Entombed A.D. is a name that I’ve heard a lot recently, but I hadn’t had the chance to give the band a good listen until Dead Dawn arrived in my inbox. As a group that has quite the history – with 4 of the 5 original members from Entombed, which formed in 1989 – Entombed A.D. brings some new light to an older sound. Going back to some of Entombed’s standout material, specifically Left Hand Path and Entombed A.D’s 2014 Back To The Front, the new group retains enough of its notable sound to please original fans, but progresses far enough to also write original sounding material.
This album plays with tension and release as if it were a fine car salesman; just when you least expect a switch to a half-timed tempo, its deceptive picking hand swoops in to give you something sweet that’ll stay in your mind and make you want to play the track again. Each song works to build tension in its own way, whether it’s a fast section that would make any crowd want to circle pit, or a well-placed pause in a slower, heavier song. Each release works differently than the other songs on the album, and it keeps the listener guessing what part will enter next; a great example of this is towards the end of “Total Death,” when it seems expected for a breakdown-esque section to enter after all stringed instruments cut out and the snare serves as a count off. Instead, the part immediately picks up into a solo, which releases more energy than what was predicted.
It’s worth noting that most of the first half of this album is repetitive; each song has a similar construction based on riff format once the full band kicks in, and most of the riffs are based in the same key while the faster percussion parts are sometimes cliché; despite these, there’s always an element that manages to redraw my attention to the band. Perhaps the heaviest track on the record, “As The World Fell,” opens with an almost sludge-inspired riff that quickly becomes a cross between a hardcore and death metal sound based on how the different instruments function together. The ability to play with the feel of a riff on its context – the way it interacts with the other instruments – is one of my favorite aspects of this album, and it’s the main reason why I keep going back to specific moments in songs. On the other hand, small moments like the transition from the final, expansive riff of “Silent Assasin” (sic) to the melodic introduction to “Hubris Fall,” serves as a nice break from the relentless, compact riffs and matching percussion.
The soundscape is full here; drum production gives a good sense of place for the listener via well-mixed and recorded drums, as well as guitar tones that do the band’s classic sound justice in a modern world. However, the sound of the bass itself seems to be missing; while the low end of the sound can be heard, the bass notes themselves are difficult to decipher in the mix. Some production choices, such as on “Down To Mars To Ride” where panning creates tension before introducing the first verse, catch my attention, though there are other times where the band could benefit from more small details that they didn’t act on. By no means is the album negatively affected – but I do question how taking advantage of these moments could have benefitted the band’s strengths.
I find myself analyzing each song on the record based on small elements that dance with expectation, use different forms of tension building and explosive release to make the listener want to headbang, and the ability to create different feelings for a riff through the context of other instruments. Even though this album was my first real listen to any of either Entombed or Entombed A.D.’s material, the band has found a new fan; if this album had come out when I was running through my Arch Enemy, Sodom, and Slayer phase, it probably would’ve been one of the releases I kept returning to as I was looking for cool riffs to learn on guitar.