Monday, June 10, 2013

Entombed: From the Best to the Worst

1) Left Hand Path (1990)

This is the by far the crowning achievement of the band. Nothing comes even remotely close. I'll never forget hearing 'Drowned' on some college radio station out of New Haven, CT, back in 1990, and being absolutely fucking blown away, but even that mind altering teaser could not have prepared me for the title track, once I had obtained my copy of this album on cassette, so long ago. Since hearing it, this album has remained in my top ten greatest albums of all time since, and will be there long after I am entombed within my coffin.

2) Hollowman (1993)

"What?? You didn't list 'Clandestine' as being number two? Blasphemy!" Yeah, well, the truth is, in my world 'Clandestine' doesn't hold a black candle to this rockin' little morsel, and more so, I've never been a fan of whoever the fuck it was that sang on Entombed's mighty sophomore album. Seeing L.G. back in the ranks did my heart well and sure, at first I was a bit leery of Entombed's decision to drop their trusty ol' logo as well as some of the questionable song titles, but the truth is... I've always loved rock & roll just as much as I did death metal and once things got going here I was beyond relieved. In fact, I was fucking ecstatic over what was being delivered through the speakers! Sure, this was pretty much a far cry from the crushing and dismal death of the band's first two albums, but this was something that I could get behind and support all the way.

I'll admit, the first (and title) track had me really doubting things. To this day I'm not a big fan of it (although the middle section ranks among the band's best riffs), but once 'Serpent Speech' comes rollin' 'round the bend the band are on fucking fire and no ocean on Earth can put out the flames until the final note of the brilliant rendition of the Hellraiser theme rings out. Speaking of which, I always viewed that track as being a sequel of sorts to Left Hand Path's staggeringly awesome take on the Phantasm theme.

3) Wolverine Blues (1993)

'Hollowman' serves as the perfect warm up for the mountain of mammoth riffing that is 'Wolverine Blues'. Everything on that 'ep' is taken to the fucking extreme this time around, and I mean that in the best way possible!

Again, the weakest track here is 'Hollowman', which, after having been featured as the title track of the band's previous release, comes across as being completely redundant this time around. Aside from that, though, this album fucking slays and is by far my favorite full length by Entombed after 'Left Hand Path'. Sure, you can forget about the gloomy, doom-drenched atmosphere of the first two albums, but I'm really quite fine with that. Entombed are such great songwriters that everything done here is quite masterfully executed and besides, the sheer weight and distinction of the band's sound is the same as it ever was. If anything, I think the catchier, more "rock" oriented approach makes the band's attack all the more devastating.

4) To Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth (1997)

Don't worry about what the clueless naysayers tell ya. The signature "chainsaw" guitar sound is here in spades and overall this is the perfect continuation of where the band left off with 'Wolverine Blues'.

The songs are a little more varied this time around, in terms of tempo fluctuations and the like, but believe me, this album is every bit as infectious and potent as 'WB'. Obviously, 'TRSSASTT' (damn, that's a long ass acronym!) finds Entombed burrowing further down the rock & roll rabbit hole, but that's fine by me as I've always been a fan of Sabbath, Zep and Purple equally as much as Carcass, Napalm Death and Obituary.

5) Clandestine (1991)

Musically, this album is untouchable. A fucking masterpiece! Unfortunately, the vocals kind of fuck it up for me a bit. No, they're not the worst I've heard, and they've never been so bad as to deter me from enjoying the rest of the musicianship on the album, but boy oh boy this would've been SO much fucking better with L.G. commandeering the war machine!

6) Inferno (2003)

As I'm probably one of the very few people on Earth who wasn't bowled over by 'Morningstar', I was quite glad upon listening to 'Inferno' for the first time. Initially I was a bit skeptical as Entombed have yet to re-employ their famous "chainsaw" guitar sound of old and the guitars on this album are rather weak in comparison. After listening to the album with an open mind, though, I found it to be quite an enjoyable experience that I'd rank up there with 'Wolverine Blues' and 'To Ride...'. I can only imagine how much more devastating this would sound smothered in a Sunlight production.

7) Same Difference (1998)

I remember feeling very bummed when this came out and then a few years had passed and it was given to me as a gift, and after having listened to it in a more forgiving mood, thinking to myself "you know what? this isn't bad at all".

I totally understand why people would hate this album and avoid it at all costs. I'm not here to convince anyone otherwise, but I will say that after having given it an honest chance, I ended up really liking it. A lot.

Obviously this is not a death metal record, nor does it really fall into the "death -n- roll" category as , again, the "death" aspect is really quite alive... and kicking. If anything, this is more of a bluesy, ultra-moody alt-rock album which showcases Entombed's almost uncanny songwriting ability, proving that no matter what style of music they venture off towards, you can expect the results to kick ass. Again, anyone who holds a more "militant" stance in regards to death metal and such, will probably not like this and in all probability hate this. However, if you have an open mind and have warmed up to the band's less aggressive tendencies in the past, then I really don't see why you wouldn't enjoy this. Sure, it may be a hell of a lot less "intense" as the band's previous output, but 'Same Difference' unquestionably falls into the 'heavy rock' category with zero ballads and nary a techno beat to be heard.

8) Uprising (2000)

To many, this was a "return to form" for the band after the divisive misfire that was 'Same Difference'. Personally, I didn't mind that album so much and I sure as fuck didn't see this album as being the glorious return to form as heralded by much of the metal press at the time. I mean, ok, it's obviously got more aggressive tendencies than their last outing, but for a band that had supposedly returned to their roots, the question that begs to be asked is... where is the fabled "chainsaw" guitar sound of old? It didn't surprise me much that it was virtually non existent on 'Same Difference' as that album was a fairly drastic departure for the band, but this time around I found it puzzling as this was the band's supposed "return to form". The sound here is muddy yet weak. Had these songs undergone the Skogsberg treatment, they would have undoubtedly packed a handful of dynamite as the writing itself is typically on point.

9) Morningstar (2001)

Had this album not been so critically acclaimed I may have dug it a wee bit more, but quite honestly, given the ungodly amount of hype that has circulated this release, I was astonished to discover that there really wasn't anything fucking earth shattering going on here. It's a decent album and that's it.

10) Serpent Saints (2007)

Another one of those albums that have been heralded as a "return to form" and one that leaves me wondering "what the fuck are they talking about"???

Again, this is not a horrible album by any means (at this point, I think it's safe to say that Entombed is almost incapable of delivering a solid piece of shit), but it's far from being any sort of return to form, whether it be 'Left Hand Path' territory or even 'Wolverine Blues' ('Inferno' was about as close to that as the band has gotten), and despite the band's impressive track record in terms of songwriting capabilities, 'Serpent Saints' is probably their most yawn inducing. It really doesn't surprise that they haven't released an album since as it's quite evident here that they had run out of ideas.

11) When in Sodom (2006)

This is just basically a warm up 'ep' for 'Serpent Saints', showcasing the same style found on that album. Yawn.

12) Crawl (1991)

For the rundown on this release, click here.

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