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Entombed: Left hand path

Entombed: Left hand path

09/12/11  ||  BamaHammer

Introduction

Rarely does a band come along with as much impact on a scene as
Entombed imposed on the world of death metal in 1990. When Nihilist
disbanded only to be resurrected in almost their entirety (minus bass
player and apparent douche extraordinaire, Johnny Hedlund), little did
the death metal world know what was about to occur.

The American school of death metal had already quickly assumed its
ultimate sound, destined to continue in the mould of elite bands like
Death, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, and even
second-tier noisemakers like Massacre. However, roughly at the same time
these bands were creating their legacy, Entombed was across the pond
defining the sound and an era.

Entombed created the sound of classic Swedish death metal, and while
“Left Hand Path” is certainly not as good as it ever got, it’s damn
good. In my meaningless opinion, there is no better metal than classic
Swedish death. It’s quite simply perfect.

Songwriting

9. Death metal rarely gets as good as the opener, “Left Hand Path.”
It’s got everything. It’s got the non-musical short introduction, the
pounding bass drum being mirrored by the plodding bass guitar part, at
least a handful of classic riffs, killer leads, a synth-driven bridge,
and a slow, doomy outro with guitar solos that fit the song and the
atmosphere like a glove.

For the time, this was some of the best death metal the world had
ever heard, and it’s held up wonderfully over the past two decades. Most
of the tracks on the album are actually classics now, and the opening
riff of “Abnormally Deceased” should be the fucken blueprint for all
other classic death metal riffs.

Production

8. It was recorded and mixed at Sunlight Studios in Stockholm in
1989. Just by knowing that, you already know what the production sounds
like. The guitars sound like buzz saws made of bass, midrange, and a
thousand angry hornets. The toms are sharp and lifeless. The vocals are
aggressive raspy. The one surprise is that the bass sound is noticeably
present, cutting through the mix a few times to add that much-needed
extra dimension of heaviness.

Guitars

9. Believe it or not, this is the album that spawned thousands of
clones. The loud, throaty, detuned, bass-heavy distortion that defined
essentially the entire early ’90s Swedish death metal scene from
Dismember to Unleashed is in full force on this album, courtesy of the
legendary Boss HM-2 distortion pedal. Show me any respectable metal
guitarist who says he has not tried emulate that glorious buzz-saw tone
at least once through his rig, and I’ll show you a liar.

In any case, the guitars are extremely distorted and muddy but yet
clearly distinguishable, which was a staple of the death metal of that
era. The riffs are catchy as hell and the leads range from simple and
memorable to impossible-to-reproduce early death metal wankery.
Nonetheless, the performance stands as a seminal achievement in metal
history.

Vocals

9,5. It’s fucken L-G Petrov. What more could you want? His growls
and howls are nothing short of legendary on this record, sounding truly
evil and torturous. Along with David Vincent’s performance on Morbid
Angel’s Altars of Madness across the pond, Petrov set the
standard for a decade of death metal growls. Even the goofy yell at the
end of “Revel in Flesh” and forced clean vocals in “Bitter Loss” are
awesome.

Bass

8. And that’s on a scale from 0 to “Saltrubbed Eyes,” so 8 is pretty
fucken good. It’s got a good snarl and a good thunderous rumble,
especially in loud speakers, but it has just always seemed to be missing
a little extra punch to send it over the top, especially since it has a
tendency to disappear from time to time inexplicably.

Drums

4. Honestly, the drums on this album just seem brash and amateurish.
There isn’t a single moment when I’m even remotely blown away while
listening to it, but I think that actually adds to some of the charm of
the overall sound of the record. Nicke Andersson is definitely not on
the same level of brutality and groove with Tobias Gustafsson or
anything (then again, who is). In fact, he’s not even good, but he does
keep the beat for one of the best death metal records ever recorded, and
for that, I commend him.

Lyrics

6. I can only find lyrics for three songs, and I really don’t give
nearly enough of a shit to try to decipher the rest. The ones you can
understand are your standard anti-christian-meets-gore lyrical fare that
we’ve all heard a thousand times before.

Cover art

9,5. This still stands as one of my favorite album covers of all
time and one of many classic textbook examples of Dan Seagrave’s
prowess. It just fits the album so perfectly. You’re walking alone along
a random chasm in a dark, dreary forest. Ahead you see what looks to be
a bridge, apparently, made of roots or some shit, but as you try to
decipher where it leads, you suddenly notice a large, menacing, lone
gravestone…that is taking a piss on the sidewalk. Classic.

Logo

9. Seeing as this band was formed by members of Nihilist so they
wouldn’t have to fire super-douche bassist, Johnny Hedlund, the Entombed
logo makes a striking resemblance to the Nihilist logo. Either way,
Entombed sports one of the most iconic and instantly recognizable logos
in the death metal world. It’s sharp and angular while retaining 100% of
it’s legibility. Fucken classic. The rusty blood color that’s accented
with tombstone-piss yellow really makes for a nice touch on the album
cover too.

Booklet

2. There sure as shit aren’t any lyrics in it. You get a nice
extended section titled “Thanks and Hi there!” Yes, really. Oh, and a
black-and-white picture of the band standing near a large cross in the
ground. Whatever.

Overall and ending rant

This is the album that kick-started a revolution. What I’ve come
know and love as Swedish death metal owes a great deal of gratitude and
tribute to this album for defining the sound of an era and making the
scene the best in entire metal world. Is it the best slab of death metal
to emerge from Sweden during the past two decades? Hell no. It’s not
even the best album to come out of Stockholm. But this album does
deserve a ton of credit and infinite respect for its effect on the
scene.

9

  • Information
  • Released: 1990
  • Label: Earache Records
  • Website: www.entombed.org
  • Band
  • Lars-Göran Petrov: vocals
  • Ulf “Uffe” Cederlund: guitars, bass
  • Alex Hellid: guitars
  • Nicke Andersson: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Left Hand Path
  • 02. Drowned
  • 03. Revel in Flesh
  • 04. When Life Has Ceased
  • 05. Supposed to Rot
  • 06. But Life Goes On
  • 07. Bitter Loss
  • 08. Morbid Devourment
  • 09. Abnormally Deceased
  • 10. The Truth Beyond
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This entry was posted on June 29, 2014 by in Class6(66).
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