Back To The Front
04 August 2014
by Rob McAuslan
It’s always a shame when bands stop liking each other. As a result of the sheer amount of time you have to spend in each others’ company in the ‘hurry up and wait’ lifestyle of any reasonably-successful artist it’s probably unavoidable, but that doesn’t make it any easier on long-time fans. It seems like barely a week passes without some story emerging about how Band Guy A doesn’t like Band Guy B anymore, and its usually about money. Sadly but unsurprisingly, everyone’s favourite Swedish death metal pioneers have fallen foul of it too, it seems.
We all love Entombed, right? Of course we do. They always had something special about them, right back as far as Left Hand Path and onwards through them inventing the ‘death and roll’ sound on Wolverine Blues, and even after Nicke Andersson left to concentrate on The Hellacopters they still had something that kept you coming back. Like that riff in ‘Say It In Slugs’, or the surprising assault of ‘Chief Rebel Angel’, even the brutish swing of ‘Nobodaddy’ – Entombed always did good (even great) work. Their last album Serpent Saints – The Ten Amendments even showed signs of them stepping back to the Clandestine days, injecting more of the death metal back into their sound and reminding some older heads of why they fell in love with the band in the first place all over again.
Well, that ‘AD’ suffix is the first sign that something’s really badly wrong. Legal wrangling has left us with two versions of Entombed (allegedly – the version with Alex Hellid has yet to emerge), and on the evidence presented by Back To The Front, neither of them are going to be remotely as good as the real thing. Entombed A.D. is the one with most of the more recent live line-up – LG Petrov, Nico Elgstrand, Victor Brandt and Olle Dahlstedt – although you’d be hard-pressed to hear it. This barely sounds like Entombed at all, in fact, with Petrov taking a large part of the blame for this. He’s inexplicably gone from his usual punky bark to a more standard and not terribly-effective death metal style, removing swathes of the band’s personality in one stroke.
Some of the problem for Entombed A.D. – quite aside from their towering legacy – is the huge explosion of bands over the last few years that have swiped everything that once made them great and repackaged it in various ways. Black Breath, Trap Them, Burning Love and what feels like a thousand others have filled the last five years or so with artful twists on the classic Entombed formulae to the point where it hardly feels as if the Swedes have really been away. If they had been able to chuck some crusty snarl or phetted-up rock and roll at the calibre of songs they were producing circa DCLXVI: To Ride Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth or Clandestine, and delivered it live with a surfeit of energy then the world would’ve been their oyster again. But it’s that energy, at the heart of it all, that this version of Entombed lacks, and lacks it so, so badly. For the first time ever, an album with this band’s name on isn’t bursting with the life and attitude that compensates for their weaknesses.
Sounds Like: A protracted, world-weary sigh as you reach for something on Southern Lord instead
Standout Tracks: …not really.