The regionality of sound within the metal spectrum is an intriguing yet oft overlooked characteristic of this ever expanding genre. In the earlier years of metal, it used to be that bands were grouped under a regional definition to describe their style; NWOBHM, Gothenburg style death metal, Bay Area thrash are but a few examples. Yet this kind of geographic subdivision seems to become a thing of the past as the internet and other modern aspects of life continue to blur cultural barriers and connect everyone with increasing ease. Nowadays, these regionally defined styles can come from bands far and away from the sub-genre’s original birthplace. Take for example the old-school Swedish death metal with its classic buzz saw guitar sound, plodding drums and guttural growls. While still largely dominated by Swedish bands, it has slowly grown into a niche sound that’s being played by bands from other countries.
However, one can always look to Stockholm for leading examples, and this year sees the release of yet another frosty slab of typical old-school death metal by Entombed A.D. If the name didn’t already give it away, this indeed is a band formed by former Entombed members after some conflicts regarding name ownership when four members then got together and moved on under a new name. Having already released a debut album in August 2014, the fellows are back about a year and a half later with a sophomore release entitled Dead Dawn. It’s an album that doesn’t even attempt to slowly unfold or hold any regard for niceties. Make no mistake about it, this is as straightforward and unapologetic as a death metal album can be in this day and age.
As far as the production goes, it’s a typical affair with deep guttural growls, muddy, chugging guitars, gurgling bass and pummeling drums; any attempts at creating nuances are made by the guitars and drums. The forty minute play time is spent wisely over ten tracks which allows the band to pull off a few tricks without straying too far from the (left hand?) path. Opening piece “Midas In Reverse” is a straightforward head bashing type of experience that gets on with the violence right off the bat. Examples of individual skill are not lacking on this album; creative drumming on the title track, soaring lead guitar work on “The Winner Has Lost”, and the chugging riff done to perfection on “Down to Mars to Ride” are some of the album’s technical highlights.
But in a sub-genre like this, the excitement experienced by both listener and musician can temporarily tamper with one’s judgment as to just how uninventive this style can be. This realization can make it a very good idea to include such slower cuts like “As the World Fell” and “Hubris Fall” to shake things up a bit which does work to an extent here but they come off more as strategically placed tracks rather than an indivisible part of the album’s flow. However, this is an old-school death metal album and, in the grand scheme of things, a pretty good one at that. The expected shortages in terms of creativity and eclecticism are made up for with top notch musicianship and energetic performances. Dead Dawn may not be turning heads around but it will definitely get them banging.