With the ten-track Dead Dawn, Sweden’s death metal behemoth Entombed A.D has returned to a scene the members helped to form, offering its second album under this moniker.
Two closely related questions in most fan’s minds seem to be ‘where does Dead Dawn hit stride, and does it measure up to Left Hand Path?’ First things first – it would be terrible to paint the Mona Lisa, and then have to try and follow that up. Try to see this as a separate, new child, not a clone attempt or resuscitation of an older sibling, and the beauty of it begins to shine. Where Dead Dawn hits stride is listener dependent; for the doomy, slower tunes, “As the World Fell” and “Hubris Fall” will scratch that itch, and they’re ever so vaguely reminiscent of agonized creepers like “Bitter Loss” that the old guard fans will enjoy those backward glances. There aren’t any full songs that match up to the neck-snapping, jaw-dropping brutality of, say, “When Life Has Ceased”, but there are plenty of mid-tempo, whiplash-inducing moments during “Dead Dawn,” “Total Death”, and “Not What it Seems”. The “death ‘n’ roll” contingent will like “Down To Mars to Ride”, “The Winner Has Lost”, and “Silent Assassin”. The tsunami hits more then the bolt of lightning over land: fans seeking double-bass drum work and blistering tempos may be disappointed. Entombed A.D remains a crushingly heavy, intense band who relies on its thick wall of sound, not its speed, to do its killing. That said, more uptempo songs include “Midas In Reverse” and “Black Survival”.
Songwriting, or more precisely, riff writing and careful arrangement, have been strengths of Entombed A.D since its birth. Dissonant, discordant, abrasive, and down-tuned, most of the riffs eschew melody in favor of heaviness. The band isn’t afraid of including some melodic elements, and that makes the aesthetic all the more effective and disturbing. Riffs are uncomplicated, straightforward, and tend to be calculated for maximum hitting power. Dead Dawn will punch you in the gut: it’s an album you can feel, viscerally. The sound has been engineered in that rare way where the air moves palpably in front of the speakers. L.G Petrov‘s deep, guttural, raspy vocal is a well-enunciated driving force set to this music, presenting an imposing, menacing figure. Legendary, ferocious buzzsaw guitars weld to a thick, punchy bass guitar tone and deep, wet, analog drums, which forms a delicious, near-impenetrable wall of sound. Flourishes like Nico Elgstrand‘s guitar solos, acoustic guitar intros, and someone’s uncredited synth overlays or breaks are used as garnish. The foundation of Dead Dawn remains a killer groove, an exceptional rhythmic sensibility that the whole band locks into. Victor Brandt‘s bass guitar tone and wicked slides in “The Winner Has Lost” and “Black Survival” help lay a rock solid foundation, in conjunction with Olle Dahlstedt‘s drums. Every song offers a few tidbits of innovation or rarely-used novelty – guitar solos, subtle genre blending, synth accents – uncommon for this subgenre. Transitions are a highlight of both Back to the Front and Dead Dawn, and these are most easily heard by listening to the crafty fills and changes incorporated by Dahlstedt.
Speaking with Century Media Records, vocalist Petrov is a man of few words about this newest set of tunes. Lyrical messages like “Midas In Reverse”‘s “Not everything that you touch can turn into gold. Shit happens – just deal with it, and it will make you a stronger person in the end.” and “Dead Dawn”‘s “In this world we live in right now, you have to have a positive energy. Sometimes, you feel like you wake up to a dead dawn every morning. Just make the most of it, and be productive, and go for it. Then maybe it will be a happy evening.” pepper the songs – a stark, daring, and striking contrast for a band best known for the depths of it’s despair and desolation.
Legal wranglings, lineup changes, and bandmember conflicts aside, Entombed A.D (in one incarnation or another) has been a cornerstone and pillar of the Swedish death metal scene since it’s inception in the late 1980s. Purveying a simpler song structure and more moderate tempos, coupled to arguably one of the most vicious guitar tones in the business, this Swedish staple helped formulate and uphold one of the strongest subgenres in all of metal’s realms. For those seeking paint-peeling, buzzsaw guitar driven death metal that occasionally dallies with hard rock or “death ‘n’ roll”, look no further.
Midas in Reverse
Down to Mars to Ride
As the World Fell
The Winner Has Lost
Not What It Seems
L.G. Petrov – Vocals
Nico Elgstrand – Guitar, backing vocals
Victor Brandt – Bass, backing vocals
Olle Dahlstedt – Drums
Recommended Tracks: “Dead Dawn”, “Midas In Reverse”