I have to confess that the last time I paid any attention to the members of Entombed was around 1993, when the band released Wolverine Blues. The truth is that I became interested when I saw an ad for it in an X-Men comic book, and Wolverine Blues became my first real introduction to death metal. Ironically, I’ve been pretty picky about anything I’ve heard which has come out of the genre since, but particularly of what I have heard come from Entombed; to say that I have found the band’s output spotty is an understatement and I’ve had a lot of difficulty finding much to like in the band’s catalogue at all. Now over a quarter century after the release of Wolverine Blues, Entombed has broken up and restructured itself under the name Entombed A.D. and, with Bowels of Earth (the group’s third album under its new moniker), the band has found its way back into something I like which incorporates measures of hard rock, metal and hardcore punk similar to those the group tested out back in the day.
No matter how often they experience Bowels of Earth, it will feel as though listeners have been unceremoniously thrown into the deep end of the pool and left to sink or swim on their own as “Torment Remains” erupts to open the album. There, guitarists Nico Elgstrand and Guitherme Miranda punctuate each other’s phrases perfectly as they shred their fretboards and melt listeners’ faces, drummer Olle Dehlstedt uses his drum kit to alternate between punching listeners in the stomach and boxing their ears and Lars-Göran Petrovstomps out like the personification of aural napalm – burning and laying waste to everything his voice touches. From the moment all four pieces appear in place, everything just seems to fall in line before listeners for the band; the speed metal and darkness in itare undeniable and listeners will succumb to it – whether they want to or not. The sound is easy to recognize as being Entombed and completely gratifying as a result.
…And nothing on Bowels of Earth relents as the album progresses. With the template set by “Torment Remains,” Entombed A.D. just keeps burning through cut after cut within that paradigm – but as tightly contain as it is, it never begins to feel stale or repetitive in the slightest. Particular standout cuts like “Hell is My Home” and “Bourbon Nightmare” on the album’s A-side and “Fit For A King,” “Worlds Apart” and “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive” on the B- simply do not relent for an instant as each of those aforementioned cuts blaze through turgidly and assault eardrums before just clearing the way for the next to repeat the act. By the time the band reaches “To Eternal Night” and closes the album, listeners will find themselves exhausted, but those who could stand the effect will find themselves fulfilled; while certainly an arduous operation, fans of Entombed as they existed in the earlier days of their career will find a fantastic re-evaluation of that sound here.
(Century Media/RED/Sony Music)