When they finally hang up their boots, there will be little doubt that Entombed will have left a complicated legacy. Their first two albums, 1990’s Left Hand Path and 1991’s Clandestine, are undisputed classics of Swedish death metal and pillars of the vaunted Stockholm scene. By slowing things down and enhancing the rock, 1993’s Wolverine Blues helped to usher in the death’n’roll sub-genre. All three albums are essentials that have stood the long test of time, and had the band continued on such a trajectory of creativity, they likely would have found themselves being remembered among the all-time greats.
Instead, they went deeper down the “roll” side of the formula while inviting in everything from bro thrash and groove to a fuckload of attitude and touches of d-beat (the dosage of each depending on the album). The problem wasn’t necessarily that a shift occurred, but that a drop in quality joined it; over the last 15-plus, Entombed has only been consistent in their inconsistency, and has developed a heavy case of shoot-self-in-foot syndrome. After releasing three classics in five years, they have now gone the entire span since without matching their youthful brilliance.
That said, there are a good amount of gems strewn throughout this era that qualify for much more than “Best of the Worst” (hence the dropping of the sub-title to this playlist). So here, good folks, is a nice selection of the best Entombed tracks released in the lean years since Wolverine Blues. If you avoided these albums in the past, maybe you’ll find inspiration to pick a couple of them up. Just be sure to grab used copies of any not named Morning Star.
Of all of the post-Wolverine albums, Inferno is easily the most fun. Sure, the production is among the worst of the band’s career, and it often reaches galactic levels of idiocy, but it remains pretty jam packed with thumping rockers. Opener “Retaliation” sets the stage perfectly with its plodding, nearly doom tempo, and a chorus that exudes burly confidence. It is also a great example of Entombed drawing out the headbangs by excelling in the medium tempos.
TO RIDE, SHOOT STRAIGHT AND SPEAK THE TRUTH
[To Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth, 1997]
Calling To Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth a puzzling album is a gargantuan understatement, but much of it wasn’t all too different from Wolverine Blues. Sure, it had that goofy horror movie album cover, and at times it went full bore into the groove, but tunes like the rippin’ title track revealed that it still had that Sunlight sound and just enough death to go with the huge amount of roll. Listeners who were turned off by the streetwise-by-way-of-Satan lyrics must have been truly tough customers indeed, because resisting the amount of bouncing swagger this one brought is damn near impossible.
I FOR AN EYE
[Morning Star, 2001]
Morning Star is often considered to be the best Entombed album since they dropped death metal. I would be hard pressed to disagree, but will add an uncomfortable qualifier. Several songs on this album share more than just a small bit with Slayer’s oft-derided (but still pretty good) Diabolus In Musica. Listen to the barrage of descending riffage in “I For An Eye” and try to argue. Better yet, imagine that it is Tom Araya yelling out the lyrics of the chorus. It isn’t hard. Why does this work better? Because Entombed at this stage was better suited for it, L-G Petrov’s voice was in better shape, and quite frankly they wrote a better set of tunes.
[Serpent Saints – The Ten Amendments, 2007]
The title track from Entombed’s most recent platter is just about as close to fully-fledged death metal as the band had gotten in ages. It also helped to fuel plenty of hype that the band had returned to their roots, even if only parts of the album supported such claims. As for the song itself, it’s a fucking beast, winning big on a Celtic Frost gallop, old school Sunlight production, and Petrov’s deepest vocals in long over a decade. Much of the rest of the album failed to live up to this opener, but the strong stuff certainly put smiles on the faces of some old school ‘bangers.
Adding to the idiocy and general lack of sense within most of Inferno’s lyrics was “Nobodaddy.” Luckily, it also adds mountains to the fun. Easily among the most unabashedly catchy tunes in the band’s career, it also boasts the kind of chorus that even an old school Left Hand Path diehard would have a hard time resisting in a live setting. Oh, and that trill in the tune’s main riff? Way more than makes up for the fact that L-G actually finds a reason to say “daddy-o” in this one.
SAY IT IN SLUGS[Uprising, 2000]
If 2000’s Uprising has one real fault (other than the production), it isn’t that any tracks are terrible, but that most are merely “pretty good.” Still, there remain some standouts, the most obvious being the mega-thudding “Say It In Slugs.” The track smartly leans hard on its infectious forward momentum and simple main riff pattern, finding a way to hook in the listener even while knowing that there really isn’t a ton going on, which fittingly describes most of the album that it calls home.
MASTERS OF DEATH[Serpent Saints – The Ten Amendments, 2007]
Beginning with a continuation of the retro death of the album’s title track, “Masters of Death” shifts to the ‘tude-ridden swagger of albums like Inferno during the bridge. The result is a song that not only pulls from every Entombed era, but seemingly from the entire history of roots-oriented extreme metal. The time capsule career cross section even hits on the lyrics, which are a name-drop-a-thon of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, leaving nary a geographic location left out. It’s a fun as fuck kinda tune purely because that’s what Entombed meant it to be.
ABOUT TO DIE[Morning Star, 2001]
On an album with a fair amount of aping, “About to Die” wins the costume contest by reaching back to the 80s. These two minutes of fury hidden in the final moments of Morning Star make up the best classic Slayer impression the band ever attempted. Minor key, cyclical riffs; blazing speed; aggressive, throaty, screaming; a signature dying-cat-solo; tons of muted cymbal crashes. The band opened the vaults to pay quick tribute to the entire legacy of a band that had to be among their greatest influences, and in doing so solidified the back end of the album.
IN THE FLESH[Uprising, 2000]
One of the only songs in which the band embraced full doom, the closer on Uprising was a Sabbath-fueled dirge as only Entombed could present it. Iommian trills, Petrov’s desperation-ridden vocals, a particularly hooky bridge, and a key solo all add up to a buried gem. If the odd organ seems strange at the beginning of the track, it makes perfect sense when it returns to start the lumbering lead-in to the song’s finale, and that of an album that has become lost in time.
CHIEF REBEL ANGEL[Morning Star, 2001]
And here it is, folks. “Chief Rebel Angel” is not only the best tune of these long years out of Entombed, it is easily one of the greatest of their career, showing exactly what these albums could have been with a tad more focus and inspiration. From L-G’s damning delivery in the verses to the song’s massive chorus, every element clicks to the fullest. Even the dime store Satanism works because of how much the track just fucking rocks. However, by starting Morning Star with its best track, a shadow was cast over even the most complete of the band’s post-Wolverine albums. So here it was chosen instead to be the closer. Huge, huge stuff.
What, all you Same Difference fans feel slighted? Sorry, the band’s bad Helmet/EHG mashup and L-G’s weak, piss poor Muir-ish delivery are just NOT my bag, man. Crapolla.