In the retro Swedish death sweepstakes, you can’t get much more committed than Sweden’s Entrails. Having been around in one form or another since the original wave of Swede death, they weren’t able to release anything until 2010s Tales From the Morgue. While I went quite gorilla shit over that platter and its 110% pure Entombed worshipping awesomeness, I was let down by their The Tomb Awaits follow-up, which seemed watered down and lacking in the raw charm of its predecessor. I wrote that off to the fact that the Morgue songs were originally from the early 90s and had lots of time to molder and fester and I hoped they could recapture their old rancid charm on future outings. I’m happy to report that Raging Death is a step in the right (left) direction, with a much more intense, raw, Left Hand Path friendly approach. As if to prove the point that they want nothing more than to ape vintage Entombed material, they even changed their logo to mimic that of their progenitor (you can take that as epically cheesy, pathetic or amusing as you see fit). Raging Death is ten tracks of shamelessly old school death with slight traces of Motorhead‘s rock sensibility snaked in here and there (especially in the solos) and while it isn’t even a little innovative, it’s fairly fun, familiar and easy to stomach.
If you’ve heard Left Hand Path or Clandestine, then you know exactly what this sounds like. Since anyone reading this review has likely heard those albums, my job is quite easy. Most of this is D-beaty, mid-tempo, sludgy death with the classic “Stockholm Sound” to the guitars and extra phlegmy, vile vocals. Songs like “In Pieces,” “Cadaverous Stench,” “Carved to the Bone” and Descend to Beyond” are all tried-and-true retro death that are bound to entertain fans of the style. “Bloodhammer” is a slower, more anthemic ditty that could be considered a poor man’s version of Asphyx‘s “Deathhammer.” It’s simple and a bit brain-dead, but it still kind of works.
Others like “Chained and Dragged” and “The Cemetery Horrors” are okay, but feel a bit more generic, despite some decent old school riffing. The remainder of the tunes fall somewhere between fun and average. There are very few variations in tempo or approach and after a while, things do start to feel overly similar and by the last two or three tracks, it starts to feel tired.
Still, the riffing from Jimmy Lundqvist and Mathis Nilsson is pretty catchy and engaging. They take the classic, buzzing sound of Swedish death and infuse just enough hooks to make it go down like chocolate milk (with some maggot content). The playing on “Carved to the Bone,” “Headless Dawn” and “Death League” is particularly enjoyable. Their solos are better still, and though usually on the minimalist side, they flit between rocking out and an eerie, horror film style. Jocke Svensson’s death spittle is well done and walks a line between L.G. Petrov (Entombed, duh) and Mattias Parkkila (Blood Mortized).
The production is tailor-made for this style and has plenty of raw, crusty murk. The guitars have bite and the drums have a decently organic thunk. Since I hate modern sounding productions, this all makes me happy.
Basic, non-innovative, retro Swedish death has a shelf life and I’m feeling the fatigue increase daily, but this is just good enough to end up on the positive side of the ledger. I doubt Entrails will ever recapture the quality of Tales From the Morgue, but I can live with this level of blood-and-guts death if I must.