By Jason Williams
January 17th 2017, The Roxy, West Hollywood CA: One of metal’s greatest privileges is to get to hear the first influences within the genre, whether it be the fierce, classic, thrash riffing from the Big Four, Emperor’s symphonic black metal wall of sound, or Suffocation’s pioneer brutal technical death metal genre, we’re truly fortunate to bare witness to what makes metal universally unique and magical. No stranger to being a wide influence to metal, legendary Swedish death metal group Entombed introduced ‘Left Hand Path’ in 1990, bringing along a bombastic death metal attack with rapid vocal work, monstrous presence, and the classic buzzsaw-like rhythm guitar sound that leaves you paralyzed in awe. After the band parted ways in 2014, most of the members went on to form Entombed AD, splitting the two bands into Entombed and Entombed AD. Despite the potential confusion, I was extremely excited at the prospect of one of Sweden’s most influential metal bands in this new incarnation. On their current North American tour, they visited the Roxy, what’s becoming one of my favorite venues due to the great intimate setting as well as the impeccably quality sound every band seems to have there.
The only local opener, Teeth, started the show right at 8 PM, to a rather light but slowly growing crowd. I assure you this band has nothing to do with the horribly cheesy and sleep-inducing horror film of the same name. No, this band is actually quite impressive. A crushing sonic avalanche of heavy doom/death metal, Teeth pulled no punches, inducing everyone in the venue into a wide-eyed stare and a hypnotized nod. The guitars were extremely heavy in the mix, allowing the dissonant chords and somber atmosphere to grow in numbers. Guitarists/vocalists Erol Ulug and Justin Moore provided grim frostbitten screams, as well as low vocals that captured the story of the music beautifully. They only played 23 minutes, but I was moved by the band, and was in awe of their quality doom/death metal. Teeth were one of the true highlights of the night, and should only grow with more and more fans.
Turbid North came on shortly after, and compared to Teeth, it was a tale of two different bands and contrasting styles. The three-piece came out playing a rather pedestrian grindcore number, with the mix still being fixed for the time being. Expecting the set to be full of of just mediocre grindcore, I was pleasantly surprised by the next song, delivering much calmer, almost progressive guitar playing from frontman and vocalist Nick “Savage” Forkel. The lead guitar was memorable, his tone pedals added a rather nice touch to the overall sound, and the drumming of John “Jono” Garrett really shone. I noticed the audience was into both styles of play, and judging from the shirts for the band in the crowd too, it seems they’re no strangers to the Los Angeles metal crowd. I definitely enjoyed Turbid North’s ability to play progressive metal much more than the not so standout grindcore songs that they included in the set.
Second to last on the bill, death grind group all the way from the state of Maryland, Full of Hell took the stage rather quickly, engulfing the audience with a vicious vocal attack that had everyone’s eyes wandering all around the stage. The guitars were extremely swift, forming a chain of death metal technicality, as well as the low-end riffs of the kind grindcore music generally should have. The absolute highlight of their set though, was the vocalist, not only in carrying a rabid stage presence that made you wonder how much self-inflicting whiplash he can take, but also screeching ever so powerfully with a unique growl to accompany. The lyrics were not decipherable, but that is never an issue with me, and judging by their barely readable logo and brutal artwork, one can assume the lyrics are quite twisted, morbid, dark and relatable to metalheads. Their set, much like Teeth, went by too quickly and they actually played less than their time allotted. Although the music didn’t stand out too much, the presence and quality vocal work and the on-stage command of the vocalist was more than enough, and with the band playing with the Cavalera brothers and Immolation in February-March, I can only imagine that tour lineup to be even more ideal for Full of Hell.
The best for last, the Swedish veterans under their slightly altered name, Entombed A.D. took the stage to a filled up Roxy venue, all attendees eager and gathering closer to the stage. From the very beginning of the band’s inception, longtime vocalist Lars-Göran Petrov looked thrilled to be running around the stage wearing a huge smile, providing such long time classics as played tonight, ‘Living Dead’ and ‘Stranger Aeons’ bringing the show to life with a frantic mosh pit. It’s difficult to describe in words the experience of seeing a band that had such an influence on death metal, and especially the highlight of the entire night, their classic buzzsaw guitar sound was prominent in a grand, colossal way. Every musical counterpoint mattered, from the beginning of ‘Revel in Flesh’, to the build-up chorus of their lessened death metal material in ‘Wolverine Blues’, which I believe now to be quite underrated within their catalogue.
The guitar tone was not only extraordinarily loud, vicious, dirty, and tremendous, but took you back to the days of ‘Left Hand Path’ and ‘Clandestine’, as you closed your eyes and remembered what the meaning and full introduction was to the youth of the death metal age. Live guitarist Guilherme Miranda, and Entombed guitarist of 12 years, Nico Elgstrand, providing the incredible hulk of a guitar attack in riffage, tone and sheer grit. The classic ‘Left Hand Path’ title track received the largest reaction from the crowd, and the closer of their hour-long, 14-song set, ‘Serpent Speech’ closed the night off beautifully, and there was no real filler in the set. Time flew by as they played a well-balanced set comprising Entombed material as well as songs from the two albums they’ve released so far under the Entombed A.D. name. The venue was completely packed, knowing full well the band doesn’t tour as much as some of their other metal contemporaries, and it was just the icing on the cake to a wonderful death metal evening.
Many of us weren’t around long enough to witness several of the starting influential acts in metal, but in cases such as this, we’re fortunate to hear what made those initial tunes the classics they became. Entombed A.D.’s profound impact in Swedish death metal, and all across the world, was felt at this show, as they left no stone unturned in living up to the legacy and reputation they’ve built through their career. Here’s to many more shows for their future, and more metal to ride, shoot straight, and speak the truth with.
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More photos (by Robert DeAnda):
Entombed AD set list:
01. Midas In Reverse
02. Stranger Aeons (Entombed cover)
03. Second to None
04. Eyemaster (Entombed cover)
05. Dead Dawn
06. Living Dead (Entombed cover)
07. Out of Hand (Entombed cover)
08. Revel in Flesh (Entombed cover)
09. To Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth (Entombed cover)
10. Wolverine Blues (Entombed cover)
11. Chief Rebel Angel (Entombed cover)
12. Left Hand Path (Entombed cover)
13. Supposed to Rot (Entombed cover)
14. Serpent Speech (Entombed cover)
Remaining Tour Dates:
01/20/2017 – Portland, OR @ Dante’s
01/21/2017 – Seattle, WA @ Highline
01/22/2017 – Vancouver, BC @ Rickshaw