In Defense of “Rock” Entombed

These guys rock. All the time.The better part of the underground metal community has it that Swedish death metal legends Entombed didn’t exist from about 1996 until 2001. Of course, they released three full-lengths, two EPs, and a live record/VHS in that time, but because the chief creators of the Sunlight Studios sound that also permeated the early work of Grave and Viking metal overlords Unleashed were straying from the raw death they’d propogated in their younger days as Nihilist and on the Entombed 1990 debut, Left Hand Path, they sucked. “Entombed? Ah they suck now,” and so forth.

I humbly disagree.

The band apparently hated this crap.Like many of my generation, I was first exposed to Entombed by seeing advertisements in Marvel comic books for the marketing debacle that was 1993’s Wolverine Blues. It wasn’t until much later that I came to find an affection for the various career stages in their catalog, but even then, the term “death ‘n roll” wasn’t around to casually explain away their approach. No one really knew what the fuck was going on.

To be clear, I hold Entombed‘s “rock” period to include the following:

1997’s Wreckage EP (Music for Nations)
1997’s To Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth (Music for Nations)
1998’s Same Difference (Music for Nations/Threeman Recordings)
1999’s Black Juju EP (Man’s Ruin)
2000’s Uprising (Music for Nations)

Indeed.Between Black Juju and Uprising, the Monkey Puss: Live in London CD and VHS were also released, but since they contained earlier material and were more of an Earache trying to fulfill their contract thing, it’s not on the list. Wolverine Blues, which was the LP before Wreckage, I still consider too death metal to include and 2001’s Morning Star, while I think it might be the best and most dynamic album they’ve ever done, is just on the other side of their transition back to a heavier style. On the above five releases, Entombed was specifically trying to move in a different direction, and you could say it culminated with Same Difference; like a genre parabola with that record at the top, the rest either leading to or from it.

The problem with that is — even I’ll admit — Same Difference isn’t that good. It has its moments in songs like the Here it is, for better or worse.title track, “Kick in the Head,” “What You Need” and “The Supreme Good,” but the back half of the CD is boring and rife with filler. Clearly they had taken the rock fascination as far as it would go and it was time to shift gears or submit to mediocrity. We all know how that turned out.

But even considering the shoddiness of the Same Difference turning point, I’ll match To Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth against any record you want to put to it. The band are aggressive, forceful and driven and the album just rocks. It’s not death metal, it’s not pure stoner rock in the Kyuss sense of the word, but like they first did with death metal, Entombed were creating something new and Sweet.entirely their own. The smoother-sounding Black Juju EP took it another step forward and was probably the most stoner of all their efforts. No coincidence that it was Man’s Ruin behind the release.

The real monster of the pack, however, is Uprising. I once saw Ann Wilson from Heart on stage with Carrie Underwood (it was a VH1 Classic salute to Heart and Alice in Chains had reunited for it; though Heart also played through Orange stacks and ruled), and I seriously thought that Wilson was going to open her mouth, let out a note and blow the American Idol country sweetheart off the stage. When Ann Wilson sings, the floor shakes, and I feel the exact same way about comparing Uprising and any era of Mastodon. There’s simply no contest. The Atlanta natives are outclassed in every way.YES.

Think about a track like opener “Seeing Red,” or “Scottish Hell,” or “Come Clean,” or “Say it in Slugs,” or the lethally groovy “Insanity’s Contagious.” It’s like the pissed off psychotic imbalance of Unsane met with Mot?rhead‘s “everything louder than everything else” motto topped off with the maddening throat of L-G Petrov. It’s the perfect storm of metallic scumbaggery. And it’s still enough of a rock album to be more that than death metal.

Point is this: I can’t be the only one, and I’m sick of having to read about how Left Hand Path is the be all end all of Swedish metal and Entombed‘s turn of the century work is somehow lacking quality or balls. I’ll listen to Black Juju over Stranger Aeons any and every day of the week. Call me crazy.

Just to drive the case home, here’s the video for “Seeing Red,” directed by Troma Entertainment‘s Lloyd Kaufman:

Tags: , ,

4 Responses to “In Defense of “Rock” Entombed”

  1. Woody says:

    I’m gonna have to check out Uprising. Someone just gave me the Black Juju EP a few months ago and was thrilled with their Alice Cooper and Twisted Sister covers. I don’t care for Left Hand Path or death metal in general.

  2. John says:

    Nice that Lemmy was at the end of that video, as “Seeing Red” is the greatest Motorhead song that Motorhead never wrote.

  3. […] legs?” Awesome. I’m not about to hold the blatant Entombed influence against them. I’ve said it before: the world needs more “Seeing […]

  4. NDM says:

    Could not agree with you more, i only listen to their Deth N” Roll period

Leave a Reply