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Oh dear lord is this album amazing. Let me start off by talking a bit about the drastic turn the mighty Entombed takes with their sophomore release "Clandestine". The first thing you may notice, that is, if you've spent some time with their equally monstrous debut, is the vocals. Instead of the guttural bellows of the great LG Petrov or the corrosive, goulish growls of the always enjoyable Orvar Säfström, we are presented here with some of the most emotional, intense and rage-inducing vocals ever recorded. The man behind both the microphone, drums and I would suspect, most of the riffs is the main character of swedish death metal himself (as author Daniel Ekeroth puts it), Nicke Andersson. These growls are so unorthodox and are immensely different from the standard growl performed by someone like Christofer Johnsson or Jörgen Sandström. They are otherworldly for lack of a better term and there are countless moments on this album where they act as the centerpiece, perfectly illustrating the caustic terrors expressed within both the lyrics and the riffs.
In addition to this masterful musicianship, this is the first album where the band is a stable and cohesive unit with the addition of Lars Rosenberg on bass guitar, and while I feel it's an instrument that's not as prominent as it was on "Left Hand Path" it fullfills its purpose to a great extent and provides the guitars with a much appreciated warmth. As for the guitars... this is perhaps a perfect blueprint of the "swedish sound" as it is known. This is the album that perfected that full, meaty, chainsaw-like distortion that few bands can achieve. In recent years, retro-death groups such as Bloodbath, Evocation, Smothered and Entrails have attempted to emulate this exact sound (with Entrail's second release coming closest in my oppinion) and this just shows the impact of this very album. While I prefer the all-encompassing warmth of the guitars on "Left Hand Path", I believe the sound is used best here because it perfectly highlights the endless guitar-battling held within. In addition to this, this is the first Entombed release where we can see clear traits of the rockier sound that they incorporated later. This can be heard in the really melodic sections. We are given more of a collage of brutal yet eerie riffs more than an album and there are so many different styles and sounds incorporated within. You got your rockier, up-beat and more accessible songs such as "Evilyn", "Stranger Aeons" and "Crawl", your more brutal, tremolo-riddled tracks such as "Living Dead", "Blessed Be" and "Chaos Breed" and then your classic eerie, diminished tracks like "Sinners Bleed", "Severe Burns" and "Through The Collonades". In fact, I jest mentioned every damn song on the album, you know why? Because they are all worthy of being mentioned and listened to.
There you have my exploration of Entombed's awe-inspiring "Clandestine" but I have one last point to make. This album sounds nothing like what you'd expect from a band similar to Grave or Unleashed and I believe this has to do with the very melodic atmosphere and musically aware tone o the album. The clarity of the guitars allows for better variety in musicianship and this allows for both an element of melody and harmony, something that is usually lacking in old school swedish death metal, and for a reason, but this nevertheless does achieve what it set out to do. The synergy that is created on this album is beyond brutal and it is a definite riff-fest that should be enjoyed and appreciated by any death metal enthusiast.
Finally, of there was one song I'd show to sum up the album it would no doubt be "Chaos Breed". Why you ask? Well, because it demonstrates every single moment of utter brutality on the album. It begins with an eerie graveyard tremolo riff and gradually builds up amazing harmonies until around the 1 minute 15 second mark, the drums hammer down relentlessly and Nicke Andersson delivers one of the most collosal verses in the realm of metal. Pretty damn brutal stuff, and I'll leave it at that.
Let's get right down to it, the review title says it all. Now, it happens I grow 39 years old right today and I'm such a nostalgic mood; I'm picking up old records from my extremely wide collection and I can't help noticing this work is very inferior to its forerunner "Left hand path", it's something as clear as the light of the sun if only you listen to them the former close to this one I'm speaking of.
That Entombed created a way of playing out of anything I guess it is something given as an axiom. Did any band play something similar to them in those early days? I can't recall any name..., and once they reached the highest point of quality with their first release,we should have expected a lower one in their follow-up releases. Can anyone write and play only masterpieces? No band ever did, let's be honest. But we should have had something more interesting to listen to rather than this tired "Clandestine", basically similar in the guitar sounds and compositive approach to the previous one and yet lacking the freshness and the surprise effect we had appreciated so much back in 1990.
Bass and drums still create the powerfull wall of sound we would expect to find in a swedish death metal album, guitars buzz and crush the whole thing out of the stereo, but believe me, after a long time (20 years... oh my god) it is truly impossible to avoid noticing the compositions lack of variety, they lack of the gift of inspiration and they give the unpleasant impression that all these riffs have been rehearsed after having been sunk in oblivion then resurrected because there was anything better to work with.
Nicke Andersson's vocals are nearly terrible. Are them death metal? Nowhere near L.G. Petrov's ones, they paved the way for what would have come later, a progressive and inexorable detaching from their death metal roots until their music turned up to be some rock and roll played with heavily distorted guitars and over-exposed drums and bass.
So, what we have got here is a fourty minutes of something still pretending to be death metal but already preferring to be something else, better if more attractive for a wider listening public. We're speaking of times when records still used to sell a load of copies... The catchy melodies of which all the songs are imbibed will enchant someone disaccustomed to what is real death metal and will surely let him think this album is very good and I'm talking crap since 30 minutes or something, but if you just scratch out the surface you'll find nothing less than an album which disappointed me 20 years ago and I have never rehabilitated: much show and very little behind it. 65 is even too much, but it gets this because... well... what they've done later is so terrible that even "Clandestine" rises up above the horizon. After all these years I ripened the opinion Entombed had a shot alone with "Left hand path" and then fell down into a soft but unavoidable decay.
One of the dangers of producing an astoundingly awesome debut album is the amount of expectations you carry into the followup: how do you possibly improve upon perfection, in this case the Left Hand Path? The answer is that you probably can't, so try and write the best songs you can and let the legacy speak for itself. In the case of Entombed, the style and sound on the debut were so fresh in the minds of an emerging genre of metal fans that it would have been foolish to let the reins loose. Clandestine is honestly pretty close in tone to its masterful predecessor, but there are a few minor differences. It's more accessible simply through its predilection towards building monumental grooves that had a massive appeal across the metal boundary (and into the emerging mosh scene, which I call a scene because a great many people were brought into extreme metal because of their attraction to the physical side of the concert experience...blame "Raining Blood").
Clandestine also had a little more of a rock injection, something the band would continue to flesh out for the remainder of their career, but here it is in its infancy, hanging at the very edge of perception, and cycling fresh blood through the band's rotted death metal heart. The guitar tone and oppressive atmosphere of Left Hand Path is retained here, but cleaned up ever so slightly. Lars-Goran Petrov had left the band in 1991 due to some personal problems (he would return), so the band had been trying a few new vocalists. Orvar Säfström of Nirvana 2002 fronted the Crawl EP, and Johnny Dordevic of Carnage was supposedly going to do the vocals here, but it was drummer Nicke Andersson's vocals which made the cut, not a huge surprise, since the man was also responsible for much of the songwriting.
"Living Dead" tears straight from the grave like the titular risen corpse, given a new lease on brains and mayhem, the caustic guitar salvo derived straight from the grinding morass of Left Hand Path. The album's first massive breakdown occurs right at about a minute here, a chunky thrashing rhythm glazed in some samples for effect, and it's not difficult to visualize the violence this kind of riff could cause at a concert. But oh, it is only the first of several. "Sinners Bleed" starts at a rolling tank pace ala Bolt Thrower before the great pause at around 1:00 where the keyboard strike builds sufficient b-horror flick tension and the guitars get to rocking out (the first real trace of the band's groove rock imperative). But perhaps the very best part of this track is the grinding rhythm at around 2:30, thick like a thousand fists beating your door down, as the creatures attached to them seek your blood for sustenance. "Evilyn" kicks directly into another of the album's most memorable moments, a snappy thrash/death rhythm which bounces along, teasing in that 'you can't touch this' manner in which yours truly may have felt about Skeletor's co-conspiratorial concubine in the 80s. The song includes a creepy, repetitious acoustic guitar dowsed in chorus while the rhythm transforms into a morose, mortuary blues. Also, I'd be remiss to not mention the necro-smutty lyrics, which I love:
'She's gone down below
but I'm no longer at her side
and I'm drunk with the love
of the dead who is my bride'
"Blessed Be" grinds off with a choppy d-beat energy pulsing through its veins, mad splatters of confused leads weave through its depths. A wall of chords at 2:30 announces a tempo change towards a dirge-like doom rhythm smothered in multi-tracked vocals, and then another lead offsets a punk thrust to the climax death riffing. Not my favorite track on the album, but for Clandestine, even the lesser offering like this is pretty damned good. "Stranger Aeons" begins like an otherworldly lurch into darkness, before it becomes the most insane rocking mosh-off festival Entombed have ever written, with a Slayer-like feel to its descending guitar fill, and then another bruising mid-paced chugger rhythm cut through by a very catchy sub-riff. Oh, but wait, at 1:50 it offers yet ANOTHER insane breakdown, and if anyone on the dance floor was left uninjured, well, that status was about to change before the wild leads scathed off into a bog of reeking corpses. It's an undeniably excellent tune, regardless of how many steak headed mosh posses you had to shake off your back in the live setting. "Chaos Breed" is more of a surge of catchy rock rhythms basted in the band's punishing tone, blasted apart by a savage deathgrind cannon, but here the band pulls out yet another big breakdown, this time with a more direct influence from "Raining Blood".
"Crawl" is essentially the same track we heard from the teaser EP, only with the vocals transmitted through Nicke Andersson's testorone choked throat and a brighter, bloodier tone that matches the remainder of the album. It's network of creepy corridor-like rhythms sounds as lurid and inviting today as it did in 1992, and it's no joke why it was chosen as the advance peek at Clandestine's content. To follow this, the fist fighting mosh pattern that initiates "Severed Burns", soon to morph into eerie spikes of doom in the pre-verse, and then the grinding force of the verse itself. Dominant and crushing, but it's also one of my least favorites on this effort, which is saying quite a lot for the album. The final, track "Through the Colonnades", suffers no such distinction; a carefully crafted journey through haunting, clean tones offset by a flowing river of sanguine bass and background fuzz, a mounting horror that eventually caves in to the bands fierce rocking outbursts.
So in terms of following up Left Hand Path, this felt like a crisis inverted. In fact, while I don't find the album quite so flawless in comparison, it does have a more dynamic range created through the big breakdowns and carnal rock infusion. Plus, it would be a lie to say it didn't possess that same, morbid atmosphere that is so rarely found outside of the late 80s/early 90s European death metal scene, and truly, the band's first two albums are a clear demonstration of just how much they were one of its dominant forces. How many bands have come along in the past 20 years to ape the sound of Entombed? Countless fucking numbers. It's so commonplace to bite off Nihilist/Entombed (and a few of their less successful peers like Dismember) that it's almost come full circle...with a lot of hipster grind/d-beat fans thinking their favorite bands of today are somehow original.
Left Hand Path remains the better of these two monstrous offerings to my own ears, but even I have to admit that Clandestine has probably a larger influence on both metal and hardcore music, and those bands who would later join the two. Whether that has been a positive in the long run might be up for debate, but in 1991, this album could only be considered a titan of its time.
Highlights: the many stars you'll discover as this album continues to plant its undead foot in your face. But will you be alive long enough to name them?
As the album title implies, there's nothing so “clandestine” or secretive about this release because this is considered a classic among the old school death metal realm. Am I the only one though that finds this album to be a little overrated for its own good? Don't get me wrong, this is a milestone for death metal, but it isn't the king of the crop if ya know what I mean because this whole album isn't pure death metal in my mind.
Indeed this is old school with its very raw, sloppy production. Everything about this album is a mess, and that's a good thing in Entombed's case! The guitars are super-duper down-tuned with a very raw sound with a lot of drive/distortion left in the guitar riffs. The bass is no different - it's very groovy sounding and contributes to the guitars. The drums are just everywhere on this album! It's a bloody hell hole for the drum sound with its ill-tempo rhythm. As for the vocals, the crown for the sloppiest goes to that with it's deep-screaming style of singing. In short, the production is a mess. If I wouldn't have known any better, I would mistake this album for a distorted hard rock album or sludgy punk-rock.
You want riffs eh? In the death metal realm, this is considered a riffing monster as you can hear in such a track like "Living Dead" with it's thrashy intro and punk attitude throughout the song. This demonstrates how messy the album is, with the vocalist not singing at the same pace with the music (funny but true, or at least I feel like that.)
"Sinners Bleed" is definitely the track to listen to on Clandestine because it's probably the catchiest and best shows what Entombed are about (when they're not messy or sloppy.) Riffs will knock you senseless in this song, be warned!
On to the more "hard-rockish" side of Entombed, the song "Evilyn" surely shows that side of them. This track is "death'n roll" as people would say, and I'm assuming that this was the dawn of Entombed going down the hard-rock lane with this album.
Anyway, "Blessed Be" starts with a cool guitar riff echoing, then progressively becomes very punk-rockish. My o-my this album is just full of diversity.
Back to death metal now - "Stranger Aeons" has written all over it death metal, old school style, with its monstrous double-bassing opener and a scream.
Wouldn't you know it that on this track "Chaos Breed" it's a return back to thrash metal! As I said, this is a very diverse sounding album, and this track has an almost metalcorish breakdown in the near-middle of the song (the dawn of the genre "metalcore?!" Lol, could be.)
The longest track on the album, "Crawl," will leave you crawling (excuse the corny metaphor use, but I couldn't think of anything better to say!) It's death metal mixed with thrash metal basically, but this track can be a little boring.
"Severe Burns" is yet another so-so track as compared to "Crawl." It's more groove-ish death metal for your ears.
"Through The Collonades" is the last monster track that starts off with a slow, soft guitar opening. Wow, Entombed is playing a ballad? Wrong, chunky riffs break through a minute later and thrash till death!
Overall, this album is a must have for death-heads of all kinds. There's so much diversity in the sound on this album, which makes it all the more enjoyable to listen to. This beats hearing someone doing cookie-monster growls over demonic death metal riffs with blistering blast beats (can you say Cannibal Corpse?!) Underrated? Not really, but overrated? Yes indeed it's overrated to be called one of the best in death metal. Though, it is all around metal with tons of riffs to offer and sloppy moshable tunes. It'll take time for you to appreciate Entombed, but give it time and the album will grow on you clandestinely...
Ear Catchers: Mostly all of them, especially Sinners Bleed.
I got this CD, listened to it a few times and thought: “Damn, this is overrated”. But I decided to search for more reviews on it, and they all kept on saying: “Clandestine is a masterpiece of european death metal”. So I decided to listen to it with more care. It should be a revealing listening experience, so I got my headphones, waited everyone to go out (so the people woudn’t take my attention away). After all, I pressed “play”.
The listening revealed me an aspect that was unnoticed in the first listens: The scary, terror-movie-like atmosphere. The guitarists and the vocalists are responsible for this. They bust out some heavy death riffs (and because of their characteristic guitar tone, there’s a built-in sense of evilness on them. You don’t believe? Go listen to Morbid Angel’s “Lord of All Fevers and Plages”), for example, the first one in “Chaos Breed”. There are also plenty of haunting guitar lines and solos (0:48 at “Sinners Bleed” and the last part of “Evilyn” respectively). Nicke Andersson can be credited by his evil lyrics and growly vocal delivery. His vocals sound like a much more extreme version of Max Cavalera. He abuses the traditional “UUUUURRRGGHHH!” of death metal, and sometimes he seems to be giving orders (“Stranger Aeons”) and even dialoging with the backing vocalist (“Crawl”). The backing vocalist also provides some ultra tortured screams (2:50 to 3:30 at “Sinners Bleed” and the middle part at Evilyn). To complement, there is some keyboard usage (don’t worry, the keyboard lines won’t last more than 2 or 3 seconds).
The music is pretty good. The guitars have that trademark buzzssaw sound (courtesy of Sunlight Studios), and there are some great riffs, of the death metal and thrash variations. This album seems to be in the death/thrash border. I might even say it’s a bit more thrash than DM (45% DM and 55% thrash. Harsher thrash, but still thrash). Most riffs are great, but there are some noteworthy: The first one at “Evilyn”, the majority at “Sinners Bleed”, the DM riff at the start of “Crawl”, 2:08 at “Blessed Be” (very good) and my favorite riff on the CD, “Severe Burns” at 1:29. Morbid Saint has a similar riff but I forgot in which song. Don’t ask me if it’s a ripoff!
The lead guitar has some good solos, nothing special, though the one at “Chaos Breed” is pretty good. The slower solos have some melody.
The drumming isn’t Flo Mounier or Proscriptor-style but it does work ok. It’s just snare-bass plus some long fills. These are nailed at the right moments, avoiding overloading (like Morbid Angel’s “Covenant”). I wish I could listen to more double-bass here. Blasting is absent, but I’m sure it wouldn’t go well here (meh, they don’t go well anywhere). Once in a blue moon the drummer screws up, but hey, let’s not get nitpicky. As for the bass, I think it could be used as another ambience tool, just like Cryptopsy’s “Phobophile”, after the piano intro or some songs on Marduk’s “Dark Endless”. Obviously, it’s buried under the buzzsaw guitars.
The songs are great. I’d choose as highlights “Living Dead”, which is my favorite song here because of its mindless agression, “Sinners Bleed” and “Evilyn”. But every other song has its great moments, even the Evilyn/Sinners Bleed cross called “Stranger Aeons”. The weakest song here is the last one, due the lack of good riffs (though the intro is decent).
After listening to it, I understood why this is so praised. Entombed laid the ground for many bands from Sweden, including DM-era Marduk and what those Gothenburg bands have that can be called “heavy”. It really deserves all the praise and must be owned.
In their day, Entombed were untouchable. While many consider their debut "Left Hand Path" to be their best, I prefer "Clandestine" as it is heavier and more polished, while retaining the crunch and aggression of its predecessor. The track "Living Dead" has to be one of the most face–ripping openings to an album of all time. No messing around with samples, feedback, or acoustic introductions, just straight into the full–on death metal maelstrom.
Listening to this album is best done in one sitting, as an entirety, rather than dissected track by track. Each song seems to feed off that before it. There are more subtle moments throughout the album, including a few choice samples. These further amplify the brutality of the headlong charge through one of death metal's Finest Hours.
Even though vocalist LG Petrov was temporarily absent from the band during the recording, the vocals of Nicke Anderson (not Johnny Dordevic, as the liner notes say) are the most brutal the band produced in their recording career. The guitar sound is actually crisper and punchier than on "Left Hand Path", and the bass and drums are also more clearly defined than on the debut.
After "Clandestine" Entombed's career took a downward slide into the murky world of "Death n' Roll", almost completely deserting their death metal roots. There may be some hope in the future, as Entombed seem to have rediscovered the Left Hand Path…
One of my favorite Swedish Death Metal bands is Entombed, they were one of the first Death Metal bands I've ever heard. There are many arguements over Entombed, some fans split between old Entombed (Left Hand Path) and Newer Entombed (Wolverine Blues).
I enjoy both Entombed styles, but I'd much rather listen to Clandestine than "Wolverine Blues" or "To Ride..", you get what I'm saying? Not that those two albums are horrible, but they simply do not compare to the classic swedish death metal style of early Entombed.
1991 was a good year for Sweden. Clandestine came out and fellow Swedes Dismember and Grave brought out their masterpieces "Like An Everflowing Stream" and "Into The Grave" but this album really stood out from the rest.
Clandestine is the definition of a classic death metal album. Startin' off with "Living Dead" and blastin' straight after that is the monster "Sinners Bleed", which I've actualy passed out headbanging to, goin to "Evilyn" and "Blessed Be" this fucken album does NOT SLOW DOWN!
The guitars rule this album and they will chew you up and spit your ass out like you had "Skoal" tattooed on your fucken head. The sound is death metal, but the riffs range from thrashy to groovy with that familiar rock and roll vibe and that Swedish tone shared with Dismember and Grave.. Its not as strong as it is in later albums but its there in Clandestine.
I cant find a single fucken bad thing about this album, and thats damn good. I can replay this 666 times and I'll still be headbanging and throwing up the horns the whole time. I cannot get tired of this album.
My highest reccomendation, if for some Christian reason you've never heard this album, it's a must get. Fans of Dismember, Grave, and Seance will really love this album. And if you think Entombed started with Wolverine Blues, you're in for one big ass fucken surprise.
==Originaly on Morbid Metal (I co-own and write)==
This is my first review so be gentle :)
I was surprised to see that no one else had reviewed this death metal classic. For my money this is the finest death metal release to date. Awesome riffs that are accentuated by a monstrous tone, a heavy atmosphere and interesting songs make this masterpeice one of my favorite albums ever.
Like I said the guitars dominate on this album. The tone is godly and the riffs alternate between thrashy and groovy dishing up a variety of sound that makes this disc so replayable. Lots of "rock and roll" undertones are found throughout this album which may detract some death metal purists but to me it justs adds to the kickassity of the offering.
Top tracks would be Sinners Bleed, Evilyn, and Severe Burns.
If you like death metal seved up with some nice groove check this out. Fans of Dismember Autopsy and Slayer should take notice of this record.