Century Media Records/Sony Music Australia
Reviewed By Michael O'Brien
You’d have to think that there’s a fair bit riding on the success of Dead Dawn, the second full-length album from Entombed A.D. (the band featuring founding Entombed vocalist LG Petrov as well as ex-Entombed members from later in Entombed’s history) after the very tepid debut release, 2014’s Back to the Front.
Despite the absence of a massive pillar of the classic Entombed sound - Alex Hellid on guitar - Back to the Front actually managed to retain much, if not all, of the typical, well-known Entombed sound. Its central problem was that it simply wasn’t a particularly interesting album overall because, frankly, the song-writing just wasn’t all that good. Dead Dawn - the second release bearing the Entombed A.D. moniker - largely continues where Back to the Front left off with a slight uptick in compositional quality but nowhere near enough to deem it a classic.
“Midas in Reverse” kicks Dead Dawn off in unexpectedly strong fashion with an upbeat tempo and the kind of buzzing, chainsaw guitar tone that you’d not only expect, but demand from a Swedeath band. The compositional quality continues on the titular track, which is somewhat reminiscent of the kind of material found on 1991’s Clandestine, and onto the rollicking death ‘n’ roll of “Down to Mars to Ride”. In fact, the entire first half of Dead Dawn is surprisingly strong, especially when you consider not only how ordinary Back to the Front was but also how patchy latter day Entombed was as well.
Things aren’t all rosy here, however, with a few largely forgettable numbers making their way into the proceedings at the tail end of the album. “Hubris Fall”, for example, does flirt with greatness with its solid central riff but it ultimately gets bogged down by what feels like a lack of real direction, while “Black Survival” and album closer “Not What it Seems” are both OK tracks in their own right but fail to really do much to capture the imagination and veer dangerously close to feeling like filler.
So, from a compositional perspective, Dead Dawn is actually rather strong and this strength is carried through into the performances and the production, too. In fact, if there’s one performance that stands out the most to me it is that of guitarist Nico Elgstrand who not only carves up the bread and butter death ‘n’ roll riffs but also turns in some really tasty lead work across the album as well. The only player that I actually think needed to reel it back a little is, ironically, LG Petrov. His performance itself is totally fine and is exactly what you’d expect from him, but I would have liked to have him feature just a little less prominently on the album so the riffs could breathe and resonate a little more. He doesn’t quite smother things, but his touch is everywhere and I think just a little more restraint might’ve made a big difference. It’s a minor nitpick though and probably doesn’t make a huge difference in the scheme of things.
I can’t see Dead Dawn going down as a classic “Entombed” album that will stand next to Left Hand Path, Clandestine, or even Wolverine Blues, and it may not even wind up being considered to be an essential one, but it is head and shoulders above anything that has come out of this camp in a number of years.
This may sound a little dramatic, but it’s felt to me like the reputation and legacy of this extremely important, seminal death metal act has been trodden into the mud for a lot longer than not, so this sense of renewal or maybe even rebirth, if you’re so inclined, is more than welcome.
More from Entombed A.D.
- Back to the Front [review]