Since their inception at the onset of Scandinavian death metal’s first wave, Entombed have overseen a legacy that’s influenced countless other bands, inside and outside of death metal. While Left Hand Path and Clandestine have vocal worshipers in modern metal acts like The Black Dahlia Murder and Aborted, bands from the crust, grind and punk genres, like Trap Them, Doomriders, and Baptists, have taken just as many cues from the outfit’s sound. And while Entombed’s role has sometimes been limited to looming in the shadows and looking on while other bands find greater mainstream success, there’s no denying they’ve still been there, and that when it comes to death metal, either keeping it strictly purist or taking new influences as far as they can go (like, death-meets-grunge?), there are few acts who’ve taken this many chances and stuck around without eating themselves.
The last couple years have seen the band’s future marred by the emergence of two Entombeds, one group led by Alex Hellid as a nostalgia act playing the band’s first two albums at festivals, and the second group labeled Entombed AD, featuring several long-term survivors of the band’s most recent incarnations, including longtime vocalist LG Petrov. This week, Criminally Slept-On makes no distinctions between Entombeds; I’m here to look at all the band’s various directions over what’s proven to be a storied and influential career. Entombed have definitely pushed their sound in directions that have alienated fans, but if you’re open to it, there’s great stuff worth hearing here.
1) “Kill To Live”
With as much time as Entombed fans waited for Back To The Front, I’ve gotta admit, the album was pretty lackluster. But that’s not to say there aren’t a few inspired cuts on it, and for me, “Kill To Live” tops that list. From the intro’s eerie keys through the mid-paced stomp that ends the track, if you’re into old school Entombed, this is probably the closest to what you were expecting to hear when you popped Back To The Front into your CD player (lol CDs). Unfortunately, recent troubles saw the band unable to make a U.S. tour they’d lined up, so if you’re stateside, the whole record may be criminally slept-on, as promo here has been minimal. If you’re a fan of Entombed, and you’re cool with a nice mix of their older ferocity tempered with their sludgier groove, this one’s worth checking out. Due to legal complications, this record was officially released by Entombed AD. Try not to get them mixed up with Entombed when you’re combing through the E section of your local record store.
2) “Serpent Saints”
The title track from 2007’s last official Entombed full-length is the best song that wasn’t on Clandestine. It’s clear from the beginning of Serpent Saints that the band set out to reclaim a bit of the old school death metal glory of their heyday, and while some of the album’s tracks came out as slipshod half-dones, there were a couple that truly succeeded in crafting the ultimate throwback. Fans of Clandestine and Left-Hand Path would do well to check out Serpent Saints if they haven’t already. This opener’s a great place to start (because it’s good, but also because it’s literally the place where the record starts). LG sounds monstrous on this one.
Before attempting their return to form with Serpent Saints, Entombed released an appetizer to test the waters. The EP, When In Sodom, contained a few tracks that mostly toyed with the direction the next full-length would take, while still having one foot firmly planted in the groove of past releases Inferno and Morning Star. When a track on this release truly works, it’s when the band commits and takes their sound all the way back to its roots. “Carnage” is the best example of that. Hectic but simple percussion, thick bass, and buzzsaw guitars. Check out the spot right before the two-minute mark when that shit starts to gallop. THAT’S how I like my Entombed.
4) “The Fix Is In”
While “The Fix Is In” is probably the most popular song from Inferno, I feel like I can get away with calling it slept-on because pretty much the whole record has been snubbed. While Morning Star wasn’t as balls-out ruthless as Serpent Saints, it did represent something of a throwback effort for Entombed, and when they followed it with Inferno, a catchy, rumbling groove fest in the vein of To Ride… and Uprising, I guess dudes just didn’t know what to think. I feel like the record’s really aged well though, and there’s no better example of its timelessness than “The Fix Is In.” If you like Entombed at their grooviest, there’s no way that main riff and the refrain (“heretic at the stake / let the motherfucker bake”) won’t get stuck in your head. Your homeboys probably told you to steer clear of Inferno. Give it a shot… at least this song.
5) “Come Clean”
If you’re not familiar with the blemish that was Same Difference, we’ll get to that in a minute. But it’s important to mention it now, because without that record, we probably never would’ve gotten Uprising, its vicious follow-up. Uprising is Entombed at their sludgiest, their punkiest, and their grooviest. I went with “Come Clean” because it’s as heavy as anything else on the record, but there’s a melodic, sing-song quality that pushes it into odd territory for Entombed. This song also represents, for me at least, the bridge between this era of Entombed and current bands like Doomriders, Black Tusk, and Trap Them. Uprising is my favorite Entombed album, and if someone told you Left Hand Path and Clandestine were this band’s only records worth jamming, this is the album I’d recommend to prove otherwise.