Released: 2007, Candlelight Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Over the past ten years, Entombed’s output has been a little hit-and-miss but that all comes full circle with the release of their ninth album, SERPENT SAINTS – THE TEN AMENDMENTS. The band’s patented death ‘n roll remains, of course, but with a renewed vigor and moments of death metal brilliance that have not been heard since CLANDESTINE way back in 1991. Since Entombed’s last full-length, 2003’s INFERNO, there has been a major change in lineup: founding guitarist Uffe Cederlund, bassist Jörgen Sandström and drummer Peter Stjärnvind have all left the fold. Now operating as a stream-lined quartet with Nico Elgstrand and Olle Dahlstedt stepping into the bass and drum positions, respectively, it seems that Entombed have found their groove again. Vocalist L.G. Petrov has not sounded this fierce in years and guitarist/founding member Alex Hellid still unleashes that same thick, meaty riffs that helped shape the first wave of Swedish death metal in the early nineties. The band’s experimental ways still emerge with mixed results but overall, SERPENT SAINTS – THE TEN AMENDMENTS is the best Entombed album to come along in years.
Storming through on a death metal shuffle, the title track sounds eerily similar to Motorhead’s “Iron Fist” right down to the main riff, verse structure and vocal cadences. Petrov’s deep growl is synonymous with the band and the genre and he hasn’t sounded this nasty and pissed off in a long time. On “Masters of Death,” the band employs a “heeeey, hooooo!” sing-along in the chorus that will put a smile on anyone’s face and is sure to be fun in the live setting. Dahlstedt ekes out his own space on “Thy Kingdom Koma” with an aggressive, pummeling beat and on “When In Sodom,” released last year as an EP, he and Elgstrand lock into a head-bobbing rhythm. That track’s creepy, Gothic-tinged choral vocals in the chorus add some really cool ambience that offset Petrov’s harsh delivery perfectly. The churning sonic maelstrom that opens “In The Blood” opens the door to a slow and brutally heavy track that fans of Entombed’s early material will be happy to hear the band revisit. Likewise, “The Dead, The Dying and The Undead” is a bludgeoning torrent of blastbeats with a riff that has a faint hint of Middle Eastern influence to it. When Entombed decide to go for the jugular as they do in places here, it is a welcome return to what made this band so powerful in the first place.
Unfortunately, mid-tempo fluff like “Amok” and the punk-ish tone of “Ministry” bring the energy level to a standstill. Naturally, not every song can be a home-run but these two duds sink like a lead balloon. Closing track “Love Song For Lucifer” is another head-scratcher. Slow and moody with the vocals inexplicably mixed way down so that it sounds like they were recorded through a wet sock, the song simply does not fit and instead of ending with a bang, the album disappears like a Celtic Frost experiment gone horribly wrong.
While not exactly a total return to form that old-school Entombed purists may be looking for, SERPENT SAINTS – THE TEN AMENDMENTS is the best album from the band’s post-WOLVERINE BLUES period. INFERNO had its moments but MORNING STAR is really SERPENT SAINTS – THE TEN AMENDMENTS’ next closest competition. This batch of songs is extremely heavy, very dark and considering the revamped lineup, little difference is made of the band’s sound. SERPENT SAINTS – THE TEN AMENDMENTS isn’t going to win any awards (although the flying penis cover-art is worthy of mention) but it does prove that these old dogs still have a few tricks up their sleeve.
KILLER KUTS: “Serpent Saints,” “Masters of Death,” “Thy Kingdom Koma,” “When In Sodom,” “In The Blood”