REVIEW: ENTOMBED A.D. – “Dead Dawn”
Swedish death metal is a truly formidable force, having spawned the likes of Entombed, Dismember, Grave, and several other bands. After Entombed’s run of critically-acclaimed records like ‘Left Hand Path’ and ‘Wolverine Blues’, their disbanding gave rise to Entombed A.D. With their legacy rooted firmly in old school Swedish death metal, Entombed A.D. are ready to unleash their second studio album ‘Dead Dawn’.
First, it makes sense to ask this question: what on earth is good old-school death metal? Is it the guttural growls, the sharp riffs, and the pounding drums, or is it the feeling that a song reeks of, which is pure anguish and horror? In most cases, the answer is the latter, but ‘Dead Dawn’ captures all these elements and smashes them into a beautiful mess. Entombed A.D.’s 2014 album ‘Back to the Front’ introduced the band’s interpretation of this concept to fans, but they seem to have almost perfected the formula on the new record.
Straight from the “death n’ roll” stampede of the opening track “Midas in Reverse”, the band delivers a high-octane performance all the way to the closing tracks “Black Survival” and “Not What It Seems”. From the first song, Nico Elgstrand’s guitar-riffing takes centre-stage and guides the band forward, weaving through tracks gracefully without losing intensity. The production is noticeably crystal-clear, leaving the songs are allowed to bask in their riffs without sounding like an absolute cacophony. However, this takes something away from that same cacophony that a lot of death metal warrants.
Lars-Goran Petrov’s vocal delivery is commendable – his death metal vocals tie in well with the guitars and are relatively more comprehensible than your average death metal band. His straightforward style also allows the band to achieve the ‘roll’ part of their “death n’ roll” style, as the simple grooves are not broken down into smaller, quicker notes too many times. “Down to Mars to Ride” is an example of this groovy, laid-back approach.
Olle Dahlstedt (drums) and Victor Brandt (bass) form a rhythm section that doesn’t rhythmically mimic the guitar riffs note-for-note, often lending a doom-like feel to some tracks. The title track “Dead Dawn” follows this approach. However, the groove sometimes demands a note-for-note interplay, as seen on the latter half of the same song, where Entombed A.D. veer back into traditional death metal territory.
The triplet and back-beat laden “Black Survival” and the ominous-sounding “Not What it Seems” end the album, which is overall, a solid dose of death metal.
With clear production and straightforward approaches to songwriting, Entombed A.D. do not exactly hit upon the sweet spot of death metal madness here, but their songs compensate for it with their meaty grooves, as well as hooks that will haunt the listener. In this regard, ‘Dead Dawn’ is a well-written death metal record worthy of the “death n’ roll” label, and will certainly raise the hopes of fans who wish to see the Entombed of old back in its Scandinavian glory.