Review by Jeff Maki
I was a huge fan of Entombed in the early ’90s. And if you were a death metal fan during that era, I’m sure you were, too. With Left Hand Path and Clandestine, Entombed pioneered the Swedish metal scene, influencing legions of bands to come. Then with the less death metal and more accessible Wolverine Blues, it invented “death ‘n’ roll.” Numerous lineup changes ensued, though five more albums were released during this time. The last one I remember hearing was 2007’s Serpent Saints—The Ten Amendments. The band then disappeared but returned in 2014 with Back to the Front, except only vocalist L-G Petrov remained and the dreaded “A.D.” was now succeeding its name. The only thing worse is if you’re in a band and a country in parentheses follows your name.
For me, these are red flags, like I’m buying the generic brand of something. I know these things are unavoidable and usually the result of a legal disputes, but still. Even worse is when you have multiple versions of bands, something that happened briefly with Entombed when former members (minus Petrov) reunited in 2014 to perform Clandestine in its entirety with a symphony orchestra.
Despite this now being a different band—with Petrov, drummer Olle Dahlstedt, guitarist Nico Elgstrand and bassist Victor Brandt—this is the most classic-sounding lineup of Entombed in years. Petrov’s vocals are in vintage form and always have been one of the more recognizable in the scene—desperately violent is how I would describe them. Buzzsaw guitars (another innovation of Entombed) are ever-present. The music of Dead Dawn is split evenly between death metal and death ‘n’ roll with some new rotten sounds thrown in. Let’s highlight a few of the sickest tracks as we work from the back to the front of the album as I listen:
“Black Survival” has a Morbid Angel-like double bass and progression a la “Where the Slime Live.” These type of off-the-wall rhythms and backwards riffs aren’t entirely new for Entombed. One of my favorite Entombed songs, “Stranger Aeons,” does it to perfection, and this one pulls it off well.
“Hubris Fall” is a sludgy death metal ballad, if there is such a thing. I feel like I’m walking into the cave that graces the Clandestine album cover as I’m listening.
“Silent Assassin” is a straightforward thrasher and has an ’80s Slayer feel to it.
On “Total Death,” Petrov barks “Rock ‘n’ roll! Destruction!” at the end of the chorus. This grave-stomper of a song would have fit perfectly on Wolverine Blues.
“As the World Fell” has a doom metal feel, throttled down but still meaty enough for extremists. (Did Petrov just scream something about “severed heads?”)
The title track, “Dead Dawn,” has a “Sinners Bleed” type of momentum, and as that track was to Clandestine, this is one of the stronger tracks here.
“Midas in Reverse” was the album’s first single (if you can call it that) and ironically one of the more extreme death metal tracks.
This was the fourth time I’ve listened to Dead Dawn. It’s damn close to being a new classic Entombed record. Among the album’s many strengths are that no two songs are alike and it blazes by before you’ve fully regained consciousness, awakened from this nightmare world of Entombed. Dead Dawn is drenched in everything we loved about the band, with a little something extra tacked on.
(Century Media Records, February 26, 2016)