The origins of Swedish death metal unit Entrails date back to the early '90s, when guitarist Jimmy Lundqvist was inspired by the emergence and underground success of death metal bands in that country, including now-iconic acts like Entombed. While several songs were written, their attempts to solidify a demo were never fully realized, and it seemed the band was destined for a quick death. But you can't keep a good monster down... and after nearly two decades, Lundqvist came across the original tapes and realized the material still had potential, finally deciding to give it another shot. The result was a pair of demos which garnered critical praise, convincing Lundqvist he had sired a lethal beast after all. He then assembled a lineup of musicians for the 2010 debut album Tales From The Morgue, followed just a year later with another full-length, The Tomb Awaits, and the hails just kept coming in, heralding the return of the early '90s "Stockholm sound" and blowing away audiences at festivals like Germany's Summer Breeze. So that's our backstory, culminating with the band signing to legendary label Metal Blade Records, who have just released Entrails' third full-length offering, Raging Death.
The ten tracks the band has laid down here not only reflect the influence of early-era compatriots Entombed and Dismember, but also long-standing US acts like Autopsy (whom we've featured many times on these pages, and will again), all the while capturing that extreme, ear-mangling distortion that typifies the early Stockholm style, but there's also a distinct nod to early thrash and some raunchy '80s British sound in the mix, as well as an enveloping horror atmosphere. The combined effect comes across well in the opener "In Pieces" (which you can hear at the end of this review), with caustic, larynx-ripping vocals from bassist Joakim Svensson and churning, river-of-lava riffs from Lundqvist and fellow guitarist Mathias Nilsson punched up by stormy beats from Adde Mitroulis to create a wide dynamic range, all wrapped in ominous ambiance.
Despite that wider spectrum, rest assured the old-school vibe is still there, and emerges triumphant in the cuts "Descend To The Beyond," "Carved To The Bone" and the especially heavy hitter "Cemetery Horrors" which closes the album. As with much of classic death metal, the mighty riff is god, and Entrails' dual guitarists don't disappoint in that department, laying down hooks like there's no tomorrow – whether it's the slower grind of "Bloodhammer,” the gritty groove of "Cadaverous Stench" or the merciless momentum of "Headless Dawn" and "Death League," there are strong and memorable melodic riffs throughout the album, with some solid and often creepy solo work from Nilsson (“In Pieces” sports a particularly spooky example of this), and there's even some potent breakdowns, particularly on tracks like "Chained And Dragged."
With Raging Death, Entrails manage to call upon the same raw energy that their founder first summoned in the early '90s, and the hookier riffs, haunting solos and occasionally cinematic sound design don't steal that vintage thunder at all; if anything, those elements help keep the material fresh, and the eerie leads, keyboard passages and hot-and-cold dynamics give it an extra infusion of horror. You'll hear what I mean on the single “In Pieces,” which you can spin right here: