Entombed A.D. – The Everlasting Search for the Ultimate Riff

Thursday, 26th September 2019

It goes without say that hearing the name “Entombed” means that no formal introductions should be required. With three albums under their belt now as Entombed A.D., it seems they’ve gotten pretty consistent at understanding the basics of what works for them as a band. They channel the death ‘n’ roll aspects in a groovy and catchy way that reeks of fun listening. But as guitarist Nico Elgstrand states below, the band is still hungry to step things up and seek out music and riffs that excite them as a group. In addition, we chat about the old school death metal revival, what he’s learned from being in bands, and more.

Dead Rhetoric: Congrats on the new album, it seems you guys really know how to make a fun death metal album.

Nico Elgstrand: Thanks man, it’s been really overwhelming to see the response to it so far. The songwriting process felt like it sucked but it usually does. But the recording process managed to not get too tangled up in the technology of today. We just went into a room together and bashed it out for a couple of days. I can also hear it, when I compare it to the other albums. It’s a lot more ‘us,’ how we actually sound when we are on a good day and everyone is relatively sober [laughs].

Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel you’ve improved upon or changed for Bowels of Earth?

Elgstrand: I think the main difference was that Guilherme [Miranda], our other guitar player, his energy and general lack of Swedish-ness, for lack of a better word, is really nice. We argue, and there is a lot of back and forth, but when we are done, everyone is happy. It’s not like someone has to go home and say, “Fuck!” We chisel out everything so that everyone is comfortable in it. The only new ingredients in the soup was him, and the dynamic feels much different and much better.

Dead Rhetoric: Now with three albums under your belt as Entombed A.D., do you feel that you’ve identified the sound you are shooting for? Or do you simply view is as a continuation of Entombed?

Elgstrand: We don’t really think, or at least I don’t think about it that much. I started off recording albums as Entombed, and we were friends before that. I played bass with Entombed, then I played guitar. At that time, there were a bunch of members that switched out. I think Entombed has always been the sum of the parts and it’s a tank. It’s an entity of it’s own. Obviously, with LG [Petrov]’s voice it is much better, but what I mean is that we changed names but at the end of the day we don’t think about it. At the end of the day, its that everlasting search for the ultimate riff, or combination of riffs. You don’t look in a specific box, you look everywhere.

There’s no ambition to go outside and do something completely different. You can’t see the consistency after like 600 albums [laughs]. Entombed has been on quite a few searches, but I think with this album if you asked everyone in the band, you would get the most thumbs up from everybody. If you would vote democratically, which we don’t, I think this one would represent us the best as we sound.

Dead Rhetoric: It’s the most “Entombed” Entombed album then…

Elgstrand: Yeah, it’s the most “Entombed” Entombed A.D. [laughs]. Whatever Entombed is – whether it’s the early death metal or death ‘n’ roll, but with this line-up, I think it’s the closest we’ve come to with happiness together on a record. We can actually talk to each other [laughs]. No, but whenever you are a struggling artist and you’ve released something, you will look upon it differently afterwards and find lots of faults that you don’t want to do over again. Sometimes you are like, “What the fuck is this? I didn’t like this song at all in the beginning. But now it’s the best!” With this one, listening to it now, it’s like “Yeah, dude. Check it out!” It’s really nice to be able to go on tour with an album that we want to play as much as possible off of it.

Dead Rhetoric: So does that quest to keep everyone satisfied help continue the band along?

Elgstrand: No, it’s just about giving everyone some space. In the end, if you have one supernazi songwriter with a thousand of the best songs, it’s like ‘fuck it’ – it’s not worth it. But then if you are the best song writer in the world, you will just get a band that will do exactly as you say. Entombed has always had some main riff and lyric writers, the whole coming together of each release is dependent on getting everyone together so it will sound good.

No one just wants to make everyone else happy, but if you know that the other members like their part and they like the song, they are going to play it great and it will make the song sound better. I guess you realize at this late age, that if you do that instead of telling someone to play better, it works better [laughs]. But in your mind, you are like, “You fucking prick, play it better!” But that’s not a good strategy, not even in death metal [laughs].

Dead Rhetoric: What can you say about the covers that were made for Bowels of Earth? What do you feel that it’s important to do when making a cover of someone else’s music?

Elgstrand: I think that it’s really important that you can just make your own version of it. The farther away from the original, the more interesting it might get. If you are too close to the original – anything you do that reminds you directly of the original song would identify it as the original and it’s not as good as the original. But when you are like half way through the song and you are like, “What the fuck? Hold on a second.” That sort of thing is much cooler. We have recorded a bunch of metal songs, and it sounds great, but we read the lyrics, and I’m a huge fan of Hank Williams recently, I just realized his greatness not so long ago – it blew my mind.

When I read the lines, “My distant uncle passed away/And left me quite a batch/And I was livin’ high until the fatal day/A lawyer proved I wasn’t born, I was only hatched” and I thought about LG singing it, I knew it couldn’t be bad. So we tried it, and it wasn’t supposed to be on the album. The record company asked us to record some covers, because it’s always good to have them. But it came out so great that we put it on the album.

Dead Rhetoric: I think that it fits with the album really well. If you didn’t know it, you wouldn’t be able to pick it out as the cover track.

Elgstrand: Yeah – we took the whole song and melody and threw it out and just kept the lyrics. There are similarities, but it was really nice how it freed us to write our own song, from an already insanely good song in the back of your head, while hearing a good lyric. It’s really rare that you get to start with a set of words that are fantastic. If you would get that, songwriting would be easy. It flows really well because some other fucker already went through the difficulty of putting it together. There’s a musicality to the words and what it means. With someone going through the pain of doing that, you can just rip that shit. I like it, and it was a fun process. It was really inspiring.

Dead Rhetoric: With the band touring frequently, do you think about the live impact of a song when writing?

Elgstrand: Sort of. I’m trying to. It’s like a balance. If you hear this super great four-piece harmony or whatever, you would do that because it sounds great. But if you know that you can’t play it live, we just put it on the album as well. But at the end of the day, we are a band that is meat & potatoes. To put it like this, when you are producing it, you are trying to find a great sound. You can use anything from pianos to harpsichord to whatever. But you look at it and ask if you can do it. Can you do it on two guitars so you can get all the notes? Maybe you would tone down the soup, so that if someone wants to hear it live, it wouldn’t sound like something is missing.

I think that is really important when you are mixing. If you have this grand chorus that makes it big, in our case, maybe we shouldn’t do it so much as maybe a pop band would. They go full-on for the chorus. We try to constantly keep the sound like it is coming from five guys. That’s the great thing, since we are two guitar players it is pretty easy. Whatever we do, the other guy can help take care of it, and the bass does the third part. We aren’t that clever, at the end of the day, if there are more than three things going on we are just going to get dizzy [laughs]. Even if we produce the fuck out of it, its just going to be a riff and a beat with a vocal and we are good.

Dead Rhetoric: With Entombed, and Entombed A.D. in your resume, what’s your take on the old school death metal revival?

Elgstrand: I think it’s great! I think the whole thing, if you look at not just how death metal got torn away, but all music on Earth, when digital music recording made it entrance, everyone lined up without even thinking about it. Then we were slaves to shit digital equipment and completely hypnotized. But when the quality of it evolved, and we realize that we can go back to being cavemen with this great technology following you – we realized that the core of rhythm and musical communication is man to man…boom, there you have it. Death metal. I’m thinking its not just old school death metal, but humans playing human music to other humans is coming back.

We’ve realized that if we just follow the computer, shit is pretty fucking boring. So let’s break free. On the death metal side, for a while, it was like, “Really, there’s no death here.” It sounds exactly like any pop song on the radio, but with a guitar in the background with a lot of reverb on it. But there was no death going on there [laughs].

Dead Rhetoric: What keeps the excitement for metal alive for you after man years in the scene?

Elgstrand: I think it’s just getting more fun, weirdly enough. It’s gone from something that you have said to yourself and the world that you can do it, and then slowly realizing that maybe you are starting to be able to do it. You know how it feels to actually be able to do it, but you also realize that there is always going to be a quest. This insane thing of putting notes together and making sounds. It just gets more fun the better you get at it. Just like cooking or anything. Once you start doing it, you know what you want and how to get it. It’s really inspiring. Again, with the tools of today, it blows my mind. If I was 10 years old today and wanted to make some cool sounds, holy shit the possibilities!

Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel you’ve learned while being in both Entombed and Entombed A.D.?

Elgstrand: Oh yeah [laughs]. We were talking about it the other day, about how we should write a book about it – the don’ts. Being in a band is like being married to four horrible bitches and you never get laid. It’s a lot of work. You have to adjust to a lot of bullshit and make a lot of sacrifices. But that’s with any tight knit group of people. If you started any company you would have this – it’s a lot of strain. But I think that if you like the process of it then it is all good. If you want to do it to get somewhere…obviously we want to keep doing it, but if you aren’t interested in the process, it’s probably better to do something else.

Dead Rhetoric: What’s the band up to for the rest of the year?

Elgstrand: We are doing a European tour in the middle of October to mid-November. Hopefully we will hit the States and South America next year. But nothing is confirmed right now. That’s about what it looks like.

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