ENTOMBED - CLANDESTINE
Entombed started as Nihilist in Sweden in 1987, when most of the members were 15 or 16 years old. Along with Dismember (Carnage), Entombed are considered the founding fathers of Swedish death metal. Their debut album, "Left Hand Path" is the blueprint for the SDM sound - the Sunlight studio sound, including those famous "buzzsaw" guitars, was copied by legions if Swedish followers to come. Entombed were the first SDM band to land a deal through England's Earache records and "Left Hand Path" was hugely successful (by 1990 death metal standards of course).
This makes "Clandestine" one of the most highly anticipated follow up albums of 1991. Most of the guys in the band were 18-19 by this time, and they had become overnight metal gods in the eyes of their Swedish faithful. Nicke Andersson says this stardom led to cockiness which led to him firing Petrov from vocal duties just prior to recording their follow up. Consequently, Andersson fills in on vocals (having it credited to someone else in the liner notes).
Andersson's voice is really the only downside of Clandestine, as there are a fair amount of kickass SDM tunes on board here - "Chaos Breed" and "Crawl" being my two favorites - well composed and both with stellar middle sections that evolve and keep the listener engaged throughout. "Stranger Aeons" was the single off this one, and it starts with a haunting intro which makes the guitars sound doubly crunchy when they eventually come in. It's a weird choice for a single though, as the intro and outro instrumental sections dominate the duration of the song. "Evilyn" was always the other standout track on this one, because it was mostly slow and mid-tempo with great groove sections.
The production is a meatier "Left Hand Path" with the guitars sporting even more low end crunch than they did on the debut. The vocals really are such a shame, even Andersson himself admits he was not up for the task. I wish they'd go back and let Pertov sing the tracks for a re-release, these songs are just so good.
The pressure of being Swedish Death Metal's poster boys would lead to Entombed drastically changing their sound on the follow up to this album, "Wolverine Blues." This would have a Metallica-Black-Album-effect on the Swedish scene, causing most of the key SDM bands to follow suit, slow their tempos, and crank out that horrid Rot & Roll crap. It would take years before most of them realized SDM was what they should be doing again. 4 out of 5.