1990, Music

Left Hand Path (1990) by Entombed

The early history and evolution of death metal is controversial. Like many genres of music, it’s possible that it was invented in two different places around the same time. (Or, rather, the sounds that came to be called death metal appeared in two different countries around the same time.) I’ve always found this evolution nebulous and, frankly, I don’t care enough to learn the full details. (It is, after all, a niche genre.) But it’s relevant here because my understanding is that this is the record that helped launch death metal in Scandinavia. That’s important because of Scandinavia’s importance in extreme metal from that point on but also because, according to some, this record was the first to meld together both American and British death metal.

I don’t honestly know if that’s true, but I suspect it’s accurate enough. This album is certainly closer to what I think of as “death metal” than many of the ’80s pioneers. (There’s also a touch of doom, I’d say.)

The music is loud and pummeling. There is plenty of growling. There is also a good degree of complexity and there’s some fast playing. Apparently this album invented a particular type of distortion that became extremely popular with Swedish death metal bands in the 1990s. I don’t know anything about that, but I will saw the guitars sound particularly buzzy compared to, say, traditioanl thrash metal guitars.

My only quibble, really, is the production, which strikes me as a little thin. (It’s possible that it was pretty hard to capture this guitar sound without sacrificing something else.) Or maybe I just need to adjust my headphones…

Given that I don’t know if this record actually invented Swedish death metal, I’m not sure I need to give it higher marks. But, as death metal goes, this record gives you what you want.

8/10

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