Naturally bands have splits, crucial members leave and new pastures follow yet sometimes things become irreparable. Yet in recent times often the splits have led to renamed acts under a similar moniker. I tend to try and view this as a positive for the most part, although it can lead to disappointment in the end. However in other instances it can lead to elation, for example the latest incarnation of Nocturnus under the name Nocturnus AD just put out a stand out record. Sometimes these little detours can surprise us, and at the end of the day are they not just elevated or glorified side projects in an odd sort of way?
One such splintering band are the Swedish Death Metal heavyweights Entombed, most famous for their seminal Left Hand Path record in 1990. The band later went on to develop a sort of Death ‘N’ Roll style bringing further heaps of influence to the table and inspiring yet more bands. However around 2014 it was announced that the album that vocalist L-G Petrov had been working on would be released under a new name, Entombed A.D., as a result of various court dealings. Thus we are not here to discuss politics, we are here for music, this time in the form of the bands third full length release Bowels Of Earth, the follow up to the 2016 record Dead Dawn. Yet the question remains, can it match up to the band’s original legacy?
Whilst I’m a firm fan of Entombed’s classic releases naturally I have to confess I was never a great admirer of Entombed A.D. and their debut output Back To The Front failed to land with me. Bowels Of Earth begins with strong intentions, Torment Remains in particular becoming a huge slab of Old School Death Metal purity complete with a signature Swedish tone and overly hook heavy riffs. Hell Is My Home is a similarly aggressive affair with a touch of Death ‘N’ Roll which strangely makes the track come across as decidedly modern, namely through the traditional shouts of L-G Petrov. Bowels Of Earth and Bourbon Nightmare further bolster this Death Country vibe with the undeniable Groove influence that whilst contemporary works a treat and ensures that the first portion of the record is a winner.
Fit For A King sadly becomes the first duller track on the record, whilst it isn’t bad it seldom emits the same force as prior songs. Luckily the purist Death Metal bludgeoning of Worlds Apart brings the album back to focus via powerful melodious guitar sections and crushing drums. Perhaps the oddest track is yet to come however, a Hank Williams cover of the song I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive. Petrov’s vocals appear to take a shift from the almost legible to the totally legible, however they remain gruff and full of Death Metal musk. I thought I would hate this song, what with me not particularly being a fan of Country or covers, however I must say I was proven wrong, an enjoyable experience which has skewed my prior conceptions of Hank Williams and led to my intrigue. Finally the dirge heavy To Eternal Night plods the album away into the distance with great gravitas and power.
Well I’m going to come clean, I basically only chose this album to review in the hopes that I might finally get into Entombed A.D., and it appears to have worked. I’ve never been much of a fan of the whole Death ‘N’ Roll thing and when I saw the Hank Williams cover on the track listing my heart sank. Yet I’ve come out the other side a changed person with a new found respect for Entombed’s later discography, Entombed A.D.’s discography and a piqued interest in Hank Williams. If this is your first rodeo with Entombed then naturally I would say ‘why aren’t you listening to Left Hand Path?’ Yet I jest, this is a fantastic modern banger and a real turn up for the books for Entombed A.D.
(8/10 George Caley)