Thursday, 31 July 2014

Entombed A.D. - Back To The Front (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 4/8/2014
Label: Century Media

‘Back To The Front’ CD/DD/LP track listing

01. Kill To Live (04:43)
02. Bedlam Attack (04:44)
03. Pandemic Rage (04:02)
04. Second To None (04:27)
05. Bait And Bleed (04:37)
06. Waiting For Death (02:57)
07. Eternal Woe (05:08)
08. Digitus Medius (06:00)
09. Vulture And The Traitor (04:45)
10. The Underminer (02:57)
11. Soldier Of No Fortune (06:48)
12. Gospel Of The Horns (04:34)*

* Bonus Track available on Limited Edition Mediabook

The Band:
L-G Petrov | Vocals
Nico Elgstrand | Guitars
Olle Dahlstedt | Drums
Victor Brandt | Bass


Entombed are, without a doubt, one of the most important bands in extreme metal. Anyone who has ever heard ‘Left Hand Path’ or ‘Wolverine Blues’ will tell you that is the truth. They created Death and Roll, defined a genre's guitar sound and rocked harder than anyone this side of Motorhead for most of their records. Conversely, they have also confounded fans with albums such as “Same Difference”, nearly made it very big in the mid 90's with a major label deal and- more recently- lost all their members barring iron throated front man LG Petrov. It is with some interest and consternation that I approach this album, then. With no Alex Hellid and no one else you would recognise from the glory days, this is a different band. Let's make it clear this is NOT Entombed- it is Entombed AD and I will treat it as such; kind of an extension to the original form. Comparisons are, however, inevitable.

‘Kill To Live’ opens things. Not death metal, certainly- this is more akin to Entombed mid to late 90's work and sets us up for what follows. ‘Bedlam Attack’ is again not exactly ferocious but is well structured and stomps out of the speakers with some purpose and some speedy bits here and there. If you were disappointed with Entombed's return to more death-y territory on Serpent Saints, this album may satisfy your craving To Ride, Shoot straight and so on.

‘Pandemic Rage’ opens with violins and guitar (not like Rhapsody or something- it's an intro!). The band then swaggers for the first time. That swinging groove is present until the thrash beats kick in. The best track so far, on first listen- compete with leads! ‘Second To None’ features a half stepping riff- a little like ‘Say it in Slugs’ (what a track that is!) and again swaggers and grooves like it is roughly 1995. Good stuff.

‘Bait and Bleed’ features a pretty cool title, a clean strummed intro and then a slower burning track than you might expect. The pace does pick up, of course, but it marks a more unusual side to the band. Petrov's voice remains intact and is as beastly as ever. Great front man and in possession of a unique voice- being as it is both brutal and clear at the same time.  ‘Waiting for Death’ pushes the record over the half way point with a track of more straightforward thrash/death. Again, though, it is not warp speed and not overly brutal. The chorus will stick in your head- good writing- and lifts the track above other bands who do this kind of thing.  Short and sharp this is a good song and perhaps one to listen to if you were unsure about whether to check the record out.

‘Eternal Woe’ has the guitar sound and tone to the riff that we know and love and allows the band to chug along like a diesel engine while ‘Digitus Medius’ throws in a rather death metal intro before the song lays down a rumbling groove reminiscent of Entombed's work on the “Inferno” album. The riffing is good here and makes the track something of a stand out- along with some memorable lyrics, too. ‘Vulture and The Traitor’ echoes the rhythms found on “Wolverine Blues” to an extent, but it doesn't have the bite of the songs contained on that record- that is not to say it's a bad thing; just different.

‘The Underminer’ puts the pedal to the metal with some blast beat action (!) and quick picking to boot. Again, it is short and sharp and one of the more aggressive tracks on offer here. Despite an acoustic guitar overdub (listen out) this is thunderous stuff! ‘Soldier of No Fortune’ actually features an acoustic guitar to open and a piano (not unprecedented on Entombed's albums) and is a slow burner of nearly seven minutes playing time. It features a triplet groove that works well for the main riff sections and the band again display good groove.

The verdict? This is a good album. It is not “Left Hand Path” or “Clandestine”, by any means, but neither is it “Same Difference.” I am enjoying it more than Serpent Saints (if that is of any contextual help, which I doubt). Entombed A.D. are essentially a more polite version of the Entombed of 15-20 years ago. If you enjoy Petrov's vocals and mid to late period Entombed, there is much to love here. If you want pure Swedish death metal, this is not the album for you. Get hold of Dismember's latter day releases instead. A light still burns here, but not as intensely as it once did.

Words by: Richard Maw

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