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Here’s a live album with a difference. Always striving for something a little more unconventional, Sweden’s Entombed have released one of the more bizarre, if not entirely gusty ‘live’ albums ever recorded. It seems as though Entombed have never embraced the conventional recording of a live album – they’ve only had one prior to this (released by Earache after severing their contract) and as they state on the liner notes within, they never wanted that one to see the light of day! Now that ‘Unreal Estate’ comes fully endorsed by the band, there’s an intriguing mystery to how well this disc actually works.
‘Unreal Estate’ was recorded live in March 2002 with the Royal Ballet Company at the Royal Opera House, Stockholm, Sweden. This wasn’t just a one off performance, but the last of eight for the first season with four more in the fall. It basically involved Entombed playing a bunch of specially arranged tunes to a packed house of Opera theater toffs with the Royal Ballet Company performing some sort of artistic interpretation to the soundtrack provided. A strange concept indeed, and on the surface involves two forms of art and expression that couldn’t be more diametrically opposed. Incredibly, Entombed played to a packed house every night, received standing ovations and rave reviews.
Listening to ‘Unreal Estate’ is not like listening to a regular live album. Unlike a typical metal gig, you won’t find any crowd involvement here, other than the odd polite applause and the rousing reception afforded the band at the end of the show, which just happens to be a killer rendition of the outro to ‘Left Hand Path’. Don’t expect any adjustment in volume compromises either, this is loud and heavy in true Entombed fashion – the Opera going punters were even given official Royal Opera House earplugs (for the first time ever) to cope with the impending cacophony they were about to witness.
Unreal Estate is a great listen, and the new interpretations of tracks like ‘Chief Rebel Angel’, the throbbing ‘Say it in Slugs, Returning to Madness and Night of the Vampire’ are an absolute treat. However, as good as the listen is, ‘Unreal Estate’ was also performed as a visual concept and as such the audio soundtrack really only works by half. I’d be extremely interested in seeing a DVD release of this in the near future. In its current form, ‘Unreal Estate’ the live album is slightly frustrating because you know there is something else happening but it’s just not tangible. If not only to witness the ballet interpretations (which I just cannot fathom at all), I want to see the faces of the Opera punters when Lars Goran Petrov unleashes his mighty roar at the beginning of ‘Say it in Slugs’. Surely, that would be a sight!
originally written for www.pyromusic.net