Along with Blood Mortized, Entrails are one of the few retro Swedish death acts that don’t give me Old Timer’s Fatigue. It’s hard to say why that is, since they ape classic Entombed and Dismember just as hard as all the other pimpanzees in the throwback zoo. All I know is their music usually avoids feeling old and excessively stale. Instead, it feels plenty putrid and rotten, and that I love. I suppose it all comes down to song writing and Entrails has been better than most at D-beating the dead horse for tunes that entertain and enthrall regardless how familiar they may sound. Obliterate sees them sticking closely to their moldy and cobwebbed wheelhouse, striving to craft fan-friendly death. And it certainly doesn’t hurt any that they recruited Lord Swanö the Mighty to handle the production this time out, and who could take issue with that badass Pacific Rim themed album art? Unfortunately, when all the chips are counted and the biscuits are buttered, this is a less inspiring platter than I’ve come to expect from Entrails and they’ve finally succumb to the dreaded retro death doldrums. Oh, the humanity!
That isn’t to say Obliterate is wholly lacking rousing, shite-kicking moments of old school glory. Opener “No Cross Left Unturned” (nice pun there) is a legitimately ugly, angry and speedy beast of bourbon, demonstrating that the band means nasty business. The guitars are appropriately buzzy and that D-beat gallop is there as always. It’s utterly generic, but it still works. “Beyond the Flesh” grinds along in a menacing mid-tempo with fat, heavy riffing that will remind you of Dismember ditties like “Skinfather.” The best moment is easily “Epitome of Death” where the guitar tone comes close to the savage hideousness heard on Slaughter‘s immortal Strappado opus and the riffs have real bite and hooks. As the song is winding out, they even break into Chopin‘s timeless “Funeral March.” It’s both doomy and beautiful and it just works. Elsewhere, there’s a strong Bolt Thrower flavor to the riff progressions on the title track, and “Midnight Coffin” has a bit of The Misfits old energy mixed in amongst the death rattle.
The back half of Obliterate gets pretty wobbly however, and the last few songs feel weak and dog tired, and that’s a damn shame, because a tune titled “Bonestorm” deserves to be every bit as wonderful as the video game of the same name from The Simpsons. “Abyss of Corpses” attempts to straddle speedy death and doom, and the doom riffs are actually quite decent and begin to create an effectively bleak mood, but then the band reverts back to speedy death and the momentum vanishes into thin air.
Working in the album’s favor is the moderate 41 minute runtime and the fact that most songs are a punchy three or four minutes. Mr. Swanö did a great job production-wise and Obliterate has a huge sound without being overloud. The mix is good and everything sounds big and burly, even with a limited DR of 7. The drums have a rich warm sound and the guitars are powerful and raw enough to satisfy the genre purists.
This is the first Entrails album featuring new guitarist, Penki and along with Jimmy Lundqvist they hammer away with all manner of traditional retro death riffs. Many are simple chugs, but they spice them up with interesting little harmonies and sometimes surprise with melodic touches. That said, the basic chugging is too prevalent and it gets boring. Joakim Svensson’s death roars are pretty much industry standard L.G. Petrov style, but they work well and he really throws himself into it at times with wonderfully strangulated gurgles.
The problem with Obliterate is that once the song craft dips in quality, there’s absolutely nothing distinguishing Entrails from the vast ocean of faceless retro pretenders. You’ve heard the riffs and the roars, and by now the style is as familiar as Burger King and about as flavorful.
Definitely the weakest album in the Entrails discography, Obliterate still has moments, but it’s too nondescript as a whole to make me a believer. Cherry pick the good and send the rest back to the morgue for vivisection.