Entombed. The band name itself should send shivers down your spine. They are back, granted not in their entirety but to hear that Entombed are active again – and playing an album that every old school death metal fan will have in their top ten list – is jaw dropping for me. Wild horses would not keep me away from seeing this band live again, and to keep me salivating in the meantime is this live album Clandestine.
To all those in the know, Left Hand Path turned death metal on its head in 1990 with that buzzsaw guitar sound and I must admit, when their second album Clandestine came out, I was looking forward to a Left Hand Path mark two. What I heard was a band that even though some members were not even twenty years of age was mind-blowing, and was instantly labelled a genre classic. The ambition to write songs that are more atmospheric, varied and accessible than its predecessor was brave but, as stated before, was up there with the very best that death metal had to offer at the time.
Live albums are something of a gamble for me as the sound may not be right, or the band cannot re-enact the perfection that was displayed on the album. Opening with “Living Dead” my worry was soon to be dispersed as the sound was perfect and crystal clear, much akin to how the album actually sounded back in 1991.
I must admit though, I did have two major concerns as to how this would sound because I hold this album in such high regard. We all know who did the vocals for the album back in the day and I growl to the album word for word, so it was imperative for me that the vocals were right for this recording. Having the privilege yet also the unenviable task (and knowing that he would be heavily scrutinised), Robert Andersson of progressive death metallers Morbus Chron did a sterling job in re-enacting the vocals and my initially worry was soon diminished. My other worry was the complex guitar solos that Entombed were renowned for and when the intricate solos in the opening song were played, the guitar work of Uffe and Alex is pretty much note perfect.
Controversially enough, most people’s favourite and second track “Sinners Bleed” was actually my least favourite off the album but in the live environment I cannot deny its atmosphere and intensity. Each musician plays a part where each have their own spotlight and every band member can hold their head high. The drumming comes courtesy of the criminally underrated Nicke Andersson — the way he hits the snare half way through the song and the use of all his kit is mind boggling. The eerie opening sequence to “Evilyn” with its simplistic riff but the vocals again of Robert shine through here as it did back in the day. “Evilyn” was always one of the highlights for me and I will admit it got this deathster’s head moshing the most so far. It was the guitar solo at 3.55 and the ensuing drum section that was pivotal that they had to get right for me and they nailed it.
Personal highlight “Chaos Breed” just brings me back to the glory days. Growling every word, playing the drums and playing air guitar (I am a multi-instrumentalist you know) I have never enjoyed a live album so much. Such rapturous applause has never been so deserving after a song than this one. Another personal highlight for me is closing track of the Clandestine album “Through the Colonnades” where we hear the intricate and atmospheric guitar riffs. Bassist Edvin Aftonfalk, again borrowed for this recording from Morbus Chron, does a stellar job on this particular track. Everything you need in a death metal number is instilled right here.
There can only be one song that can end this live album and that is of course “Left Hand Path”. I can listen to this track a hundred times a day and it still sends shivers crawling up my neck. The guitar solos from Uffe and Alex are perfect and once again, Entombed had three guitarists who all play their parts in this intricate track. The song is played in its entirety the way it should be and I just want to jump back in time. For getting this note perfect in the live environment especially after so many years, each musician should give themselves a pat on the back. Glorious, absolutely glorious.
Each song on Clandestine Live contains supreme musicianship from musicians that understand their instrument and play it to their extreme, and have fun with it at the same time. I thank Robert and Edvin for playing their part in making this an essential purchase but most of all, I thank Nicke, Alex and Uffe for getting back and doing this for the fans. The fans yearn for you to do more music and I yearn for you to bring this on tour with you. Thank you! I give this 9 out of 10 and the only reason you lost a point was because I was not there to see it in the flesh. One day!
Clandestine Live is out now