By Craig Haze
Sweden’s Entrails originally formed in the early ’90s but they only got round to releasing their first album, Tales from the Morgue, in 2010. Guitarist Jimmy Lundqvist—who was responsible for bringing the band back to life—obviously didn’t spend those intervening years thinking about refining their sound because the debut was a chunk of obnoxious old school death metal. Tales from the Morgue was the kind of album you’d put on after a couple of beers only to wake up 24 hours later in a ditch with your pants and three teeth missing. It was completely nasty, and utterly retrogressive—two essential components of its overall charm.
Entrails’ style of death metal mimics that of Swedish bands such as Entombed, Grave and Dismember; their debut was a grand homage to the early ’90s, and turned out to be one of the best underground death metal albums from 2010. Their new album, The Tomb Awaits, is mixed and mastered by Dan Swano—who did the same on their debut and provides extra guest vocals this time. The new album is more polished than their first, but those production refinements haven’t seen the band shift an inch from their old school sound—you’ll find brutish chords, the requisite level of crushing tonality, a dash of d-beat madness, and some stellar solos. While the new release is painstakingly retro, the fondness for vintage tunes doesn’t make for regurgitated limp facsimiles of past works. Entrails may be firmly entrenched in 1991, but they still swing a mighty fucking hook.
Luring you in with a dulcet acoustic intro, you’re then hit with the gut-punch of “Unleashed Wrath”. From then on it’s all crunch, slam, bam, wallop, slap, bash… you get the point. Pick any song: “Eaten by the Dead”, “Total Death” or “The Slithering Below”, it’s all the same, every track could essentially be the soundtrack to digging your own grave in some fetid träsk (that’s Swedish for swamp, kids—don’t say you never learn anything new on Hellbound).
As much as the band concentrates on infusing the album with a boggy heaviness, they still show willingness to splash a bit of color about. “Crawling Death” has a tinkering piano cut into the intro, and “End of all Existence” has a great doomy dirge-like mid-section. The band also utilizes more melody, with “Unspeakable Obscenities” and “Undead” containing some classic harmonious metal solos—the latter breaks out into a huge shout-along chorus.
There’s nothing on The Tomb Awaits that you haven’t heard before, but it’s all executed with such unabashed enthusiasm and devotion to the cause that it’s hard to find fault with its delivery. The only real complaint you could make is that the band’s reproduction of a bygone era lends a sense of unoriginality to their work. But then, Entrails have stated unequivocally that all they want to do is play pure old school death metal, so that pretty much settles that argument. And anyway, nobody points a finger at Bloodbath for mining a similar vein. We can cut Entrails a little slack for settling on some overly familiar themes.
The Tomb Awaits is caustic enough, and has enough grubby melodies, to imitate the sort of Swedish death metal that was being produced two decades ago very effectively. That’s mission accomplished for the band, and as such I’d call it a triumphant release. If you want something ground-breaking look elsewhere, but if you’re after something blunt, solid and thoroughly old school then The Tomb Awaits is definitely an album you should invest in.