Some reviews are easier than others, but when you are asked to retrospectively trawl back through the annals of time to offer your thoughts on a live version of what many would consider to be a stone cold classic, genre defining wok of genius, then it’s right to approach with caution as you would a wounded bear or anyone wearing a band t-shirt that didn’t purchase from a gig.
Whatever the legal ramifications have been for Swedish Godfathers of ‘Death n’ Roll’ in recent years that has seen two versions of the band touring around the world, ‘Clandestine’ was and is a formidable piece of work. I often struggle though, with the whole concept of the ‘Live’ album in this day and age. I can’t really see the point. Given that today’s music scene from a commercial perspective means that dwindling album sells and the proliferation of streaming services means more people can listen to more music than ever with a veritable smorgasbord of choice but with meagre renumeration to the bands themselves, means their only recourse effectively is to tour and to tour hard. These days it’s not uncommon to see band members from what we would consider to be ‘high profile ne famous’ bands manning the merchandise stand, punting for business. What I am trying to say in a rather long-winded way is that the live album and the entomology behind it seems moribund today given that in the past, the live album gave fans starved of opportunities to see their favourite bands in the flesh a taste of the live experience. Anyway, regardless of the reasons behind this release, this is apparently a two-part disc which documents a 2016 appearance at a Swedish concert hall with Sweden’s Malmö Symphony Orchestra and Choir arrange and performing a symphonic version of Clandestine with accompanying performances from the band unfortunately I didn’t get to hear this.
The second disc is the 2016 iteration of Entombed blasting their way through Clandestine in full. It’s a joy to hear these songs again and allows you a fragmented glimpse back to 1991 when this album was first released and revel in its snot nosed savagery as it thumbed its nose at what was then tired heavy metal clichés and Entombed just simply did their own thing. Songs such as ‘Stranger Aeons’, ‘Severe Burns’ and ‘Sinners Bleed’ are white hot slabs of molten metal thunder and whilst the production here is slightly muted, to hear the band tear through these classics as they do, should fill your heart with joy. Regardless of the rationale here behind this release, it’s worth remembering that when Entombed bust on the scene in 1990 with the seminal ‘Left Hand Path’ (I still have a very clear recollection of receiving a cassette via a friend in the tape trading scene, loading it into my non more primordial Walkman and literally being stopped in my tracks as to what I was hearing) they were as fresh, vital and invigorating as anything I had ever heard. As a ‘Brucie Bonus’, the last track on here has Entombed plough through the song ‘Left Hand Path’ which remains as essential today as it was back in the day. Who is this release for and why? Well I am fucked if I know, but is this worth a listen? Of course, the answer is a resounding yes.
(8/10 Nick Griffiths)