s vocals are like the Call Of Duty zombies. Listen for yourself. There is also a lot of subtle differences too. Songs like “When Life Has Ceased” and the aforementioned title track have instrumental breakdowns that go damn near doom metal territory. Songs like “Drowned” and “Morbid Devourment” have a lot quick, thrashy instrumental jams. Thats not it either. The tempo changes, riff changes and more are done so quickly and often, every song averages like 4 tempo changes a song. There is like 4 different riffs and every once in a while there is a subtle tone change too. Entombed really tried to perfect the craft when it came to Death Metal and the songwriting proves it.
If I had to describe Petrov’s vocal style in one word, it would be monstrous. His vocal style sure has obvious influences such as Chuck Schuldiner, James Hetfield and Tom Araya but there are a lot of details in his voice that quite unique. For instance his death growl isn’t super deep and brooding. His growl is more like a roar than anything sounding like a hungry lion. His vocal performance also has a little more phlegmy growl that would be perfected in future black metal vocalists. At first, I wasn’t extremely big on his vocal performance as it wasn’t as bold and versatile as lets say a Chuck Schuldiner but overtime I grew to like it a lot as it compliments the music perfectly.
One thing that makes this album unique its is use of their two guitarists Uffe Cedurland and Alex Hellin. Together they create unique riffs inspired by their influences of doom, thrash and black metal. The highlight of their guitar work usually happens at the end of the track. They have shred-offs. Together they show off their unique tone differences while showcases their talent in shredding. It’s not like shredding that is just for the sake of shredding. Their shredding is proficient and goes up and down the fretboard frequently. For a guitar based album, they truly emphasize the death metal playbook for the future that was yet to come.
There isn’t that much I can say about this album negatively. Except for a couple small things. Sometimes the production on this album can be a little muddy and wet. Other than that, its what I usually have with death metal records. Theres no song or idea that continues for long enough. It’s something that helps yet ruins the listening experience. At the end of the day though, my cons are minor and don’t really affect my from loving this album.
I’m so glad I came back to this album. It’s one of the most forward thinking and formulaic death metal records I’ve heard and something that ill listen to a lot more in the near future.