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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.