Here's a thought: Entombed's Left Hand Path, which turns 20 today according to Wikipedia, is two songs - "Left Hand Path" and "But Life Goes On" - and a bunch of other songs.

Can you name its 10 (or 12, depending on which version you have) tracks in order from memory?

Daniel Ekeroth probably could. His Swedish Death Metal book (reviewed here), posits Left Hand Path as the pinnacle of Swedish death metal. In his book, Entombed was the star, starting with its earlier incarnation as Nihilist, and other bands were merely orbiting planets.

Most of us couldn't, though. Master of Puppets this ain't.

That doesn't detract from Left Hand Path's greatness, however. It's just indicative of its singularity. The title track and "But Life Goes On" stand out due to their departures from that singularity. "Left Hand Path" - one of the greatest metal songs ever composed - borrows its outro from the theme of Phantasm. "But Life Goes On" revolves around LG Petrov roaring, "Life is your worst enemeaaaaaaughy!" It's a classic case of an idiosyncrasy making a good song great. (See also "Ace of Spades".)

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Otherwise, Left Hand Path is an unstoppable singularity: sound. It has two elements, guitar tone and riffing style. The tone is the famed "Sunlight sound", using the Boss HM-2 pedal with all knobs turned up. The riffing style is one of metal's most recognizable, full of sharp angles and evil trills. (It has a bit of Slayer in it.) Together these elements coalesce into "the Entombed sound". It oozes through the album like hot lava.

The Entombed sound is so powerful that it has spawned not one, but two revivals. The first is the so-called New Wave of Old School Death Metal, in which bands like Fatalist and Demonical carry on Entombed's torch. The second is more unlikely. Hardcore bands like Black Breath, Nails, Early Graves, and Trap Them have appropriated the Entombed sound. Whether they do anything new with it other than shorten the hair is up for debate. But they are keeping its energy alive after Entombed lost it long ago. Now Left Hand Path sounds like it came out last week. Two songs - and a bunch of other songs - can go a long way.

— Cosmo Lee

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