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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
4.20 | 15 ratings
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ENTOMBED Wolverine Blues Album Cover Wolverine Blues
4.00 | 29 ratings
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GOREFEST Soul Survivor Album Cover Soul Survivor
3.94 | 13 ratings
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CARCASS Swansong Album Cover Swansong
3.60 | 28 ratings
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GOREFEST Erase Album Cover Erase
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
3.31 | 8 ratings
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Bowels Of Earth
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Album · 1994 · Death 'n' Roll
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"Erase" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Dutch death metal act Gorefest. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in July 1994. Gorefest had experienced a relative amount of success with both "Mindloss (1991)" and "False (1992)", and were in those days widely awknowledged as one of the most prolific death metal artsts out of The Netherlands.

With the addition of guitarist Boudewijn Bonebakker to the lineup on "False (1992)" a musical tranformation began though, and the results of that change was first heard on "Erase". While both "Mindloss (1991)" and "False (1992)" are arguably old school death metal releases to the bone, the sophistication in the guitar and harmony department were enhanced with the addition of Bonebakker to the ranks. He made it clear from the start that he wasn´t interested in just playing basic death metal, but that he wanted to incorporate a more melodic and rock oriented touch to the music, inspired by his great love of 70s and 80s heavy metal and hard rock.

Stylistically that change is clearly heard on "Erase" which features several elements from 70s and 80s heavy metal and hard rock in addition to maintaining a death metal basis. The many guitar harmonies are one of great assets of the music, and a feature the band focus on much more than before on "Erase". I wouldn´t label the music death´n´roll, but at times it´s very close to that description and it wouldn´t be completely wrong to tag the music as that. Jan-Chris De Koeijer (vocals, bass) has changed his vocal style slightly too. He is less of a growler and more or a raw barking shouter on this album.

The musicianship is strong. Gorefest were at this point a tight playing unit. Diverse rhythmic playing by drummer Ed Warby (who would later find fame with Ayreon and a bunch of other projects), great harmony guitar work and solos and catchy powerful riffs, and De Koeijer´s distinct sounding vocals in front.

The 8 tracks on the 42:21 minutes long album are all relatively catchy and powerful, and feature great guitar work. The latter element is to my ears the highlight of the album and at times the harmony guitar themes are rather sophisticated. Tracks like "Low", "Erase", "To Hell and Back", and "Goddess in Black", are among the standout tracks, but as mentioned "Erase" is a strong release throughout. It´s also a relavitely diverse release and tracks like "Peace of Paper" and "Goddess in Black" stick out as being a bit different than the rest of the material. The former is the most death metal oriented track on the album and even features a couple of blast beat sections, where the rest of the material is predominantly heavy or mid-paced. The latter mentioned track is slow paced and slightly more atmospheric than the remaining tracks.

"Erase" features a powerful and well sounding production, which suits the music perfectly. It´s not as brutal or in your face as the productions of previous releases, but it suits the more sophisticated sound well. "Erase" is probably a fanbase divider as it could prove not to be old school and brutal enough for the fans of Gorefest early material and as a consequence of the still relatively brutal vocals, it may prove a bit to harsh for those who enjoy the more rock oriented part of the band´s sound, but personally I think they strike a good balance here and a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

XYSMA The First and Magical

Album · 1993 · Death 'n' Roll
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siLLy puPPy
Although XYSMA started out as one of Finland’s first grindcore bands near the city of Turku, the band’s involvement with the Swedish death metal scene altered their development substantially as one can hear from the detour on the early demos to the eclectic mix of death, doom and grindcore on the debut “Yeah!” The band befriended one of Sweden’s more popular death metal bands, namely Entombed and with the success of their 1993 “Wolverine Blues” the Entombed inspired a whole new legion of followers with the strange newfangled musical hybrid. That would be the silly titled death ’n’ roll tag which took the death metal traits that included guttural growls and heavy distorted guitars and married them with compositional constructs of 70s rock and roll and heavy metal.

XYSMA jumped on this bandwagon and while elements were present on the debut, the band went full death ’n’ roll on the sophomore album FIRST AND MAGICAL. Gone were the Napalm Death influences and in was a unique mix of Carcass sounding death metal mixed with 70s blues oriented hard rock. Hardly a combo one would consider to attract a new legion of followers. In fact, out of all the subgenera of metal that were splintering off in the early 90s, this is the one that probably attracted the fewest newcomers mostly because it doesn’t really sound very compelling unless the elements are balanced just right. While Entombed did a pretty good job on “Wolverine Blues,” they didn’t really manage to follow up with anything of equal stature.

As far as XYSMA’s take on this weird combo style, they pretty much follow the Entombed playbook and created a similarly fashioned sound. While XYSMA had great potential in what they crafted as their own unique style, they always seemed to botch up aspects of their albums that made it a bumpy ride. Same goes for FIRST AND MAGICAL which starts off with a rather silly sound check sequence that bookends the entire album. After the initial head scratching moment, “One More Time” starts off as 70s hard rock which makes you think the band had abandoned metal altogether however after a few measures it finally adds the death metal bombast. Despite the awkwardness it does demonstrate perfectly as to how the two styles are mixed. Once the groove is established and the death metal moments are churning out, a psychedelic keyboard appears that makes this album a tad surreal.

All in all, the tracks that sport the death ’n’ roll tag are not bad at all. The groovy hard rock aspects keep a nice melodic flow while the pummeling percussion and riffs add the proper bombast as does Janitor Mustasch’s growly death vocals. The band had really stepped up the musical tightness since “Yeah!” Mustasch and Olivier Lawny provide the stellar twin guitar attacks as they simultaneously create the double melodic counterpoints that keep the groove on. The biggest head scratcher comes in the form of the all acoustic “Can’t Imagine Your Death” which sounds like a completely different band. In fact it sounds like some rejected track off of Led Zeppelin III as it has a similarly styled guitar chord progression but lacks the intensity of anything the great Led Zep cranked out not to mention Mustasch’s vocals sound ridiculous.

While XYSMA does a decent job tackling the death ’n’ roll style of death metal, i can’t say that this is a style of death metal that really works for the most part and although the album is mostly played spot on, the compositions themselves seem to be lacking in some unknown substance that is needed to spice them up. Add to the fact that the silliest moments sort of derail the entire flow of the album which means this album doesn’t stack up against some of sub’s greatest moments that bands like Entombed and Gorefest dished out. There are some great moments on this one and at a short playing time of just over 31 minutes it doesn’t wear out its welcome either. It’s just not compelling enough to call great.

ENTOMBED Wolverine Blues

Album · 1993 · Death 'n' Roll
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Entombed: one of the Big Four in Swedish death metal and the first of the four that I was to encounter on CD. Fairly recently. Like, a few months ago and nearly three decades after the band's career commenced. As with many old school death metal bands I have gotten acquainted with, I found out about Entombed by watching old school death metal playlists on YouTube. Of course, the album usually mentioned is "Left Hand Path" with some attention also going to "Clandestine". It was either of these two that I had to choose for my first purchase. Then I saw "Wolverine Blues".

Blues?! A death metal band is using the word "blues" in an album title? And Wolverine? Even at the time this album was released, the X-Men character was well known. What on earth were these Swedes up to?

So, I checked out some songs on YouTube and, well, wow! Consider this: I had been checking out a couple of dozen bands or more in a subgenre I was not too familiar with and had previously avoided. At first, everybody sounded awesome. But after a while, everybody sounded similar. I wanted to find that band or album that did something different to make it stand apart from the usual death metal environment. This album certainly did stand out.

After two death metal albums in Swedish style, Entombed decided to get into some other stuff and came up with an album that sounds like a conconction of mid-seventies Black Sabbath and Motorhead with some hardcore peppered in. In-your-face, angry biker style vocals, really growly, dirty, massive-rusty-industrial-chain guitar sound, and a rhythm section that almost swaggers, this album took a death metal band in such a new direction that they called this music "death n' roll". While the title probably was supposed to sound cool, I can't help but think of crocodiles when I hear this. Death roll!

There's little point in picking apart each song. It's just ultra-gritty guitar riffs, groove, and guts throughout with some songs capturing my attention more than others for one reason or another. I'd say the first three or four tracks and the last two are my preferred songs, but the whole album is consistent, though "Hollowman" brings in a bit of melody.

After several listens, some of the excitement of hearing the entire album has worn off, but I am still very curious about the next album, "DCLXVI: To Ride Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth". For now, "Clandestine" is on its way to my place, so I'll get to see the earlier side of the band.

Death n' roll or whatever, it was really good to hear an album that combined components of the death metal sound with more familiar, traditional stuff like Black Sabbath and Motorhead.

GOREFEST Soul Survivor

Album · 1996 · Death 'n' Roll
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With Soul Survivor, Gorefest jump onto the death 'n' roll microgenre bandwagon that Entombed and others had been driving for a couple of years prior, and to their credit they pull off the style admirably. To be fair, they had been preparing this sonic shift some time in advance, with groundwork laid on the preceding Erase, but here they lock on to the genre and really nail it, churning out a set of songs which manage to balance being genuinely anthemic whilst still having a thick layer of death metal grit to them. Never mind that you can't listen to "Forty Shades" without thinking of 50 Shades of Grey - this is still a death 'n' roll mosh party in a sleek 44 minute package.

CONVULSE Cycle of Revenge

Album · 2016 · Death 'n' Roll
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"Cycle of Revenge" is the 4th full-length studio album by Finnish death metal act Convulse. The album was released through Svart Records in March 2016. It´s the successor to "Evil Prevails" from 2013 and the second album since Convulse reformed in 2012. Convulse was one of the seminal death metal acts out of Finland in the late 80s/early 90s, but they split-up in 1994, only to reform 18 years down the line.

"Evil Prevails (2013)" pretty much continued the old school death metal style from the band´s 90s releases, but added an occasional rock´n´roll element (especially the guitar solos pointed in that direction), but "Cycle of Revenge" is a very different kind of beast. In fact the only thing the two albums have in common are the emotionless and unintelligible growling vocals. The vocals are about the only death metal trait left in the music, and instead of old school Scandinavian style death metal, we´re treated to a psychadelic tinged (and at times nicely atmospheric) heavy rock/metal style with growling vocals. At various points I´m reminded of artists like Tiamat, mid-period Gorefest, contemporary Tribulation, and Convulse fellow countrymen in Sentenced. So at this point I guess it´s fair to call the music death´n´roll (there´s a hard rocking stoner riff or two in there too).

The instrumental part of the music is very well executed and the material is generally well written and relatively varied, which means the 8 track, 33:57 minutes long album is entertaining throughout. "Cycle of Revenge" is also an incredibly well produced album, featuring a powerful and organic sounding production, which suits the music perfectly. Unfortunately the growling vocals sound completely out of place, and when the band experiment with spoken word passages or semi-raw clean vocals, like they do on "Ever Flowing Stream", you can hear great potential. So without knowing if Convulse are going to drop the growling vocals on the next release, I´ll go out on a limb here and call this a transition release between their old school death metal days and their new psychadelic tinged heavy rock/metal style, because I do expect them to drop the growls on future releases. They are so obviously out of place here, that not dropping them would be a crime.

So "Cycle of Revenge" is a bit hard to rate fairly, because I´m rather biased about it. On one hand I think the instrumental part of the music is of a high quality and it´s both powerful, adventurous, and intriguing, but on the other hand the growling vocals do drag my rating down a bit, so I think it speaks volumes about the rest of the music, when a 3.5 star (70%) rating is still warranted.

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