Album Review: Entombed A.D. - "Back To The Front"

I know what you're thinking; What's going on with that Swedish "death 'n' roll" band, Entombed? Well, it looks like after releasing 9 albums since 1990 Entombed may or may not be calling it a day. It seems the boys are having some personal issues and the Entombed name is off limits. Fortunately for us we have "Back To The Front", an album from a Swedish "death 'n' roll" band called Entombed A.D. to listen to.

As you may have guessed Entombed A.D. is the new name of the band previously known simply as Entombed. The line up seems to consist of vocalist Lars-Goran (LG) Petrov, dummer Olle Dahlstedt, Nico Elgstrand on guitar and Victor Brandt on bass.

The "death 'n' roll" label has been used to describe the music that Entombed A.D. makes but I see no need to lock them into such a small room. Sure, Entombed A.D. hails from Sweden and is not your traditional Swedish death metal group but simply adding a "...'n' roll" to it doesn't begin to describe their sound. To place them in a genre title like that is akin to cramming a size 12 foot into a size 11 shoe. It kind of fits but it needs a bit more.

On "Back To The Front", Entombed A.D. brings with them heavy guitars (what else do you expect from Sweden?), death metal style vocals but not so "growly" as to be a distraction, and some wicked bass playing from Victor Brandt. You know, bass players never get the credit they deserve. All too often their work is buried in the mix and they're forced to stand in the background during live shows. Mr. Brandt should take his place right out front, so powerful are his chops on this record. But I digress.

LG Petrov has a voice and vocal style that fits the music of Entombed A.D. perfectly. It's aggressive without being unintelligible. It lends a death metal edge to a sound that takes as much from the NWOBHM and hard rock bands as it does from the world of death metal.

The first half of this record is good but left me wanting a bit more. There are moments of greatness but it didn't blow my socks off. As it turns out, what I was waiting for kicked in around track 6 with a little ditty titled "Waiting For Death". Yikes, it's like somebody flipped a switch. Instead of just heavy they added a little, dare I say, funk to the mix. And it got better from there with "Eternal Woe" and "Digitus Medius".

What I began to hear was a band with a myriad of influences coming together and creating a terrific amalgam of music.This is why, for the most part, these ridiculous genres (such as death 'n' roll) aren't appropriate most of the time. Entombed A.D.'s flow from style to style is interesting and fun. For example, "Vulture And The Traitor" goes from a hard rock style riff into something hardcore/punk but then devolves into a more classic heavy metal style all the while being held together by the vocals of Petrov.

"The Underminer" combines so many stylistic elements that to attempt to list them would be an exercise in futility. Suffice it to say, the socks were sufficiently knocked off.

Taken on the whole, "Back To The Front" is just what the doctor ordered. It's not pure death metal but it's not experimental or what some folks call progressive either. It is definitely metal but it's also what I feel is a representation of the inevitable evolution of metal. Soon, I think, the compartmentalization of bands will wane and what we will be left with is simply, as it was in the beginning, a genre known as "heavy metal". As bands move forward and utilize more varied influences in their music we will have more of what Entombed A.D. has touched upon here; Music that is hard, heavy, interesting, in your face and, overall, an enjoyable listen.

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