Originally written by Ramar Pittance
Now here’s an interesting concept for you. You take a group of classic death metal misfits, place them on stage in front a crowd of Swedish socialites at the Stockholm Royal Opera House and have them kick out some freewheeling death n’ roll while the Royal Ballet Company performs an interpretive dance. How fucking Entombed can you get?
Loved by many for their contributions to the formation of the Stockholm sound, reviled by even more for their unabashed experimentation with punk and rock music and embraced by anybody with a good sense of humor and a strong appreciation for fun, Entombed is a band that leaves most feeling slightly conflicted. Much like the bulk of this band’s later output, Unreal Estate is a live album that will delight anyone willing to meet the band and their idiosyncrasies half way.
Devoid of almost any crowd noise, the resounding silence between songs and the amount of clarity and space allowed each instrument creates an almost eerie atmosphere. Entombed, seemingly aware of this ambiance, constructs a perfect set list filled with appropriately placed swells and crescendos culminating quite appropriately with the outro to the title track of 1990’s Left Hand Path. The bulk of the material is drawn from Uprising and Morning Star and arranged in such a way as to break up this slightly abbreviated performance into recognizable movements. Bottom heavy dirges “Chief Rebel Angel” and “Say it in Slugs” are bookended by an introductory piano performance and the truly bizarre “It Is Later Than You Think.” What follows are probably the three most enjoyable tracks on the album. “Returning to Madness,” “Mental Twin,” and a cover of Roky Eriksson’s “The Night of the Vampire” are rendered perfectly by the spacious recording, allowing each held power chord and whiskey soaked bellow by L.G. Petrov to resonate for full effect. The Royal Opera House was a marvelous venue for these songs.
With such a fluidly composed set list, it seems almost selfish to complain about the lack of more classic material. But the fact remain that those in the market for a classic Entombed album would be much obliged to hear tracks like “Stranger Aeons” or “Hollow Man.” Unfortunately, those yearning for classic Entombed are out of luck, because aside from the final track there’s not a single cut from the band’s first three albums. However, considering the mood the band is able to create on Unreal Estate, it’s hard for me to justify any complaints about the setlist.
Remarkably, Entombed remains energetic and defiant in the face of metal traditionalists. While the band has become structurally more commercial, the darkness of the songs is still just as pervasive. Unreal Estate captures the dynamics wonderfully. I recommend this to anyone looking for an idea of what today’s Entombed is all about.