ENTOMBED, Entombed (1997, Earache)
What we have here is a properly cranky looking skull-and-crossbones stamped into some olde-tyme pirate-booty coin. And then the coin is sorta hazily floating over a peeling coat of lead paint, or something? This is a pretty dashed-off affair that actually recycles the coin image from the band’s earlier Stranger Aeons EP, but in much greater detail. I wonder if this coin is an actual thing that was photographed, or if there’s just a single master image that was manipulated to a greater degree to produce the starker EP image? Who knows. It’s a pretty nice skull, but a pretty hacky recycling.
Collecting a bunch of EPs, singles, and other ephemera, Entombed is certainly one of the better such compilations in metal history. You’ll get your money’s worth just in the Crawl EP tracks, possibly the three greatest recordings in the band’s history and the reasons for the Council allowing such a dubiously unique cover into the Skullection. On that one EP, recorded after LG Petrov left but before Johnny Dordevic was (nominally) recruited to replace him, Crawl is graced with the awesome guest vocals of Nirvana 2002’s Orvar Säfström. He only did these three songs with the band, but he left his mark as their best vocalist, hands down. The title track would appear later on Clandestine, and “Bitter Loss” originally appeared on “Left Hand Path”, but the versions here are fairly different than their earlier and later counterparts, demonstrating the extent to which Entombed refined their songs through time. A third track, “Forsaken,” is also great. In addition to that EP, this comp also includes the aforementioned Stranger Aeons, which is also quite good, and the Out of Hand and Full of Hell EPs from their deathrock phase, which both feature some fairly good cover songs. A couple other single tracks round out the tracklist. All in all, taken on the strength of the individual songs, this is the last essential Entombed release.
— Friar Johnsen