Death Metal Roundup: Exhumed’s All Guts, No Glory, Entrenched’s Preemptive Strike, and Book of Black Earth’s The Cold Testament

I was never a huge death metal fan; I started with power/speed metal, then to thrash, then somehow skipped over death’s emergence with Death, Morbid Angel, Obituary, Pestilence, etc., and went straight to black metal (with doom in the background the whole time, natch).

But these three were so much fun (and had some distinct thrash elements, like Sodom or Kreator) that I keep listening over and over.

They try to say they’re “no genre” in the downloads, but whatfuckingever– it’s old school “brutal” death metal.

Does that mean something to you? If if does– this is AWESOME.

It’s utterly generic, but done as well as humanly possible– really cool, fun stuff. It’s actually the most fun I’ve had listening to death metal since the last Hail of Bullets album.

Unless I indicate otherwise below, assume every track on All Guts, No Glory follows that blueprint– simple, three- or four-chord riffs with atonal, whammy-heavy solos, detuned riffs (way down to B, a fifth below standard, the home of Pelican and –natch?– Hail of Bullets), also screamed vocals….

Track 2, “As Hammer to Anvil” rivals pretty much anyone else in terms of fury and speed (even though the riff is basically just the open string picked as fast as possible, with an occasional pinch harmonic)… about half way through we get the normal death metal breakdown, lead-in to solo– but: so well done it’s distinct.

“Through Cadaver Eyes” so fast and mean you’ll want to listen again and again… (unless you’re in more of a Sara Bareilles mood, I guess*)… and despite being so brutal, the instrumentation is also agile and able to turn on a time without disappearing up its own butt, à la some progressive death metal….

Possible highlight “Death Knell” is blistering, breakneck-paced thrash/death, with a melodic solo like Sadus… then, at 3 minutes hits that sweet spot of death metal with a simple five-chord outro, complete with tolling bells… it only competes with:

“I Rot Within,” all fury, even faster than the above tracks, even angrier… catchy, and overall probably the best track here, and:

“Necrotized,” which flirts with tech death for a second, but is quickly back to old school-death-bordering-on-thrash (like Sodom)….

Great stuff. Furious-yet-considered, intricate-yet-simple, funny-yet-serious….

Like death metal? You will enjoy this. It’s “fun” death metal: stupid but intense, the musical equivalent of a movie like Shoot ’em up or Drive Angry.

Bonus Points: final track, “So let it be rotten, so let it be done” a death-metally pun on the refrain from Metallica’s “Creeping Death.”

Entrenched are markedly similar, except for some tiny but interesting details: they’re pretty much brand new compared to vets Exhumed; they’re just two guys; they’re too metal to use Pro Tools; and they love what they do.


I remember an interview with Venom’s Mantas talking about the recording of Welcome to Hell. In it, he was laughing about the lack of synchronizing music recording software, and (at that time) even a lack of click tracks (i.e., no mechanical back-up plan to guarantee the same tempo is maintained during the whole song). He said you could put on the record at the beginning, listen, and then pick up the needle and move right to the end of the same song, which would have gotten noticeably faster.

Entrenched are all over the tempo map, often within the same song. Songs speed up, and up, and up….

This is not a dig: this is fucking cool as all hell….

I’m no expert, but I would bet this was recorded in their basement, live, with the cheapest recording devices they could find. This atmosphere, not unlike 5am jam sessions recorded on a tape player with Coltrane and Monk (Live at the Five Spot, i.e.), lends the whole thing an true air of …sorry, TR00 air… of enthusiasm and passion. These guys in Entrenched love playing old school death metal and it’s obvious. The songs aren’t as well-written as Exhumed, they’re not as well recorded or engineered, their musicianship isn’t as obvious–

–but when “Bred to Kill” or “Burnt and Destroyed” are blazing along burning everything in their path you won’t remember that.

Preemptive Strike, both lyrically and musically is Sodom and Kreator meet Hail of Bullets. That’s the short version….

Oh: and like Guinness needing to stand 2 minutes after a draught pour, Preemptive Strike is 100 times better loud as shit with a ton of bass (even more than most metal).

Lastly we have Book of Black Earth and The Cold Testament. They’ve tuned up (to Db, Black Sabbath and Howl’s preferred tuning) from the much lower B tuning on previous LP Horoskopus, and they manage to sound even heavier, following a similar sound evolution to Behemoth– the songs aren’t as muddy as previously, and the guitars sound like they evolved from giant boulder catapults to mortars– smaller and streamlined, but much more dangerous.

“Road Dogs from Hell” is an awesome death metal answer to songs like Metallica’s “Whiplash” or Motorhead’s “We Are the Road Crew,” a cheeky punkish peon to life on the road– you know, like “Wanted Dead or Alive.” Album closer “I See Demons” is a slow burner, almost doomy at times.

Thank you, I’ve been Horn, and that’s my time. Tip your waitresses, please. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow. Good night, and good luck. Satan be with you.

*Not judging. Everyone needs some “Long Song” now and again.


  1. BoBE gets better and better each time I listen to it. It’s just so absurdly catchy. Album of the Year contender for me at the moment with a couple of others.

  2. I’m really enjoying the Book of Black Earth and will probably do a post on it myself. Road Dogs from Hell is a cracking song, definitely the most memorable. I’ve been teaching my two yo to sing the chorus (minus the fucks of course!).

    Might have to spin the other two you mention….

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