Back To The Front
Review by Maciek on July 27, 2014.
Over 7 years of waiting. After a brilliant, heavy as Thor's hammer album, which was Serpent Saints, 7 years of long waiting for another album. I was very happy when I read about this last year. And then suddenly line-up problems and date of release pushed forward to 2014. That was really horrible, especially that no new date was given. No words can describe how I felt when I heard about this album being ready for reviews. And since I listened to it for the first time it hasn't been switched off, doesn't matter if I'm at home, in my car or at work.
This album is so amazing, that I'm still discovering new details and they all create a perfect death metal album, Swedish style. But if you think that Serpent Saints was good, the perfect combination of brutal death metal with low tuned guitars and powerful growling and complexity of riffs, incorporation of other styles and ability to make all songs sound catchy will shock you. This album has everything. Let's start with Kill to Live. Brilliant opening with surprising intro. Rhythm rather unsettling, raising tension. But as catchy as Addiction King. But not that much "rock", it's still heavy, crushing death metal. Only Entombed A.D. can manage to make death metal sound so melodic. Word about guitars - they sound like something between Wolverine Blues and Inferno - really "buzzy" and low tuned. And bass sounds amazing on this album, and generally the level of low frequency sounds are very visible here, you can definitely hear it on this album and on high volume it really makes your speakers sweat. The first track is one of the songs showing clearly how death metal in Sweden evolved from punk scene. And Lars's ability to do the melodic growling - brilliant. You can hear his whole spectrum of growls on this album, and it's amazing. While we are talking about elements which appear throughout the whole album - there are amazing solos here! I have to say that Nico is a brilliant guitarist, his ideas are also great, his solos bring slightly more "heavy metal" kind of riffs, but they work great! This mixture is a real explosive and Nico is doing a great job as a guitarist. Brilliant choice. Now I feel a little tempted to listen to Krux albums to hear what he used to play before. Anyway, solo in Kill to Live - slightly Eastern melody, with brilliant, punky rhythm section. Bedlam Attack - starts like something close to Rotten Soil. But let that simple beginning not fool you, the track (like many on this album) evolves and has more and more elements added to it as it goes. Including some acoustic guitars - also a brilliant element added by Nico. By the way - this album could and in my opinion should be released under the Entombed name. This is not only a true Entombed album, I think that this could be the album that also fills the void after the disappearance of Dismember. That was always the only detail that was distinguishing them from the rest - melodic solos. And now Entombed has it. If you know Deicide, then I would compare this album to the appearance of Ralph Santolla on their Stench of Redemption album. I just hope that they will find some good another guitarist to fill in for the shows, because it should be played live as it sounds on the album. Pandemic Rage - great intro with strings, followed by proper death'n'roll rhythm, then switching to Unleashed-style riffing on one string. But you can hear at least 3 melody lines, which again makes it more advanced school of death metal. And then that punk style, reminding some attempts by Cradle of Filth to incorporate it, but on this album it sounds so much better. Second to None, again slower rhythm at the beginning, like Retaliation, then going to slightly faster pace with really punk bridge and chorus reminding slightly of Same Difference, more melodic growling. But obviously, much heavier. And solo sounding as if Roy from Bruce Dickinson's solo band came and played it as a guest. And some acoustic guitars when Lars is growling/singing. Bait and Bleed starts with acoustic guitar, followed by Thou Shalt Kill rhythm, then again faster showing punk roots with another element from Nico's list of awesome riffs. And Lars's growling fits perfectly. Another brilliant, furious, but melodic solo. Waiting for Death - faster track, with interesting, changing riffs, sometimes reminding a little third album by Carcass. But again, this is made way more Swedish way with a little addition of thrash. Some acoustic guitars, too, adding the aerie atmosphere when you hear shouts "Hell!". Really proper headbanging track. Eternal Woe switches to slower rhythm, again the style of Retaliation comes to mind. And quickly that changes to the kind of singing/growling in really low register, like on God of Thunder (Kiss song covered by Entombed). But after second chorus, there's another, even more melodic passage. Brilliant, with an atmosphere of a funeral, mostly because of minor scales and march-like drums. Another track with brilliant solo. Digitus Medius - beginning in the style of Bolt Thrower, but obviously with their own, Entombed A.D.'s twist. Which makes it even more crushing, again the beginning sounds raw and angry, but later changing to more melodic, again nearly heavy metal sounding riffs and melody lines, with a little slow down in the middle, as if the track was about to end, and then picked up with faster pace and another solo. Then comes the Vulture and the Traitor, if you were waiting for this album you probably already know it by heart as it was released by Century Media for free to listen online (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrI7IdkaEik). I love the slow down in this track with Lars's growling enhanced by a bit of pitch effect. And another proof that death metal sounds great with punk rhythms. The Underminder - brilliant track with the fastest drums on this album, but also having some elements of punk in verses, but the chorus is really astonishing, with acoustic guitars and glissandos in riffs. Solo with the fast background also sounds great. Nico definitely joins the group of my favourite guitarists who can play melodic solos to brutal death metal tracks with Ralph Santolla and Trey Azagthoth. Last track Soldier of No Fortune - intro with acoustic guitar and piano, but a great reminder of similar melodies in Left Hand Path or DCLXVI. Then slightly irregular accents with melody reminding King Diamond's tracks. Again few rhythms as if they were taken from some marching music. Slow down, again with many melodic accents, to slow down even more with a sound of an echo from a bell, another track with brilliant solos. Yes, there are sometimes more than one.
To sum everything up, this album is just a gem, which will become a classic very soon if properly promoted. It is a very good reward for that long waiting for the album's release and it seems that Lars found a brilliant guitarist, who can deliver. In genuine Swedish death metal style. Brilliant production with very good sound - heavy, low-tuned guitars, powerful growling, melodic solos - you can hear it all without any problem, very good job done on the mixing part. This album pushed Entombed A.D. to the leading position on Swedish death metal scene and in my opinion they are there to stay. And Nico Elgstrand is a genius.
Rating: 10 out of 10