Entombed, Freefall, Rotting Flesh
Eightball Club, Thessaloniki, Greece

2012 seems it will be a happy new year to everybody connected to heavy metal music. The promising albums to be released by great bands this year gives a high potential on how the rest of the year will flow. On the term of gigs, nothing can be that certain, but starting a year by going to see Entombed, can’t be nothing but great. The most important and influential extreme band of the European continent came to Greece for the fourth time, having seen them first with Candlemass and Dark Tranquillity in 2002, in an all Swedish apocalyptic gig. Then it was 2004 when they made Sodom wishing not having entered the stage and on 2008 they played with the legendary thrash bands Exodus and Sabbat (I also bet Exodus are still in pain by Entombed’s performance that night). Last and fortunate time to see them was in Hellfest 2009 in France, where they proved me that on an open air gig, the only thing they do is gather corpses to be mutilated. Simply put, a band I can see every day of my life without even thinking of getting bored.

Unfortunately the promising gig didn’t start well, as Rotting Flesh which was the first band to play, where proved lesser than expected. And even worse is the fact that despite they are a very old and experienced band, they do not prove in rotting-flesh-dsc_3787-copypractice what is said in theory, stating that the more experienced a band is, the better it plays under all circumstances. I have seen them enough times, and opening gigs of great bands in the past. The result is pretty much always the same. Compositions that in overall are pointless and the vocals lost somewhere inside the complexity of their tracks. What made matters even worse was the final outcome with the cover of Sepultura’s ”Troops Of Doom”, when their bassist handled over the vocals, but the song was cut in the middle because of a broken guitar string. Let’s say that this was not their fault but was the nail in the coffin of their effort. The attempt to save it by trying to play Slayer’s ”Raining Blood” was in vain, the result was the same, a cut off piece in its beginning. The crowd applauded but I don’t know how much of them trully meant it.

Freefall on the other hand were ready for this live, as if waiting for it for ages. Entering the stage like maniacs, their groovy up tempo core style gives themfreefalldsc_3822-copy flexibility to express their full of nerve songs much easier. Great rhythm section that plays the basic stuff but produces a lot of groove, with the guitarist playing some rather minimal riffs with a very crust style in his playing but proving to be rather effective, fitting perfect with the attempt of the band to bring death metal and hardcore elements together. And of course, the vocalist whose throat spits venom and pain in every lyric, either if he’s moving back and forth the stage or simply bangs his head while not singing. For the end they left a speedy cover of ”Threatening Skies” by groove death metal masters Obituary. Few understood it the way it was played and that’s one more reason to give praises to them, as they brought the song closer to their sound, making it sound like another Freefall composition. The cheap prices on their merchandise made them win some more fans for sure. If they play with Benediction like this, it will be even better. Way to go!

Entombed were born to play live gigs and just by coincidence they have released nine great albums, six great EP’s and some even greater compilations. These guys not only are the epitome of the term LIVE music, but they entombed-dsc_4222-copy also do it in such a convincing way, that make all bands sound like idiots. Yes, such is the difference of Entombed and the ones trying to oppose them, especially if we take death metal bands as a comparison. If anyone of you knows a band that plays 23 songs (!!!!!!!!!!) and plays two hours (!!!!!!!!!) without even thinking of coming down the stage, then I am open for further information. The joy and smiles on their faces and especially L.G. Petrov’s mood for joking, leaves no doubt if all that’s happening is true. At parts of the gig, I even see people slapping each other to believe what they see and listen comes from this world. Surely the beginning with ”Living Dead” isn’t. Surprise, yelling, headbanging, pushing, sweat, bad smell, beer dropped everywhere and a feeling of the ’90s returning again is what will follow throughout the whole gig. They play my favourite ”Sinners Bleed” straight after and it’s clear they have no mercy for noone inside Eightball, where almost 250 people don’t know how to react. ‘

”Serpent Saints” adds some groove at the start, there’s going to be plenty more later, but first some thrash hints with ”Eye For An Eye”, a lesson in Swedish death metal riffing with ”Crawl” and a mid tempo nightmare called ”When In Sodom”. As you see, the menu includes everything and everyone’s tastes are more than satisfied, another groovy one is ”In The Blood” and then starts the explosion with ”Chief Rebel Angel” preparing the ground for a continuous trio of songs coming from the milestone of Swedish metal entitled ”Wolverine Blues”.entombed-dsc_4183-copy Entombed’s ”Black Album” is unleashed on us with ”Demon” at first (where I personally start losing contact with reality), the title track next and of course, ”Out Of Hand” with one of the best intros in life (”I Am Jesus Christ”…”No You’re Not,You’re Dead”). I could describe it as total chaos and a feeling of wanting to cry from joy, but then comes ”Supposed To Rot” to decapitate everything and everyone alive in the club. Played on tripple speed, these legendary songs show how much better they sound live after all these years.

From the speakers we listen a sample saying ”I Am The Way” and ”Eyemaster” sends us to hell and back. Unbelievable width of songs to play and ”Say It In Slugs” represents ”Uprising”, people go up and down, dancing, headbanging, embracing each other, it’s official we’re not in a gig but in a big party and the hosts are unstoppable, even when playing Roky Eriksson’s ”Night Of The Vampire”. It’s just distraction because then comes ”Left Hand Path”. I should stop writing but how else could I state that the outro played with a guitar instead of keyboards is ten times more fuckable? The birth of all European death metal lies on this track. Enough said. Time for a break and a blowing encore including seven (lucky seven I guess) more tracks (!!!!!!!!). ”Chaos Breed” reminds us why ”Clandestine” is an album that still creates shock and awe while listening to it, but nothing would have happened without ”Left Hand Path”, so let’s take one more hit under the belt with ”Drowned”. More than aentombed-dsc_4550-copy party, the gig turns to a tribute to our childhood. And the godless five-piece simply can’t stop playing…

The catastrophic riff of ”Stranger Aeons” creates a maelstrom inside the club, and even ”Damn Deal Done” which eases (?) things a bit can prepare us for a ”Revel In Flesh” we have never listened to again. Full of certainty, Entombed close the gig with the first two songs on ”To Ride, Shoot Straight And Speak The Truth”, with the title track coming first and ”Like This With The Devil” being the final curtain call to this tornado that stormed Thessaloniki. Easily the best performance they’ve done in Greece. It is amazing how much better they are each time they come to play than the previous one. The entering of new bassist Victor Brandt has made the band invincible, as Nico Elgstrand makes a tremendous guitar duo with Alex Hellid. Entombed with two guitars is orgasm without touching. Olle Dahlstedt really smashed his drumkit and L.G. Petrov is simply the big brother we all would like to have. Furious, enraged, seeing red from obsession, but also smiling, joking, giving and taking beer and cigarettes. A big heart in general. I think that as soon as we get over it (if this ever happens) we’ll see them again, it won’t take less than a year or two to accept what happened. Other bands claim, lie and believe they do gigs. Entombed simply do it. Masters for life!

Report: Aggelos “Redneck” Katsouras.
Photos: Louis Konstantinou.