Released: 2007, Century Media Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
When one hears the term “death metal,” it immediately brings to mind images of endless gore and “cookie monster” vocals. An entirely different take on “death” metal was practiced by Finland’s Sentenced for a dozen years. Mining what are arguably the most sorrowful, depressing lyrics ever laid to tape, Sentenced was all about passing into the afterlife, often at one’s own hand. With a cult following around the world and universal praise in their homeland thanks to later albums like THE COLD WHITE LIGHT and THE FUNERAL ALBUM, it was both shocking and fitting that Sentenced ended their life early by announcing their last show would be held in Oulu on October 1st, 2005. Recording the show for CD and DVD release was a tip of the hat to fans outside Finland who could mourn together the passing of a legend on the aptly-titled, BURIED ALIVE.
Twenty five originals are spread over two discs that cover Sentenced’s entire career, except the 1991 debut, SHADOWS OF THE PAST. While Taneli Jarva’s stint has its fans, the post-AMOK material has always been more widely accepted, mostly thanks to the stellar vocals of Ville Laihiala. To satisfy both camps, Jarva takes the stage for five tracks but it is clear Laihiala is the better man for the job, demonstrating here why his smooth, Gothic croon opened up a whole new audience and songwriting possibilities for the band. Tracks like “The Rain Comes Falling Down,” “Ever-Frost,” “Dead Moon Rising,” “No One There” and “Farewell” are chock full of rock-based riffs and bathed in rich, melodic passages that defy the morbid lyrics alongside them. As expected, the between song banter is entirely in Finnish, so to those not fluent in the language, Laihiala’s words are lost. Still, the passion and emotion that runs through his voice as the show draws closer to the end is evident with this chapter closing after sixteen years.
It was made clear by Sentenced that they will never reunite and this show was the absolute last gig they would ever play. Bringing Taneli Jarva on stage was a fitting and classy move by the band as hearing the two vocalists in their respective era showcases the diversity this band possessed. Fans of Sentenced will gleam with happiness and hang their heads in sadness at the same time upon hearing these songs but BURIED ALIVE captures the band in the final moments of their self-imposed interment and it truly must have been a magical evening to be a part of.