Wednesday, June 2, 2010

10 Things I Learned from Last Night's Entombed Concert

[01] Even after losing half their original line-up and two underwhelming albums, you can't write Entombed off. They played like hell itself was about to erupt, and it damn near did. Maybe I'm just old and curmudgeonly, but I can't think of a band that's come out in the last 10 years with the same ferocity, passion, and sincerity.

[02] Nicke Andersson may have been the sparkplug that ignited the Stockholm scene (and arguably, shaped what we know now as Swedish death metal); Uffe Cederlund was most likely the quiet genius that gave Entombed a depth and scope sorely lacking in their peers (Unleashed, will you never learn?). But there can be no denying that Alex Hellid has always been Entombed's muscle, an under-rated guitar god whose debts to Black Sabbath, Autopsy, Repulsion, and Slayer have been paid back a thousandfold with some of the sickest, heaviest, headbangworthy riffs to ever burn through a pair of speakers. As Entombed's sole remaining guitarist, Hellid doubled the ampage to crush the audience into submission with his rhythm playing, then drove them into a frenzy with his leads. If there were any holes in his performance, I was too dizzy to notice them. And the ending to "Left Hand Path" redefined epic for me.

[03] LG Petrov, the only other member remaining from Entombed's glory days, is both one of death metal's most lovable frontmen, and one of its least impressive singers. His antics were entertaining enough that I was able to get past the fact that his vocals never quite rose past the roar of his bandmates (blame the soundguy and a sore throat, I guess). Also, he has a handshake like one of those wallwalking octopus toys.

[04] The garage rock influence that popped up circa Hollowman and Wolverine Blues was present on the older "death metal" albums, just buried in the Sunlight Studios production. Tonight, even old Nihilist standards like "Supposed to Rot" and "Bitter Loss" shivered and shook like a deadite Iggy Pop.

[05] By the same token, the death and roll of later Entombed is not to be underestimated, embued with a seething rage and powered by THAT guitar sound. On record, "Out of Hand" is a silly little punk number that stomps by with a memorable chorus; live, it's a sonic leviathan that rises from the depths and sweeps everyone into its madness.

[06] Be wary of anyone past their 20s who is still standing front and center at death metal shows. These people are unwell, unloved, and have nothing to lose. That said...

[07] When a giant 250 lb guy decides to put his arm around you and headbang, you really have no choice but to go along with it. Look on the bright side: things would be much, much worse for you if he decided he didn't like you.

[08] Entombed are clearly reading the message boards; the lion's share of the setlist came from the first three albums, with hardly a nod to anything since To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth. They knew what their fans wanted and happily delivered.

[09] The best earplugs are still ripped up napkins. They never come out until you want them too, and I could hear every note and inane crowd comment.

[10] The best gateway drug to death metal I could have hoped for was Clandestine. Though technically I got Sepultura's Beneath the Remains first, it was Clandestine that set me inexorably on the (left hand) path towards Napalm Death, Carcass, Obituary, Morbid Angel, and At the Gates. By then, it was all over for me. MTV and corporate rock would never be able to push through my scabbed-over ears.