Before this once excellent band decided it would be a good idea to try to sound like AC/DC, they were pumping out violent, Hardcore Punk influenced, grimy Death Metal. If the precursor to this band, NIHILIST, are considered the originators of Swedish styled Death Metal, consider ENTOMBED to be the architects.
Starting out with a sample from "Hellraiser", the title track wastes no time in destroying all in its path. A furious buzzsaw guitar sound which would become signature of the scene is on full display here. On this release, there are absolutely no fillers. From the D-Beat influenced "When Life Has Ceased" and "Revel In Flesh" (whoever says Punk had nothing to do with Metal's development, you will be proven wrong here), to riff monsters like "Supposed To Rot", each track is a well calculated tremolo picked assault on the eardrums. Many of these songs originally were in fact NIHILIST songs. The re-recording takes away a bit of their dirty and raw edge, but the quality of each song shines through. Some re-issues have two bonus tracks, "Carnal Leftovers" and "Premature Autopsy" (which opens with a riff that sounds very similar to "Hammer Smashed Face" by CANNIBAL CORPSE, perhaps I have caught CC in an act of theft?).
This music has all the subtlety of a freight train, yet its directness is its main strength. There is no need for electronic beeps and boops, half Thrash riffs, needless hyperblasting, or poorly implemented keyboards. Carried by some excellent songwriting (see the last few minutes of the title track for a very good example), this release is one that has lasting value. Any Death Metal fan who is not in possession of this fine debut is lacking, as this is an album one will value years to come from purchasing it. That, for me, is the true measure of great music. Trends may come and go, and have their fans, but at the end of the day, what album do you think ENTOMBED fans want to hear songs off of? The answer is evident, so I will leave figuring it out up to you, reader.
(Online November 24, 2009)