October 9, 2014 Entombed A.D. – Back To The Front (Album Review)
With the legendary Entombed moniker now legally in the hands of its four original members, famed death metal vocalist L-G Petrov soldiers on with Entombed A.D., assuring fans that though the band is technically on hold, they will still get to experience what is essentially a new album from that Swedish death metal stalwart. Along with Dismember, Entombed pioneered a sound back in the late ’80’s/early ’90’s which helped define a subsequent generation of underground death metal. Entombed A.D. comprises the aforementioned L-G Petrov behind the mic, along with the post millennial Entombed crew (Olle Dahlstedt – drums, Nico Elgstrand – guitar, Victor Brandt – bass guitar). Noticeably absent is founding guitarist Alex Hellid. Without him, Entombed A.D. has recently released their first album under the new name. Entitled Back To The Front, it erupts from the ancient stronghold of Stockholm, Sweden via Century Media Records. Are fans in for a letdown without Alex Hellid onboard, or will L-G and company find some continued success?
When considering the band members and their collective pedigree, the question was never going to be about authenticity. Rather, one would hope that some good songwriting chemistry would prevent Entombed A.D. from just being some kind of parody of the legacy imprinted long before the ‘A.D.’ tag appeared after the old name. If fans can stomach the loss of Hellid, adjust to the legal situation and listen with an open mind, they will see that L-G and company have not missed a beat. More Wolverine Blues (1993) than Clandestine (1991), Back To The Front nonetheless revs up the buzzsaw guitar sound of old, with lead-off track “Kill To Live” even featuring some synth sounds in the mix. L-G’s brutal, classic vocals are in place, with a sense of melody beneath the racket which should please most fans. It might irritate those hoping for a return to the days of Nihilist (Nihilist was Entombed’s previous incarnation, back in the demo days).
Third song “Pandemic Rage” is a true headbanger, of the sort which immediately distinguishes itself and stands out as an album highlight. This is immediately followed up by “Second To None,” creating a one-two punch of riff-laden strength that will doubtless have mosh pits churning across the globe. “Bait and Bleed” keeps the middle of the album meaty and interesting, playing with tempo changes and dynamics in a convincing and exciting manner. The fan looking for more old-school savagery will be pleased with the short, sharp, shock of “Waiting For Death” and “The Underminer,” both under three minutes in length and wonderfully to the point. “Digitus Medlus,” on the other hand, is a longer, slower, drawn out affair. While ballsy and certainly very Entombed-esque, this pace can sometimes expose the vocal monotony of L-G’s death metal growl. The song is saved around the 4:00 minute mark however, as the breakdown and hardcore-style verses following it blend with some cool soloing from Nico Elgstrand, taking it home in convincing fashion.’Vulture and The Traitor’ has an almost stoner/grunge appeal in its delivery, with bass licks as thick as half-dried cement lending it some lethal weight.
It is not long before Entombed A.D. brings the speed though, reminding the listener that its Swedish death metal after all, from one of the genre’s godfathers. The album closes with “Soldier of No Fortune,” an epic piano-laden introductory suite melding into an adventurous, synth-laden death metal crawl. Mid-paced, it tells its story with the familiar L-G Petrov snarl mixed in with some backing vocal interplay. A slower, yet strong finish to a solid effort. CrypticRock gives this album 4 out of 5 stars.