The Tomb Awaits (FDA Rekotz)
by Phil Freeman
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Entrails were a footnote in the history of Swedish death metal. In the most authoritative book on the subject, Daniel Ekeroth‘s Swedish Death Metal, they’re described in the index of bands as “An early band from the minor death metal center Avesta. They did one demo, and a few memorable gigs. (Joel must be one of the sloppiest, most exciting drummers ever, watching him play was a spectacle!)”
Oh, wait, that’s not even the same band! That’s right, in 1990/91, there were two bands in Sweden called Entrails. This one rehearsed, and recorded some demo tracks, but nobody in the group was satisfied with the quality, so nothing was ever released, and gradually they drifted apart. Only guitarist Jimmy Lundqvist kept the flame lit in his heart, and over a decade after the group’s final dissolution in 1998, he decided to dig through the old tapes and see if he couldn’t make something of what he found.
Ultimately, he was able to recruit some bandmembers based on guitar-and-drum machine demos recorded at home, and the first Entrails album, Tales from the Morgue, was released on the indie FDA Rekotz label in 2010. This is the follow-up, indicating that he’s intent on making at least a semi-serious go of it.
Swedish death metal has a very identifiable sound; see my review of Interment‘s Into the Crypts of Blasphemy, from last year, for the details. Basically, it’s a loose, swinging rock ‘n’ roll groove that vacillates between punk speed and Black Sabbath-esque loping, propelled by rattling drums and built on a foundation of ultra-distorted, fuzzed-out guitars. Entombed are the kings of this sound, but other bands such as Dismember, Grave and Unleashed also play it quite well. Entrails aren’t trying to bring anything new to the table—as Lundqvist himself writes on their MySpace page, “Entrails doesn’t come with something new in style. Entrails doesn’t follow the death metal scene of today. Entrails does what the Swedish death metal did best 20 years ago. Simply playing pure old school Swedish death metal. And there will be more!!!!!!”
The 11 songs (and one short intro) that make up The Tomb Awaits have a bristling energy tempered with the casualness and self-confidence that only the work of veteran musicians possesses. They’re not in it to impress critics, or for fame or pussy; they do what they do out of pure love, and because this is the sound they learned to communicate in when they were teenagers. Perhaps the best comparison (other than to their Swedish peers) would be the now-defunct punk band the Lazy Cowgirls, who migrated to Los Angeles from Ohio in the mid-’80s and blended the speed of the Ramones with the swing and emotional power of the blues, creating a sound somewhere between X and Social Distortion. The Cowgirls kept going for years in the face of near-total public indifference, and/but their discography, mostly written by singer Pat Todd, is one of the great catalogs of working-class rage and fatalism, set to bracing, permanently energized punk rock. They knew the right people were listening, so they kept going, saying what they wanted to say. Similarly, Entrails are writing songs like “Eaten By the Dead” and “Collection of Cracked Heads” not because the world needs more gory fantasies set to gut-churning, downtuned guitar riffs, but because Jimmy Lundqvist never got his chance in the ’90s, and now that he’s a grown-ass man, there’s a side of him that still wants to put on denim and leather and rip it up. Good for him. And good for those of us who still get a thrill from this sound, because without breaking (or even testing) the boundaries of Swedish death metal as it’s been played for over two decades, Entrails have managed to make two very competent, classicist records in a row, each of which are easy to recommend to diehards.