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I got my first taste of Entombed with this EP back when it came out in 1993. Having never been previously exposed to Entombed, I had little idea what to expect. And, to be honest, the first song totally underwhelmed. The title track is a decent mid-paced heavy metal number, somewhat catchy but nothing to startle a teen looking for something more extreme. It has grown on my over time, however, filling a void of righteous blues riffage so often missing from more death metal oriented outfits.
The next track fulfilled my wish for some vicious though. "Serpent Speech" bursts forth in a torrent of coma-inducing, crust-influenced metal. All nominal suggestions towards more mainstream songwriting are ignored as Lars and co. roar forth like genocidal madmen bent on ultimate destruction. "Serpent Speech" blew me away. It was fast, heavy, noisy. It was perfect. So was "Bonehouse," a sickening grinder, one of the most pummeling songs I'd ever heard up to that point. The breakdown alone had me flinging things across my room. "Put Off The Scent" kicks ass too, it's choppy, almost off-time to start before laying itself into a sickening groove. It has an infectious energy, bristling with life, devoid of soulless technicality. These are still three of Entombed's absolute best songs. If anything, I think the 'Wolverine Blues' era would be looked more kindly upon had these three tracks made the album, they are the perfect bridge between the earlier death metal and later death'n'roll styles. Lars' voice is like that of beast struggling against the leash, so raw and powerful, its almost startling. The band has the heaviest sound of their career here as well. A perfectly raw, yet heavy recording.
Unfortunately, the instrumental versions of "Wolverine Blues" and "Hellraiser" both underwhelm. "WB" is much better, and somehow heavier, with Lars singing over it and the samples totally detract from the music. As for "Hellraiser," it is a cool idea but also a bit of a novelty. I almost always skip it.
So, the EP splits right down the middle with three absolute kick-ass classics, one grower, and two novelty songs that add nothing. If "Serpent Speech," "Bonehouse," and "Put Off The Scent" weren't so utterly great, I'd be inclined to give this a lower score but I'll play those songs for the rest of my life. Anyone who doubts Entombed's post-death metal era needs to hear these three songs. They should lay to rest any lingering doubts.
In 1993, suddenly it must have struck both Entombed and their new conglomerate overlords Earache and Columbia (the two had struck a deal which resulted in a bunch of releasing like Wolverine Blues and Heartwork reaching a far wider audience than they might have otherwise): let's do an EP properly! And Hollowman is just that, a short player release with enough unique material that it was well worth the asking price. And, not only was the content here largely original to the release, but it was also pretty fucking good. This was 1993, and thus Entombed had already begun to mutate their style towards a more rock & roll outlook, helping coin the phrase 'death & roll', but if you listen even back to their first two albums, you'll hear it in small amounts. Here, it moves out to the forefront, with Petrov's vocals howling like a mad wolf over a bunch of blues-based rhythms married to their carnal, grinding guitar tone.
"Hollowman" was not my personal favorite track off Wolverine Blues, but it's catchy and downtrodden and features that pretty excellent guitar sequence at 2:00 which paints the mental image of the Swedes sitting on a Mississippi porch staring off into the swamp in their backyard, which is shambling with undead, secrets and regrets. "Serpent Speech" is a fucking outrageous tune with a grinding volley of pumping, testosterone fueled guitars and a great little pause where a gun fires...I like everything from the lyrics to the hardcore fistfuck that erupts after the first lead, but if the band sounds like they've gone a little too far, they haven't: a killer if brief death metal rhythm erupts just after that. I'd have to say this is one of my favorite Entombed songs, easily the equal of just about anything from Wolverine Blues, and I wonder why it wasn't placed there...but then, it gives this release all that much more value.
The version of "Wolverine Blues" here is not the same as found on the album, but a karaoke version overlayed with samples of a zoologist (probably a band member, I'm guessing, due to the cussing) discussing the animal in question. It feels a little hamfisted, and a little too obvious, but the song itself is a great piece of groove oriented death rock, in particular I enjoy the thick bite of the opening riff. "Bonehouse" takes you right back to yesteryear, with the same grinding abandon you would have heard on Left Hand Path, only with the arguably better production the band was using in '93. It's fast, loaded with bullets and vitriol, and another of the primary reasons you should purchase this.
That leaves two more tracks. "Put Off the Scent" opens with a choppy rhythm, and i mean choppy like take your axe and hit the fucking tree repeatedly, before it breaks off into a flowing hard rock groove, with chords used as a counter-melody. There is a dash of Zeppelin and Sabbath here, but the band returns to their ghoulish death metal for the bridge between verses, and plenty of huge hooks. The finale is a metallic rendition of the Hellraiser theme, complete with samples, which are used often and in place of vocals. It's actually a really interesting idea (not the last this band would come up with) and works quite well, with enough kickass riffs to carry the atmosphere and conjure the darker side of the film. The shrill guitars after the 5:00 mark are pure money, and that closing riff sequence is pure horror...
Entombed truly outdid themselves here, forging an EP that has more value than the previous two combined, and I'd have to say it still ranks as one of their very best shortform works. It's not entirely void of redundancy, since "Hollowman" and "Wolverine Blues" appear on the full-length this was teasing, but at least the latter is in a mildly different form. Buy it, you won't regret it.
Who would’ve thought that Entombed would turn into a death n roll outfit, particularly after their first two albums Left Hand Path and Clandestine (which both kick ass)? Hard to believe, but that is the path they chose, and we have to either deal with it or move on. Their 1993 EP Hollowman already shows Entombed in their death n roll era, and they are not about to change, as we know.
Now, I’ve heard very little Entombed beyond this point, so I can only go by what I hear here. As per the genre name, it’s quite rocky, which, in turn, is very catchy. You can’t help but start tapping your foot to the beats and use of the wah pedal on the guitar. I wouldn’t recommend other bands use it as much as Entombed do here, but here, it just tends to work. The solo on “Serpent Speech” has a very high wah usage, yet I quite like it. If that was used in, say, Incantation, then listeners would be in a state of “wtf” for a while. It won’t work there. It works here.
The drumming is more thrashed up than what it was on their first two albums. Again, it fits the death n roll style they’ve adopted, and keeps the songs plodding along. There’s nothing really outstanding with them…there’s no intricate fills, or catchy breaks from the drums. They are seemingly there to keep the songs afloat and nothing more. I will admit that the songs would’ve been that much more interesting had the drums taken a more dominant role.
The vocals still sound similar to what they did before, except he’s now using more of a harsh yell than a growl. It’s not a huge difference, but I’ve noticed it. It again fits the death n roll genre, and I like it.
As a whole, the EP isn’t too bad. The twelve seconds of silence between every song pisses me off, and the lack of normal vocals in “Wolverine Blues” leaves a little to be desired, but overall, it’s a solid EP that is overlooked by their earlier works. If you can find this EP, I would recommend getting it. Sure, it’s death n roll, and we like Entombed as a death metal band, but Hollowman is still a good release and should probably garner more attention than it currently gets.