Anyone that reads this site regularly know I have a huge love of old school Swedish death metal. Pretty well anything with that HM2/Sunlight sound sounds gets me more excited than Kim Kardashian in an NBA locker room. And 20 years after the genre’s originators like Entombed, Grave, Carnage and Dismember spewed forth from Stockholm, the genre is experiencing a comeback of massive proportions. For the last few years the HM2 sound and style has been in a resurgence with bands from the UK (Binah), Poland (Ulcer, Kingdom), the US (Abysme, Terminate, Horrendous), Germany (Revel in Flesh, Lifeless), Spain (Unconsecrated), The Netherlands (Funeral Whore, Massive Assault) and even the Czech Republic (Morbider, Brutally Deceased), just to name a few. But standing atop of the genre, are acts that hail from the genre’s homeland: Sweden. From the recent reissues of long long classics like Uncanny and Toxaemia, to new blood like Blood Mortized, Malfeitor, Usurpress, Morbus Chron, Bombs of Hades, Bastard Priest and Rogga Johannsen’s 4,456 bands, the Swedes are back. And none is more happy to be back than Entrails. Originally forming in 1990, but never recording anything, one could argue that their loooooong awaited debut, Tales from the Tomb was essentially a dusted off, unearthed blast from the past, re-ignited this whole resurgence. And now their third album, Raginf Death has just been released on Metal Blade Records- a far cry from obscurity 23 years ago. I overcame the language barrier and caught up with founder and guitarist Jimmy Lundquist to dig further into the pile of Entrails…
So how was the switch from Dark Descent — a fast upcoming pure death metal label with a ton of great bands — to a larger label like Metal Blade? Has it been a good move?
We weren’t in Dark Descent that much. He had the license to press The Tomb Awaits. Our main label was the German FDA Rekotz. So far, it’s really good to be at Metal Blade. It’s like a new dimension. A lot more people got to know about us and that’s thanks to the label. Underground labels don’t reach that long, sort of, but they’re doing a hell of a job.
Has to be neat being on a label that once had Vomitory and now they have another Swedish DM band in you guys.
Absolutely… It feels damn good.
It’s been a crazy few years for you guys. First the debut was lauded as one of the apex’s of Swedish death metal, then a great follow up and now, Raging Death is released on Metal Blade. Did you envision this back in 1991 when you started?
Hell no! This is like a dream. Couldn’t imagine that in the past. Just saying those big labels and names back then was huge and now we are in one of those. It’s unbelievable, but still fun as hell. I enjoy every minute.
What are you most proud in these last few years and those events?
I guess that it’s the massive and positive feedback my music has gotten. That’s also something I couldn’t quite imagine when I restarted the band again.
So what did prompt you to restart the band after 20 years?
The biggest reason was the huge nostalgia and I was not happy about the death metal that was being created. It had become terrible. The feeling, the passion and especially the riff making was gone.
Do you feel that your debut helped spark the current Swedish death metal revival that’s occurring in all corners of the world — from the US to Eastern Europe?
I don’t know. Maybe it has helped a bit. Or maybe there were many thinking the same thing at the same time. Tricky question that.
Obviously due to your font, song titles color schemes and even a few nods here and , folks are going to say Entombed is your primary influence. Fair assessment, or just too obvious to the casual observer?
A true follower of the old school music should know that we weren’t the only ones using that font in the day. And by that, also know about more bands from Sweden that also sounded exactly the same, and had the same sound, also playing the Swedish death metal. I think all the bands were influenced by each other and did their own style of it. So did we.
But there are some pretty obvious nods like the phantasm-y sounding part on “The Cemetery Horrors” from the new album and” Euthanasia” from the debut, right?
Well.. phantasm melody is excellent in every way and has its classical ’80s feeling and by that, we did our own horror feeling out of it. The Macgyver-theme would never fit us! Imagine Raging Death to be a horror movie and when the keyboard parts in “The Cemetery Horrors” begin, it’s the end of the movie and the credits are rolling.
So what is it about THAT sound that makes it so great and the why is there the sudden interest in that sound again 20 years later?
Well… The sound is quite special. Only works with downtuned guitars. It’s like it was meant to be a DM sound. For example, the well known middle of “Left Hand Path” has this middle section that just tears your soul apart. And as a guitarist, you’re looking for the special feeling when hitting the string so you can hear a flow of electricity and distortion through the speakers. Fingertip feeling to find that special sound. The sounds themselves have always been a mark of the Swedeath. And not many bands beside Dismember continued to use it until they split up. So I guess it was pretty much missing out there. Imagine all those classics with a modern or mega distorted sound… Nope. Wouldn’t work.
The bands that started that sound — namely the big four Entombed, Grave, Dismember and Unleashed — have all gone through some sort of issues. Notably Entombed’s style change, Grave’s hiatus, Dismember breaking up and Unleashed (despite Hell’s Unleashed) surprisingly being the most consistent. What is your opinion on how those bands and sounds have fared over the last 20 years since the glory days of 1991.
Hmm… It’s like you wrote that those bands went in another direction after a time. Such a change is normal if they want to explore new things and find new twists. But it is like a lottery, I would say. You might lose fans and you can also win some new ones. I could easily say that none of those bands made a better album than their first 2-3 ones. It’s like a change came on all of them and they felt forced to suddenly become perfect… sort of. I still prefer the era up until 95 from the Swedish old school death metal. Then it became another style in my ears. To me, it was only Dismember who gave the sound and the feeling the longest.
Lets say you are on a desert island. What one album from that era would you take with you and why?
I would go for something with Grave. Soulless or Into the Grave… and why is that? Those albums are done by passion and with such atmosphere and sound, that they’ll eat you up from the inside.
And are there less obvious, or more recent or current bands in the style that you enjoy?
Well, good old Cemetery, Nirvana 2002 and God Macabre among Nihilist and Carnage from the past. And new bands such as Tormented, Blood Mortized among a lot of other HM2 bands are also great at keeping the tradition alive
Speaking of HM2 bands, how exactly did you get your guitar sound? Was there a particular sound you were going for, or are you trying to forge Entrails’ own sound?
How to get the sound is pretty easy. The HM2 pedal was lined into a floorpod and then straight into the soundcard, and the computer. With some adjustments I had a basic sound to continue to sculpture in the mix. Entrails is looking for that early sound the whole time and by that, also finding our own sound combined with the old and fat Sunlight sound. And so far we have been having a great guitar sound.
You had mentioned to me casually before that some of the riffs on Raging Death were from 15 years ago. On your three albums, how many songs and riffs are from your first run as a band and how many are new?
You could say that I’ve used 100% of the old songs taken from the ’90s on our first album Tales from the Morgue. On Tomb Awaits, I used a bit less and it was around 50% of the old songs. The reason was that I wanted to create some new stuff as well to see if the new thinking in creation was good enough. On Raging Death we have like 15-20% of old stuff, and also here we wanted to make new tunes and not use all the gold at once so to speak.
You’ve got some guys in the band from grindcore band Birdflesh. How did them becoming part of Entrails come about? Are they full members of guest musicians for hire?
Yeah. First, Jocke (Svensson – bass/vocals) joined Entrails for the demos and have ‘em unleashed and he was the man for the brutal vox. Then others wanted different and the band had to expand and become more solid. Adde (Mintroulis – drums) joined the band after the first album, and the reason was that shows were approaching and we needed a good drummer, so he was happy about it. They’re now all full members.
Are you the primary song writer or so the other guys help out with the actual song writing?
Yeah. You could say that I am the main writer of the songs. When I have done a song into a recorded demo, the rest come with input and we sculpture the songs together. Jocke then makes some lyrics that fit in. It’s a very good way to create music for the style that Entrails has. I don’t believe in the way where too many are involved with creating a song. Too many ideas can blur the creation of a song.
As much as I love the last two albums, your debut still sticks with me. Especially “Voices and Euthanasia”. What are your favorite songs so far?
I get new favorites every day as long as I listen to it all. At work I listen to a lot of our own stuff, analyzing in what we could have done better and so on. That should help me make even better music in the future. And for now it’s “Carved to the Bone” that brings me in the mood. “Voices” that song is also very neat.
I have been dying to hear a cover song from you guys — seeing as many of your peers like to cover tracks from their influences. What songs would you cover?
We are doing a cover on this new album, though, it’s bonus material on the European version of the vinyl. It appears on the limited digipak too. The song we do is “Dark Endless” by Marduk. We didn’t want to do a cover of a band having a similar style and especially the buzzsaw sound. So we did a classic and also from a huge inspiration source from the past.
And finally when are you going to come to the States and tour? I’m sure Metal Blade wants that right?
I’m sure they want that, but we don’t have anything planned for the moment, as we have guys in the band that have other projects and things that can make them unavailable for such an event. But we are not saying no if a request or something shows up. If it all feels right and everyone is available there wouldn’t be any problems coming over to do some tour!