My personal love affair with Entombed (with whom we recently spoke – read our interview here) started in 1990 when, on a trip to England, I found an album called Left Hand Path by some Swedish death metal band on the then-rising Earache label. It consumed me completely with its ridiculously heavy sound, dark atmosphere, and outright viciousness.
Then, in 1991, a friend of mine brought me an imported vinyl version of their new album entitled Clandestine. He raved deeply about it and claimed that it beat Left Hand Path by a proverbial country mile, something that I just couldn’t imagine. One spin through and I could see where he was coming from. Granted, the vocals courtesy of Nicke weren’t of the same caliber (LG Petrov had been ousted as they were in album production, and this would become something of an infamous legend – give it a Google), but they added a new rawness, a punky kick in the bum that really worked. The production was thick and oppressive, the soundbytes evil and perfectly placed, the songs classic before you finished listening to them. I still wasn’t convinced that it beat the debut album in quality, but I couldn’t stop listening to the damn thing. I still haven’t, in fact.
Entombed would go through various sound, image, and line-up changes further down the line, ending dramatically in a full split between the band members over ownership of the band name (continue with your Google search, folks), but the big news in the underground over the past year was that the core original members (Alex, Nicke, and Uffe) were jamming together, something that I never thought I’d see again after Nicke’s successful stint in The Hellacopters. And then they dropped the news of this Clandestine 25th anniversary show, complete with a full performance of the album from beginning to end (a first for them, by the way) and a second set with the Malmö Symphonic Orchestra. I was a little excited by the news, to say the least.
Here’s a clip of Entombed performing “Sinner’s Bleed” from Clandestine – Live:
Utilizing the talents of Robert Andersson (vocals) and Edvin Aftonfalk (bass) of Morbus Chron to flesh out the crew, the show is definitely on point. The sound is exactly as you would remember it (thick, fast, and HEAVY), the original members can still rip like they did as young fellas with something to prove (Nicke hasn’t lost a solitary inch of his swinging power and huge beats), and Robert and Edvin do more than an adequate job. The music is note-for-note and still fresh as an Arctic morning walk in your underpants.
They kick it out song-for-song from the original track listing, starting with the punishing “Living Dead,” bookending with the haunting “Through The Collonades,” and, just to warm my black heart, they kick dirt onto the coffin by closing off with the title track from Left Hand Path, which was always a classic gig finale. The playing throughout is loose and a little sloppy, which I always loved about the band – death metal, hardcore style. The crowd sound is almost absent, reserved, and quiet, which effectively negates such an historic performance and recording. That said, the reserved reaction is most probably because of the setting with the orchestra, as seen with other similar recordings (Metallica’s S&M et al), so it’s a minor gripe. And I can’t wipe the stupid grin off my face simply knowing that I’m listening to Nicke, Alex, and Uffe kicking out the jams after all these years – it’s a sorely missed combination of talents.
It’s probably not the record I’ll throw on when I need my ‘Tomb fix (that honor is reserved mostly for their first three albums, plus some heavy injections of Morning Star and Uprising), but this is, especially for fans of classic Swedish death metal, a celebration of a monumental album from a magical musical period by a MONSTER band. It makes me feel all funny inside, and that’s exactly what I need from a 2019 release by Entombed.
Here’s Entombed performing on the “Gods of Grind” tour in London in 1992:
Clandestine Track Listing:
02. Living Dead
03. Sinners Bleed
05. Blessed Be
06. Stranger Aeons
07. Chaos Breed
09. Severe Burns
10. Through The Collonades
11. Left Hand Path
Run Time: 55 minutes
Release Date: May 17, 2019
Record Label: Threeman Recordings