Does anyone passionately have a favorite Entrails record? This question has animated this review, and I think the answer is “no” in a meaningful sense. People can, and probably do, like one Entrails record better than the others, but I get the feeling that the reasons are a lot more arbitrary than the ones behind the decision about which Morbid Angel record is the best one. Nonetheless, Entrails are a big name in metal and release their material on a big label, and the vast majority of you reading this can already hear what World Inferno sounds like despite not having the promo copy yourselves.
The name of the Entrails game is modernized Swe-death full of chainsaw guitars, melodic Dismember hooks like those on Massive Killing Capacity, and a streamlined sound made for wide appeal quite clearly based around Entombed’s Wolverine Blues but faster overall. In a sense, this is the arena rock of Swe-death: it’s made to please, be consumed, and be understood by the many instead of the few, demonstrating a populist and exoteric approach to music. Like inexpensive beer, it’s easy to get behind, share, and enjoy, but rarely will it be a favorite. Do not take this as disparaging such an approach; I appreciate the honesty, the straightforwardness, the practical element to Entrails’s sound. It aims to make sense as visceral, efficient, modernized Swe-death, not redefine anything. Phrased another way, Entrails have taken every major connotation of “Swe-death” and based their sound entirely around them.
The practical attitude towards music present in Entrails keeps everything running like a well-oiled machine. Songs are designed around verse-chorus-verse-bridge-etc. structures almost uniformly, and World Inferno demonstrates amply the band’s grasp on writing accessible songs that go where you expect – and more often than not, want them to go. The opener, World Inferno’s eponymous track, rips through a chaotic solo before an uptempo verse, the exact thing we know to expect when listening to Left Hand Path. Even the Phantasm melody is subtly aped and altered in the chorus, as is the underlying bass and guitar line if you listen closely enough. For the most part, other tracks follow suit, streamlining and simplifying old Dismember and Entombed ideas to accentuate the heavier and, more crucially, immediate elements in them. Like comfort food, bikini-clad women trying to sell you hamburgers, or an action movie comprised almost entirely of large-scale explosions, car chases, and shootouts, this aims to hit the lizard brain and hit it hard.
There’s a place for this, and Entrails is good enough at this style to be worth listening to. “Collector of Souls” is a perfect example: a melancholic and melodic chorus in Entombed’s early style rears its head suddenly amidst crunchy modernized Wolverine riffing, but just for a brief moment. This makes one crave hearing it again, and Entrails holds off repeating it for a while by extending the verse. The payoff, predictably, is an extended version of that chorus. The issue is that after the first few times you’ll face diminishing returns because each part is merely competent, but by that time most listeners will have probably moved on to stream about fifty new records. Deliberately jarring composition like this forces attention instead of earning it, and much like Doom 3’s monster closets, it’s initially compelling but quickly becomes expected, trite, and so very average.
In fairness to Entrails, World Inferno never gets truly boring. It does what’s expected, which is pump out more simplified Swe-death that’s fun, loud, and unchallenging. It makes sense that its biggest misstep, “Serial Murder (Death Squad),” suffers the most because it has the audacity to competently ape Slaughter of the Soul wholesale instead of competently aping the aforementioned Entombed and Dismember records. Expectations seem to define World Inferno, keeping Entrails as the musical equivalent of a wide net, a jack of all trades, or a musical populist. This is for those who just want to enjoy some new, agreeable, well-produced, and reasonably catchy Swe-death with no frills, no real surprises, and performances that hinge on efficiency and competency. In other words, it appears that Entrails once again tried to be a decent thing to a whole host of people, and with World Inferno they hit their mark.