Death 'n' Roll

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Death ‘n’ roll bands incorporates groovy riffs and beats as well as other elements from more traditional metal and hardrock, such as more rock-oriented guitar solos and simpler riffage, into their style, and often make use of midtempo paces. This style arose in the 1990s in the wake of the popularity of Pantera’s groove-oriented heavy metal, which revolutionized thrash metal and influenced other types of metal, too. Entombed and Gorefest were among the creators of death ‘n’ roll, and other examples of death ‘n’ roll artists are Six Feet Under, Debauchery, We Are the Damned, and Malignant Tumour.

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ENTOMBED Morning Star Album Cover Morning Star
ENTOMBED
4.33 | 18 ratings
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ENTOMBED Wolverine Blues Album Cover Wolverine Blues
ENTOMBED
3.97 | 31 ratings
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ENTOMBED Uprising Album Cover Uprising
ENTOMBED
4.18 | 7 ratings
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ENTOMBED Inferno Album Cover Inferno
ENTOMBED
4.20 | 6 ratings
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GOREFEST Soul Survivor Album Cover Soul Survivor
GOREFEST
3.93 | 14 ratings
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CARCASS Swansong Album Cover Swansong
CARCASS
3.63 | 34 ratings
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GOREFEST Erase Album Cover Erase
GOREFEST
3.50 | 6 ratings
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ENTOMBED DCLXVI - To Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth Album Cover DCLXVI - To Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth
ENTOMBED
3.39 | 10 ratings
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CONVULSE Reflections

Album · 1994 · Death 'n' Roll
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"Reflections" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Finnish death metal act Convulse. The album was released through Relapse Records in June 1994, almost 3 years after the release of the band´s debut full-length studio album "World Without God (1991)". "Reflections" was already recorded at Sunlight Studios in late 1992/early 1993, but a number of lineup changes took place between the two albums and also a label change, which probably resulted in the long time between the debut album and the sophomore release (in those days 3 years between albums, were a pretty long time). Guitarist Jani Kuhanen died in 1992 and was replaced by Toni Honkala, drummer Janne Miikkulainen has been replaced by Juppo Paavola, and Aki Yli-Salomäki has been added to the lineup as lead vocalist. So guitarist/vocalist Rami Jämsä and bassist Juha Telenius are the only remaining members of the lineup who recorded "World Without God (1991)".

Maybe it was the change in personel or maybe it was just the musical current at the time, which caused a drastic stylistic change, but the sound on "Reflections" is vastly different from the old school death metal sound of "World Without God (1991)". The listener is treated to a death´n´roll sound which isn´t far removed from what contemporary artists like Entombed, Gorefest, and Furbowl, were releasing at the time (just even less death metal oriented). I´m sure the stylistic development must have come as quite a shock to the fans, because there is very little here which reveal that it´s the same artist who released both "World Without God (1991)" and "Reflections". Other than the brutal growling vocals (which is occasionally complimented by a raw heavy metal oriented vocal style) there is nothing on "Reflections" which is death metal oriented. This is purely hard rock influenced heavy metal.

The playing is organic and the same can be said about the sound production. It´s not the most well sounding production, and unfortunately the songwriting is also a bit one-dimensional and the tracks are generally hard to tell apart. Considering that most hard rock/heavy metal artists aim and succeed at creating catchy and anthemic material, Convulse seem to have forgotten that part of composing less extreme material. Most listeners can accept that extreme metal albums can be a bit one-dimensional in style and that tracks aren´t always easy to tell apart, but when you release something like this, the listener expects a certain degree of cathiness to the material. It´s not that the band aren´t able to make the music swing with an organic playing style, but the material simply isn´t catchy enough. Add to that a sound production which isn´t that well sounding, and "Reflections" overall comes off a bit mediocre. Especially compared to other contemporary releases in a similar style. A 2.5 - 3 star (55%) rating is warranted.

CARCASS Swansong

Album · 1996 · Death 'n' Roll
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"Swansong" is the 5th full-length studio album by UK death metal/heavy metal act Carcass. The album was released through Earache Records in June 1996. "Heartwork (1993)" proved to be a huge success for Carcass, who attracted the attention of major label Columbia Records. The label payed the band a recording advance of no less than $200,000, which the band used to enter the studio with producer Colin Richardson in early 1995. Carcass and Columbia Records had several clashes during the recording sessions over the direction of the material, and the label was not satisfied with the 17 tracks the band had written. Therefore the release of the album was postposed from late 1995 to June 1996 during which time Carcass were dropped by Columbia Records and subsequently returned to Earache Records. Before the release of the album, the band had split-up though, which of course makes "Swansong" a perfectly fitting title.

There has been one lineup change since the release of "Heartwork (1993)", as Swedish guitarist Michael Amott has been replaced by Carlo Regadas. Amott actually left shortly after recording his parts for "Heartwork (1993)" and was initially replaced by Mike Hickey, who himself was then replaced by Regadas. Amott soon after formed Spiritual Beggars and then Arch Enemy.

Stylistically there have been quite a few changes since "Heartwork (1993)", which should actually come as no surprise, as none of the previous Carcass albums have sounded the same either, although there has never been any doubt, that it it a Carcass release you´re listening to. "Heartwork (1993)" added a lot of melody and heavy metal elements to the band´s death metal sound, and on "Swansong" they take that approach even further. Jeff Walker´s raw snarling vocals are the most extreme feature of the music, and although the instrumental part of the music still features the occasional nod towards death metal, it´s actually best described as a hard edged heavy metal style. The tracks are generally "straight" vers/chorus structured, they feature hard rock/heavy metal rhythms and pretty basic heavy metal riffing, and loads melodic guitar solos and harmony guitar themes. The latter part of the sound is obviously influenced a great deal by artists like Thin Lizzy and Wishbone Ash.

The material on the 12 track, 50:05 minutes long album are generally well written and relatively catchy. It´s a bit one-dimensional in nature though, and a bit more variation between tracks would have been nice. Carcass have always had an understated humourous approach (even on their goregrind releases), and that approach is a bit more obvious on "Swansong" in song titles like "Keep on Rotting in the Free World" and "R**k the Vote". It never becomes silly though, so they generally tread that fine line with grace. "Swansong" features a powerful, organic, and detailed sound production, so upon conclusion it´s another quality release by Carcass. It is a step down from the preceeding two albums though, but given the extremely influential nature and great success of both of those releases, it´s not unexpected Carcass couldn´t keep up the incredible heights of their past output. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is still well deserved though.

BLACKSTAR Barbed Wire Soul

Album · 1997 · Death 'n' Roll
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"Barbed Wire Soul" is the debut full-length studio album by UK heavy metal act Blackstar. The album was released through Peaceville Records in September 1997. "Barbed Wire Soul" was released through Metal Blade Records for the American market, but under the Blackstar Rising monicker, because the band found out that another act had the rights to the Blackstar name in the US. Blackstar formed in 1995 after Carcass disbanded and features 3/4 of the lineup, who recorded "Swansong (1996)" (which was released posthumously). Guitarist Bill Steer went on to other projects, but bassist/vocalist Jeff Walker, guitarist Carlo Regadas, and drummer Ken Owen opted to stay together and form Blackstar. The lineup is completed by second guitarist Mark Griffiths, who among other things had a stint with Cathedral as their bassist in the early 90s.

Listeners familiar with "Swansong (1996)", know that at the end of Carcass original run, they played a 70s influenced death´n´roll style which actually had very little in common with what came before. "Barbed Wire Soul" pretty much continues that style but sheds any death metal element which was left on "Swansong (1996)" (and those elements were arguably few). So the music is basically a 70s influenced heavy rock/metal style, with Jeff Walker singing/snarling in key instead of snarling slightly in key as he more or less did on "Swansong (1996)". The tracks are vers/chorus structured and easy to follow. The playing is organic yet tight and Walker´s new and less extreme vocal approach suits the material well. He reminds me of a combination of mid-90s Mille Petrozza from Kreator and Dave Mustaine from Megadeth on some of that band´s most hard rock/heavy metal oriented material.

The overall musical direction of the material is generally not a major revolution of sound but it´s solid and relatively entertaining. The most progressive aspect is probably the occasional use of saxophone, but other than that it´s pretty basic vocals, bass, drums, and two guitars hard rocking heavy metal. The album features a well sounding production, which suits the material well. So upon conclusion "Barbed Wire Soul" is a decent quality release by Blackstar. It´s not necessarily the most memorable nor the most interesting release in the genre, but it´s definitely a great listen while it plays. A 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is deserved.

DOMINUS The First 9

Album · 1996 · Death 'n' Roll
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"The First 9" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Danish death metal act Dominus. The album was released through Progress Records in 1996. Dominus formed in 1991 and they were one of the more active and prolific death metal acts on the Danish underground scene of the early 90s. They released two demos and the "Sidereal Path of Colours" single in 1993 before releasing their debut full-length studio album "View to the Dim" in 1994. Today Dominus are probably mostly known for being the first child of Volbeat frontman Michael Poulsen, but the early recordings by Dominus couldn´t be much further from the rock´n´roll infused rock/metal of Volbeat. There have been two lineup changes since the release of "View to the Dim (1994)" as lead guitarist Mads Hansen has been replaced by Jens Peter Storm and drummer Jess Larsen has been replaced by Lars Hald. The remaining members of the lineup are Michael Poulsen (vocals, guitars) and Jesper Olsen (bass).

"The First 9" is a concept release. It´s in short a horror/fantasy story about a dream kingdom ruled by the Crystal Demon served by 9 demons and how the protagonist is to complete the birth of the 9 demons by sacrificing 9 people. Stylistically the music on the 10 track, 35:54 minutes long album is quite different sounding to the predominantly old school death metal style of "View to the Dim (1994)". While "View to the Dim (1994)" is mostly an old school death metal release, it also features quite a few groove metal oriented riffs and rhythms, and the groove elements are further developed upon on "The First 9". In fact the music style is a groove oriented death´n´roll style and while there are traces of old school death metal in the music, that element has been scaled back considerably. While there are differences too there are also quite a few similarities to the groove laden death metal of fellow countrymen in Illdisposed. The vocals have become a lot more intelligible and more aggressive growling and there are male clean vocals on the album too (delivered by producer Casper Munkebo). The latter vocal style only occurs occasionally and sounds slightly like Dave Mustaine (Megadeth).

The quality of the material on the album is pretty good and the songwriting is relatively memorable. Some tracks are more memorable than others, and some don´t stand out as much, but the quality is overall decent. The musicianship is solid and the two new members bring a lot to the music. Compared to "View to the Dim (1994)", the sound production on "The First 9" is also a major upgrade and the music sounds both raw, powerful, and detailed. So upon conclusion "The First 9" is a definite step up in quality from the debut, but it´s also quite the musical development and the two albums could basically have been released by two different artists. That´s how different they sound. A 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is warranted.

ENTOMBED A.D. Bowels Of Earth

Album · 2019 · Death 'n' Roll
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"Bowels Of Earth" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Swedish death metal act Entombed A.D.. The album was released through Century Media Records in August 2019. It´s the successor to "Dead Dawn" from 2016 and features one lineup change since the predecessor as second guitarist Guilherme Miranda has been added to the lineup, making Entombed A.D. a five-piece on "Bowels Of Earth".

Stylistically the material on "Bowels Of Earth" is a continuation of the old school Swedish death metal style of the two predecessors. It´s slightly darker and features less death´n´roll elements (although they are still there. An example is the guitar solo section on "Elimination"), but it´s nuances and ultimately "Bowels Of Earth" sounds unmistakably like Entombed A.D.. The regular version of the album features 9 originals and a cover of "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive" by country musician Hank Williams, while the limited edition of the album features an additional cover track in "Back at the Funny Farm" by Motörhead.

The musicianship is strong and lead vocalist L-G Petrov still delivers a distinct sounding growling attack, although his vocal style has changed a bit over the years. He is slightly more monotone these days, but his vocals are still decent. The material on the album are generally well written and mostly fairly memorable, but some tracks a bit unremarkable. Highlights to my ears are the album opener "Torment Remains", the title track, "Fit for a King", and "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive". The latter is actually the most standout track on the album, and that´s of course a bit worrying, when a cover track is the most interesting song on an album, but the other tracks are of a good quality too.

"Bowels Of Earth" features a raw and powerful sound production, so it´s a quality release on most parameters. The songwriting could have been a little more memorable and there are some moments on the album which are maybe a bit dull or at least sounds much like something we´ve heard before (and better) from the band. Mostly though "Bowels Of Earth" is another good quality death metal release by Entombed A.D. and a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

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