posted on 6/2011 By:
With its debut album, Preemptive Strike, New Jersey duo Entrenched joins great acts such as Bolt Thrower, Jungle Rot and Hail of Bullets in the ranks of war-obsessed death metal bands. Whether Entrenched will ever achieve the reputation for quality and consistency of the former two bands remains to be seen, and without any legendary death metal figures in its lineup, it is doubtful that Entrenched can expect the instant popularity of Hail of Bullets. But make no mistake: Though it may be comprised of raw recruits, Entrenched operates like a hardened, veteran outfit ready to terminate with extreme prejudice.
While Entrenched may or may not have taken its moniker from the song of the same name on Bolt Thrower’s Those Once Loyal album, Entrenched is no tribute act. The band’s sound is not groundbreaking, by any means, and it leans more toward the old-school than the new, but the musty smell of nostalgia is entirely absent. Though the band uses the same raw materials as hundreds of acts that came before it, Entrenched does its best to forge its own sound.
When it comes to intro tracks, metal bands can concoct some mighty annoying bullshit, but Entrenched bucks the trend with an intro that features actual music, and it is not acoustic guitar. “Mobilize” is essentially a two-and-a-half minute instrumental death metal song that provides a nice overview of what to expect from Preemptive Strike: choppy riffs, varied tempos, quick bursts of soloing and a melodic theme or two. The only major weapons in Entrenched’s arsenal not utilized in “Mobilize” are quickly brought to bear with “Bred to Kill”: The first being speed, and the second being the band’s Carcass-esque high/low dual vocal attack. The band’s songwriting formula is not set in stone, but one can usually expect a little bit of everything in each track, making Preemptive Strike a constantly engaging listen that wears well over time.
Preemptive Strike is a rock-solid album all the way through, but certain tracks do stand taller than others. With “ICBM” Entrenched unleashes a blitzkrieg to rival the Germans, and by Germans, I do not mean the Luftwaffe. I mean Kreator. Entrenched excels at mid-paced death metal, but the band can also thrash with the best of them. The brooding melody that opens “Anesthetic Death” offers hope for a respite from the carnage, but Entrenched is just reloading; Two minutes in, the band commences shelling the shit out of the listener with the same merciless intensity found on the rest of the album. The melody is reprised at the end of the track, but at that point, it is but a requiem for decimated cervical vertebrae. The particularly viscous “Tooth and Nail” provides a fine showcase for drummer Charles Snyder who drives the track with relentless double bass and outright blasting.
If Preemptive Strike has a flaw, it lies in the vocals. While the tag-team approach provides some nice variety, the vocals are largely outshined by the music. Neither Snyder nor guitarist, Sean Fitzpatrick has the power or charisma of a Martin Van Drunen or Karl Willetts, and the fact that the vocals sit rather low in the mix further compounds the problem.
In all, Preemptive Strike is an outstanding debut. If you favor hard-hitting traditional death metal, Entrenched is waging a hard-fought campaign for your money. I am betting they will emerge victorious.
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