Sound — 8
Entombed originally formed in the late 1980's as Nihilist, then quickly changed up to Entombed. Initially their sound was stereotypically Swedish death metal, but this quickly evolved into including elements of more straight forward hard rock and sludge/doom metal. They had several lineup changes over the years, as well as an almost erratic sound as they with one album would push the envelope of mixing influences and with the next seem to be reaching back to their earlier Swedish death metal sound. After releasing their ninth release, "Serpent Saints - The Ten Amendments," the band began to work on the tenth full-length album, "Back to Front," but due to issues with the original founding members they had to stop their initial release date and work out some details. The name, Entombed, can no longer be used by the current lineup of the band which as Entombed A.D. includes: Lars-Göran Petrov (founding member) on vocals, Olle Dahlstedt on drums, Nico Elgstrand on guitars, and Victor Brandt on bass guitar. The album contains 11 tracks and clocks in at over 50 minutes.
The album opens up with "Kill to Live," which uses a melody on keys to begin to create the ambience that runs throughout the track - when the heavy guitar and drums come in I was already won over by this track. "Bedlam Attack" opens up with a good sludge metal riff and driving drums. "Pandemic Rage" opens up with a string arrangement which builds tension for the first portion of the song, then it is resolved with groove-heavy riffing that comes in with a vengeance. "Second to None" has an almost primitive guitar tone going on compared to most modern metal, but it definitely does a lot towards giving this track its own character. "Bait and Bleed" starts out with a riff that pretty much immediately made this my favorite track on the album, which is kind of like a slowed down "Flight of the Bumblebee" in a minor key (as a loose comparison). "Waiting for Death" is one of the more energetic tracks on the album, but it kind of goes more towards that sense of aimless aggression that some early death metal has that seems too unfocused for my tastes. "Eternal Woe" is all about the groove and riffing, sounding almost like something Pantera might have recorded in their heyday. "Digitus Medius" (digital media? digital medium?) is heavy on character with some interesting things going on musically on the track, even making the triplets/gallops sound original on the track. "Vulture and the Traitor" is another track that has its fair dose of groove and riffs, as well as lyrical fury. "The Underminer" has an interesting guitar solo on the track, which almost sounds like a soulful blues solo played at a much higher speed. The album closes out with "Soldier of No Fortune," which is clean in the intro with guitar and keyboards. This isn't the first and won't be the last time that an extreme metal album opens or closes with a mostly clean track that is aiming to sound "epic," but "Soldier of No Fortune" does something a little different with it, building it up to heaviness but then taking it somewhere else completely, ending more like an industrial metal track.
Lyrics — 7
Petrov deserves props for being one of the most prolific and skilled vocalist in the death metal genre, even if the music they create these days couldn't necessarily be labeled accurately as death metal. Petrov's vocals have the stereotypical death metal growl to it, but his lyrics are more discernable than a lot of the other bands in the genre, which is a true feat considering he has been doing this well over 20 years. While the vocal performance is impressive, the lyrics themselves seem to be kind of mediocre.
Overall Impression — 8
I listen to some death metal, but I wouldn't say it is one of my favorite genres of music - but what Entombed has previously done and Entombed A.D. continues to do with death metal is make it digestible for fans of metal music that can't quite do death metal. I know there are people who may want to label Entombed A.D. as sellouts and goofiness like that, but it isn't like they're creating radio friendly music even with the other influences they've worked in. They've just added groove, (occasionally) melody, and honestly better songwriting. I've noticed a trend in death and black metal a lot lately where new bands and albums by older bands are incorporating a little bit more in the way of experimentation, and I have to say it is a welcome addition to extreme metal. My favorite tracks on the album would have to be "Soldier of No Fortune" and "Digitus Medius." This isn't even counting "Bait and Bleed" which has an infectious riff going on through most of the track.