Entombed A.D.

Back To The Front

Written by: AP on 01/11/2014 19:18:41

Originally intended for release late last year, the street date of Entombed's tenth studio album "Back to the Front" famously became interrupted by a strife between vocalist Lars Göran Petrov and guitarist at the time, Alex Hellid. Though the reasons behind the dispute remain unclear, the consequence was that Hellid left the band, while the remaining musicians opted to move forward as Entombed added the suffix 'A.D.'. The album has been a long time coming thus, and although Petrov now stands as the sole original member, there was always the expectation - especially given the album's title - that on it, Entombed A.D. would revisit the golden era formed by their first four albums from 1990 to 1997.

Certainly the dirty, muscular sound by which Entombed set themselves apart from their American contemporaries in that period has not been subdued, with "Bedlam Attack" and "Pandemic Rage" both fixing their gaze on the death'n'roll-ism of 1993's "Wolverine Blues". Nico Elgstrand's guitar tone remains as crushing as ever, as though each chord were dredged from the pit of a pungent Louisiana swamp, yet at the same time, the introduction of axeman Johan Jansson to the fray appears to have lent the music an unfamiliar dimension of eerie, melodic grandeur. Indeed, the songs are perennially draped in an unsettling atmosphere, upheld in unison by an assortment of samples such as the creepy music box melody at the beginning of opening track "Kill to Live", or the foreboding string arrangement on the crest of which the already mentioned "Pandemic Rage" marches in; and a palette of staccato riffs and epic leads that send subtle nods toward At the Gates in the likes of standout tracks "Waiting for Death" and "Eternal Woe".

Diversity and balance are thus held in high regard by Entombed A.D., with the constant variations in tempo and even style ensuring a thrilling listening experience front to the back (the pun was too tempting). True, keeping the proceedings raw and brutal continues to blip as the unifying idea no matter which song the listener tunes into. But without the Goatwhore-esque thrash salvo of "The Underminer", the dark vastitude of the blackened "Digitus Medius", or the diabolical snarls that slice in between Petrov's growls in the grand conclusion, "Soldier of No Fortune"; the album would risk lapsing into lulls. One must of course never lessen the crucial importance of Petrov's brawny roar when it comes to shaping the unique, pioneering sound of Entombed (and henceforth Entombed A.D.). Soon at 43 years of age, one could be forgiven for expecting the power and ferocity of his growl to have suffered by now, yet listening to a song like "Pandemic Rage" such wear-and-tear is nowhere to be heard. The man sounds like the Devil himself, bristling with ill-willing testosterone and lending the songs the necessary grit even when instrumentally, they fail to raise an eyebrow as is the case with "Second to None" and "Bait and Bleed".

With "Back to the Front", Entombed A.D. emerge victorious from the period of anonymity into which they were cast following the release of the fantastic "DCLXVI: To Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth" in 1997. This is not trivial: 80 percent of the current incarnation of Entombed had nothing to do with any of the band's records prior to 2007's "Serpent Saints - The Ten Amendments" and yet, across the past 16 years, the music never sounded more faithful to the trademark style of the band's yonder years than it does here. Riddled with infectious groove, laced with unforgettable melodies, and stricken with animosity, "Back to the Front" is the band's best work since the aforementioned "DCLXVI..." and a vital piece of the puzzle for this year's metal must-haves.

8

Download: Kill to Live, Bedlam Attack, Pandemic Rage, Waiting for Death, Eternal Woe
For the fans of: Dismember, Entombed, Grave
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Release date 05.08.2014
Century Media

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