Genre: Death Metal
1. Left Hand Path
3. Revel in Flesh
4. When Life has Ceased
5. Supposed to Rot
6. But Life Goes On
7. Bitter Loss
8. Morbid Devourement
9. Abnormally Deceased
10. The Truth Beyond
11. Carnal Leftovers
12. Premature Autopsy
Now this is what I call a tough review to fill. It’s 2008 as I’m writing this and I’m finally going back to rewrite this review. Honestly I don’t think my teenager charged initial review did the full breadth of this release justice. Sure made sensible points, but a single paragraph for “Left Hand Path” kind of downplays how groundbreaking this album was for it’s time.
It seems like in the late 80’s/early 90’s the Swedish Death Metal scene just came out of nowhere. England and the U.S. were sort of making a name for themselves with bands like Napalm Death, Carcass, Morbid Angel, Obituary, Cannibal Corpse and Suffocation… but all of a sudden these Swedish bands hit the stage and really gave our world a hell of a shaking. These bands were doing something that just felt different from the fairly sped up brutality of the U.S. bands (aside from Obituary). Here we see the Swedish onslaught begin with Entombed, Dismember, Grave, and Unleashed. While Unleashed felt a bit more like German Death Metallers Morgoth at the time, they were still a major part of the Swedish scene. However, the other three bands Entombed, Dismember, and Grave had a distinctly different feel.
Aside from Suffocation I can’t think of another band that was playing Death Metal that sounded as heavy as the Swedes. We can probably add Carnage into this mix, but most of those guys ended up in Dismember as well. Anyway, while Grave basically focused on heaviness, Entombed and Dismember threw a lot more groove into their songs. I’ll go over Dismember on their own page, so for now we have Entombed. Carnage and Entombed were the first to get their CD’s put out into the market place, but I think Entombed had the bigger advantage because it was initially released on Earache, instead of Necrosis like Carnage was… even though Necrosis was a subset. Regardless, I think Entombed was essentially their major test band to see if this brand of Death Metal would catch on with the public. Needless to say it really did!
“Left Hand Path” musically adheres to a couple things. It firstly focuses on the crushing heavy guitar tone that so few bands were using at this time. Secondly, and here’s what really separated Entombed from the average Death Metal band, they add in a very good degree of groove/rock styled riffing. Don’t get this confused, this is a Death Metal album through and through, but it just has much catchier riffing rather than blasting through the album to pummel the listener. This is where Entombed proved to the world that you didn’t need speed to play heavy and brutal sounding Death Metal. Obituary and Bolt Thrower were essentially working with the same general concepts, but forgive me if I’m wrong, they just didn’t sound nearly as catchy! Just listen to that guitar riff after the bass lick in “Bitter Loss”! Now that really grabs your attention.
The vocals on this album aren’t entirely a growl, but they’re somewhere in between a yell and a growl. It’s an interesting vocal technique and it really adds to the power of Entombed’s music. Lars-Göran is definitely the perfect vocalist for them. They really loaded the reverb onto the vocals and when he does go into a scream of sorts it’s just chilling. As you can guess Nicke Andersson’s drum work isn’t centered on speed based drum patterns, but he does do blast beats in a couple songs. Most of the beats are your standard Thrash based beat mixed in with some Rock or Speed Metal patterns.
This is already pretty well known, but for the sake of a complete review I’ll throw in Entombed’s early inceptions. Prior to this Entombed was known as Nihilist, so you see a lot of tracks on “Left Hand Path” that were taken from the Nihilist demos. Though, I will say that the Nihilist demo material was still pretty solid, but the studio recording is naturally the better. However, this just goes to show that Entombed were doing this even before they put out the “But Life Goes On” demo.
Again, this is an absolutely classic release. I really don’t know how much more I can stress that point. Frankly, in my book, if you’re a fan of Death Metal this album should be in your music library. If you’re only looking for speed and brutality Entombed may not have been your cup of tea, but you can’t deny their general influence.