6/10 – Reviewed by Steve Earles
I really love Entombed, indeed I had a memorable night in Dublin drinking with Entombed and Cathedral a few years ago, and I would love to have given this album a ten out of ten review, but I owe it to you to be accurate and honest.
As you can see from the ‘Entombed A.D’ band name, all has not been well in the Entombed camp for quite some time. ‘Back To The Front’ was originally to have been released in 2013, which proved an unlucky year for Entombed. Founder member Alex Hellid departed the band before the original release date of ‘Back To The Front’. He then initiated a lawsuit to prevent the remaining band members from using the Entombed name, hence the cumbersome ‘Entombed A.D.’ band name that ‘Back To The Front’ has finally been released under. There is an element of soap opera about the entire affair. Hellid could easily put together a new band and go out as Entombed, so we could theoretically have two Entombed bands. It would have been better all round if the people involved had talked it out, it overshadows the music. As is always the case in life, when communication brakes down, everything falls apart.
The tragedy here is that Entombed have released some truly great music over the years, so this is a shame.
At the end of the day, the questions has to asked, is ‘Back To The Front’ any good?
Well, dealing with the negative side first. ‘Back To The Front’ is no ‘Wolverine Blues’ or ‘Morning Star’, that level of out there originality and buzz saw heaviness is largely absent. It doesn’t possess any of the raw manic energy of ‘Uprising’ or ‘Serpent Saints’, which I really loved. One of the problems is the production, it’s too clean, everything is too perfect, the sound of ‘Serpent Saints’ was much better, here that weight and rawness is absent. Hellid’s absence is badly missed, there’s no way around that fact. Sure, the guitars are doubled up in the studio, but the interplay between two guitarists badly missed. Hellid also had a strong ear for the Entombed sound, and that too is missed.
On the positive side, the songs are good, even if they miss the manic edge they previously had. The musicianship is top class, and L.G has one of the great metal voices- very much to the fore here. ‘Bedlam Attack’ and ‘Kill To Live’ had the potential to be live classics. And, to be fair, getting the album out at all was an achievement under the circumstances.
So, to conclude, a decent album, but we don’t want a decent album, we want an outstanding album, the potential is here, so here’s to the next album!