Entombed A.D
Back to the Front

So in summation: band forms, band does a couple of demos under Nihilist moniker, band changes name to Entombed, then releases two certifiably classic albums (Left Hand Path, Clandestine). Then release a third divisive album, Wolverine Blues (which has actually grown on me in my older, wiser years). Then things get a bit odd with a  real valley and peak slew of decent albums (Inferno, Uprising), terrible albums (Same Difference, To Ride Shoot, and Speak the Truth)  , a sort of return to form mixed in there (Morning Star), and then a supposed final album in 2007, Serpent Saints. Amid all of this, there a large amount of line up shuffling, style shifts, production shifts and general drama. Until finally founding guitarist Alex Hellid and the others original members (Ulf Cederlund, Nicke Andersson)  have enough of all the shenanigans over who and what Entombed is and has become and say “Screw you guys, I’m going home” and the original Entombed moniker is laid to rest, not to be used again unless the original members are fully present .

However, original vocalist LG Petrov and some of the latter era Entombed players continue on and release a an already planned  and recorded Entombed album under a new name, the creative Entombed A.D. What a mess, and what a disappointing twilight for a band that has arguably released two of the best death metal albums. Ever.

So I come into Back to the Front full of piss ‘n’ vinegar ready to destroy this thing, even after liking  Serpent Saints  (I have to best honest, I still don’t care for Inferno or Uprising) , as quite simply I’m one of those die hards that still worship the first two albums and pretty well everything since has sullied the band’s legacy. But you know what? Back to the Front isn’t not nearly as bad I was expecting, and in truth, is actually a pretty solid album that while no where near worthy of the original Entombed name, certainly has innate ties and an instantly recognizable sound. It really is a pretty solid album if you can simply ignore baggage it bears.

Obviously, the band will never capture the magic of the first two albums, but what we have here is a solid Wolverine Blues/Morning Star mash up in both guitar tone and song writing.  It’s thick and groovy with  the band’s trademark death ‘n’ roll lean but it’s darker and pissed off. The guitars have the super thick reverb and deep mid range punch that’s is the band’s hall mark and LG Petrov is in top form being gravelly but enunciated. But the songs themselves are better than anything the band has penned in years-no matter who the band actually is. And there are actually some very good songs on Back to the Front that make you sad that the band could not have settled their legal and personal differences and got their shit together as this album could have really been a spring board for a full on return.

After a decent opener in “Kill to Live” with its dramatic atmospheric opening, the album does a good job of scattering the better tracks all over the album, making you take in the whole album. Case and point second track “Bedlam Attack”  reeks of Wolverine Blues, pulling you in hoping for a return to form,  album along with “Pandemic Rage” (with a very cool orchestral intro) one of the album’s better tracks.  But then,  other than “Eternal Woe” you have to wait until blistering thrash of “The Underminer”, the penultimate track (unless you have a limited edition with the bonus track “Gospel of the Horns”), to really get excited again.

Nothing in between is terrible, it all rumbles with solid energy and surprising memorability and aggression and even a few fine moments here and there such as the start of the enjoyable “Bait and Bleed” and the thunderous grooves in “Degitus Meditus” .  “Soldier of Fortune”, ends the standard edition pretty well with its dramatic start,  but if you have the limited edition, the lazy  “Gospel of the Horns” ends the album in a pretty lackluster way.

That Back to the Front is this solid is one of the biggest surprises of the year for. Not that I’m about to forgive the band and all of it’s members for a roller coaster career, but I get the sense LG Petrov at least has his heart in it and is trying to make some amends for prior transgression with or without the blessing of his former companions. It’s not back to the front by any means, but it’s certainly back.

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
September 1st, 2014

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