'Back To The Front', was originally intended for release at the end last year but due to band name legal issues it has been delayed until now.
Line-up wise, there has been the expected change. It's still L-G Petrov on vocals with Nico Elgstrand moving to guitars replacing Alex Hellid and Victor Brandt recruited to cover bass. Olle Dahlstedt remains as the band's drummer and with the minor line-up change also comes the minor name change to Entombed A.D.
The most important question is how does it sound? Pretty good is the short answer; it certainly has a lot more enthusiasm to the sound than the final 'Entombed' release 'Serpent Saints...'
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It's nothing like the legendary 1990 'Left Hand Path' either, however the dirty edge to the sound is still there but not quite so noticeable and the fundamental Entombed sound is still there also. I do think 'Back To The Front' definitely marks the beginning of a new era for 'Entombed A.D.' as a new band.
The release consists of eleven tracks spewing forth dark angry lyrics, bellowing vocals from L-G that garnish an abundance of down tuned riffs and an equally dark heavy groove coming together in an aural assault of huge proportions totalling an impressive fifty-two minutes.
The drum work across the release is also good, very varied with some great patterns and at times taking a higher profile that is both warranted and welcome. I have no strong favourite track, all are highly listenable offerings that stand alone in their own right but there are quite a few that made a big impression on me, beginning with the opening track 'Kill To Live' which has an extended intro that builds, as does your anticipation, with the distant but approaching military drumbeat, into a mid pace with a superbly bleak quality and a very welcome closing guitar segment before ending on more military drum beats.
'Bedlam Attack' has crushing down tuned riffs and a spoken segment midway which adds an emphasis to the track's body of lyrics while 'Pandemic Rage' is kept interesting with constant tempo and direction changes and a great closing solo.
'Second To None' has a chorus that I guarantee every listener will end up singing along to and 'Waiting For Death' has a slightly faster tempo than previous tracks lending a sense of urgency and imminence that is compounded by racing guitar segment to the close.
One of the two longer tracks, 'Digitus Medius', with its extended powerful intro, has a slightly darker feel, heavier and more sinister than its predecessors while 'Vulture And The Traitor' has, in places, a superb heavy groove and the final track and other long track of the release, 'Soldier Of No Fortune' begins with a haunting piano opener that builds to sinister proportions expanding out into an abundance of head nodding riffs, maintaining throughout, that sinister quality, a memorable album closer.
'Back To The Front' is overall a good turnaround for a band who were possibly in danger of becoming stale and lacklustre. This release is, at times, quite a bone-crushing offering but with fresh edge to the sound yet, still with enough of an old school edge to keep early fans happy, hopefully.
Ultimately they can't keep everyone happy but I think this release will please a large percentage of fans of their early and later material, it certainly surpassed my expectations and the more I listen the more I like it.