Monday, January 21, 2002 @ 3:31 PM
(Koch/Music For Nations)
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Sweden's Entmbed have been blasting out sludgey death metal for about a decade now and show no signs of letting up on their relentless, metallic pummeling. Though many felt that the band lost some steam when drummer Nicke Andersson left to lead his own the band, the equally kick ass Hellacopters (as a guitarist/singer, no less), I beg to differ. Though Nicke's last album with the group, the epic To Ride, Shoot Straight And Speak The Truth, is certainly one of their best and strongest efforts to date, 1999's Same Difference and 2000’s Uprising were no letdowns. In fact, the new tracks on Uprising, a collection of brand new and older cuts, were every bit as powerful and smoldering as their past work. However, many have complained that the band has really never reached the heights of Wolverine Blues and the awesome Left Hand Path since the mid-'90s. All that changes though with the release of Morning Star, as the band slams into high gear on what might very well be their most impressive effort ever.
The one thing that has separated Entombed from the rest of the death metal pack is GROOVE, something most hardcore metal bands severely lack. While they certainly are fast and furious most of the time (check out “I For An Eye” for an example) they can slide into a stoner rock groove, an MC5-style power-riff, or Motorhead gallop with ease and it only enhances the proceedings. “Bringer of Light” sounds like something off of Slayer’s South of Heaven and features a cool breakdown section that introduces some acoustic guitar into the mix. In fact, the acoustic guitar on the intro to “Chief Rebel Angel” is so dark and brooding-sounding I wouldn’t be surprised if Dr. Dre or Ice Cube sample it on their next “Natural Born Killaz”-style jam. It’s fuckin’ evil, man. “Out of Heaven” is another rocker that actually take the time to breathe an little before smashing in your skull.
But have no fear, these boys have not mellowed or sold out, there’s still plenty of heavy-as-fuck riffs and double kick drum jackhammer beats. It’s just that they have become more tasteful over the years and know that the heavy riff will sound even heavier when sandwiched between some not so heavy stuff. It’s a formula Megadeth and Metallica learned a long time ago and it works. But while the aforementioned groups add pop hooks to the mix, Entombed keep it metal every step of the way. Check out the bone-crunching “Young Man Nihilist” or “Year One Now” for a sample of the band in full-throttle headbangin’ mode. It’s pretty glorious, man. Peter Stjarnvind does a great job of filling Nicke’s big shoes and keeps things appropriately unyielding. As always, vocalist L-G Petov howls and yells like a madman, but actually has, dare I say, a good voice…well, for a death metal guy. Sure, he sounds like he gargles battery acid before hitting the mic, but the man injects some melody and emotion into his vocals and that makes a HUGE difference in this genre. Whereas most death metal singers just growl like a rapid dog, Petov goes for the throat but with some actual dynamics and diversity in his voice (those terms being used loosely here…this is still a death metal band and he ain’t no Robin Zander).
The production is top notch yet still rough and raw. One cool trick they employ that’s pretty neat is on “When It Hits Home.” The volume of the entire song come in a little lower than the previous tracks and suddenly leaps up a coupla notches on the second verse, giving it big ol’ kick and causing the listener to do a double take. It’s pretty cool…
Yes, Morning Star is a thoroughly pleasing affair that should delight longtime fans and win over some new ones in the process. Entombed are playing some gigs with a full orchestra coming up that should be quite amazing. They are one of the few band’s of this genre that can pull something like that off and just goes to show what a forward thinking band they really are, ready to experiment and tinker with their sound…and that alone is worth some bonus points.