I got a bit sidetracked while writing this review trying to chart the rise of rethrash (thanks Encyclopaedia Metallum!). Since 2003, the proportion of thrash albums to all metal albums released per year has, perhaps surprisingly, stayed constant at around 16%. However, the proportion of new thrash bands to new metal bands forming per year (going back to 1995) peaked at 23% in 2006, and had shrunk to 14% last year. Entrench formed just prior to peak thrash in 2005, releasing a string of demos before unleashing their debut full length, Inevitable Decay, in 2011. What can my thrashnalysis tell us about their music? Fuck all really, but it’s some pretty good trivia, eh?
Entrench’s sound is a bit different from the rethrash crowd, influenced massively by the German Big Three as well as 80s death metal. Mix early Sodom and Kreator with a strong hint of Leprosy and a touch of Beyond the Gates and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what Entrench sound like. The band have a good handle on both flat-out blasting and thrash groove, getting a good balance of both in most songs along with the odd Death riff (fifth track “Devoid of Life” being the best example of this blend). All good stuff, naturally. Utterly unoriginal, but the riffs come thick and fast, ensuring you’ll have a sore neck once the record has run its course.
The record is a lengthy 50 minutes, which for this style is pushing it. My absolute favorite Kreator-worship album is Sauron’s Thrash Assault, which runs a perfect twenty seven minutes, and sounds more raw, frenzied and dangerous than Entrenched (or any other thrash band since 2000) manage. You sense they’ve attempted to go a bit Time Does Not Heal on the songwriting front – the riff density is very high and several songs last over six minutes. While the riffs are good, they don’t manage the variety that Dark Angel pulled off on that particular masterpiece. The sole moment of respite from the thrash onslaught comes four and a half minutes into fourth track “Chemical Holocaust the Mental Wasteland,” when, as the guitars dwindle and the sound of the whistling wind fades in, a solo accordion starts up a folky, weirdly eerie little ditty.
The band have gone for a suitably raw feel production-wise, the buzzsaw guitars underpinned by natural drums and, of course, an almost total absence of bass – it’s both low in the mix and primarily copies the guitar lines so lacks any presence of its own. This is a shame, and where the band could have paid more attention to their proto-death metal forebears. Scream Bloody Gore might have been a dreadfully muffled racket, but the bass was (almost) always audible and provided some balance to the outrageously trebly guitars. Violent Procreation doesn’t achieve that balance; the guitar fizz, while initially fantastically aggressive, begins to grate after a while. The band members all turn in great performances, though you almost wish for a hint of the slight sloppiness that made the early German thrash records sound so dangerous.
How much you get out of this record will depend largely on your need for originality in your thrash. Entrench distinguish themselves from the new mosh crowd (I say new; Municipal Waste and Toxic Holocaust’s debuts came out 11 years ago) with their ambitious songwriting, death metal influences and raw production, and if you’re in the mood for something a bit scarier than your usual rethrash then this could well do the trick. Ultimately though, Entrench don’t quite do enough to make me think I’ll be listening to this a month from now.