Entombed - Serpent Saints - The Ten Amendments
Threeman Recordings
Death Metal
10 songs (41:24)
Release year: 2007
Reviewed by Goat

If ever there exists a band in the Metal kingdom that hasn’t received the rewards due, it’s Entombed. A vital part of the Swedish Death Metal heritage with 1990 debut Left Hand Path and follow-up Clandestine, the band has stuck at it through thick and thin, creating the much-maligned genre of Death N’Roll with 1993’s Wolverine Blues and then falling largely from favour, with a string of excellent albums of varying heaviness released between 1997 and 2003, before courting controversy with 2005’s Unreal Estate, a live album with the added element of ballet dancers. Fans will be delighted to hear that a DVD release of that is being prepared, many complaining that the visual effect was somewhat lost on an audio-only release. It’s the band’s ninth album that’s the focus here, however, the back-to-the-roots blast of Serpent Saints – The Ten Amendments

Putting it simply, this is the band’s best album in years, even approaching the level of the early albums. Hype has a tendency of running out of control and shooting expectations skywards, only to leave a plethora of disappointed fans in its wake, yet without a certain degree of hype people would treat Serpent Saints as they have the last five albums – good, but nothing incredible. Regardless of the fact that whilst others like Dismember have made their name by plugging away at the same thing regardless, Entombed experiment, wilfully messing with the formula, and if that produces something that isn’t exactly the same as what came out the last time around, so be it.

This is certainly the most old-school that Entombed have sounded since at least 1994. Whether it’s the referential Masters Of Death, with its name-checks for everyone from Napalm Death to Venom (and some of the most-growl-along-able lyrics you’ll have heard in a while, ‘We love it like you love Jesus/It does the same thing to our souls’ – might not sound much, but with the music behind it it’s incredibly catchy) or When In Sodom, with children’s choirs and samples, there’s a gnarly low-fi atmosphere that roots this album firmly in the early nineties. Add this to the honourable Lars-Goran’s best vocal performance for a while, deep growls and snarls that are easily understandable yet the heaviest they’ve been for ages, and you have the key to a great album.

Going back and listening to Left Hand Path again, it’s interesting to see just how far the band’s skills have come. There’s nothing on that album as catchy as The Dead, The Dying And The Dying To Be Dead or Thy Kingdom Coma, and whilst early Entombed has an unfortunate tendency to get a bit samey after a while, there are no such problems with Serpent Saints. The Rock elements aren’t gone completely, they’ve been absorbed fully and made a part of the background, leaving you to concentrate on the Death Metal that’s coming through loud and clear.

It’s not perfect. The departure of Uffe Cederlund has reduced Entombed to a one-guitar band, and whilst Alex Hellid does an excellent job, it’s tantalising to think just how much better this could have been were there two. Also, closing track Love Song For Lucifer simply doesn’t work, its nursery-rhyme vocals and attempts at spookiness may be a surprise addition to the band’s repertoire, but it feels wrong after the near-perfection of the nine songs before it. However, the other tracks click like nothing else for a while, Serpent Saints being the spiritual successor to the band’s early albums if not the chronological one.

Initial impressions to this probably won’t be favourable. Those used to Swedish Death Metal bands playing old-school Swedish Death Metal will very likely sneer at the band that created Swedish Death Metal returning to its roots and playing – old-school Swedish Death. Yet, such is the passion on show, such is the skill in playing and writing, that if you like the sounds that came out of Stockholm before Melodeath came along and buggered everything up (and who doesn’t?) then you’ll love this.

The more astute of you will have noticed a deliberate vagueness about the details of the songs on offer. Take a chance on Serpent Saints, give it time to work its sludgy magic, discover all its little intricacies for yourself, and you won’t be disappointed.

Killing Songs :
All but Love Song For Lucifer
Goat quoted 87 / 100
Other albums by Entombed that we have reviewed:
Entombed - Wolverine Blues reviewed by Charles and quoted CLASSIC
Entombed - Left Hand Path reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
Entombed - Unreal Estate reviewed by Alex and quoted no quote
Entombed - Clandestine reviewed by Jack and quoted 95 / 100
Entombed - Morning Star reviewed by Danny and quoted 94 / 100
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