Saturday, January 30, 2010

Entombed - Sons of Satan Praise the Lord (2002)

Entombed have recorded a LOT of cover tunes over their career, the majority of which they have distributed through an array of short play releases, like EPs, singles and splits, with a few having appeared as bonus tracks on various version of their full-length albums. As a sane person, you probably would never have been bothered to track down and squander coin on all of these various items, thus your own exposure to these songs has been limited to internet downloads or possibly live performances. Well, the time was right in 2002 for Entombed to gather a whole pile of these things into one place, the Sons of Satan Praise the Lord compilation, and release it through Music for Nations.

Now, as an insane person, i.e. a collector (yours truly once fell into this category, sadly), the value of this 2-disc, 27-track compilation might diminish. If you've collected the band's many EPs and singles, and own the self-titled compilation from 1997, you've already got a large portion of this material. Sons of Satan Praise the Lord is still a great way to have them all under one roof, since you can just bring the two discs to your car or snowmobile and rock the hell out through the collective decades of music that have influenced your favorite death metal-gone-rock'n'roll band. As I go through this, I'm going to focus more tightly on the tracks I haven't already covered on another of the band's releases.

Disc 1 begins with Repulsion's "Black Breath", from the Out of Hand EP (and Entombed compilation), which is an average take on the song that doesn't really live up to the original, but it harmless nonetheless. "Albino Flogged in Black" is a strong cover of the doomlike track that appeared on Stillborn's debut Necrospirituals, and I rather liked it, also the fact that Entombed has come up on a lot of their country's good, obscure acts like this one. It's naught but a few chords given a dank, bluesy atmosphere, but it rocks. After this, Entombed cover both "March of the S.O.D." and "Sergeant D and the S.O.D" from Speak English or Die. The former is alright, but lacks those pure NY thrash tones of the original, so I prefer the vocal cover, which sounds great with Petrov's vocals. "Some Velvet Morning" is quite an asskicking cover of the Lee Hazlewood original, dowsed in the huge fuzzy guitars and vocals which I'd argue trump the original, including the lines insertions which do justice to Nancy Sinatra's originals. A very successful experiment here. Nobody does Motörhead quite like Motörhead, but Entombed try damn hard with "One Track Mind"; I just don't care much for the vocals, a little too blunt, though the guitar riffs sound great with this tone.

Next up, a pretty dense and powerful chugging take on the Misfits "Hollywood Babylon", which crushes in the hands of the Swedes, given new life and an even wilder abandon that perhaps the old Static Age version (okay who am I kidding). Rory Erickson's "Night of the Vampire" is a decent cover, already having appeared on Entombed's split with the New Bomb Turks and then the 1997 compilation, as did the rendition of KISS's "God of Thunder", which I never much cared for when I first heard it. I was very surprised to find a treatment of Hüsker Dü's "Something I Learnt Today" here, but despite the added 'darkness' of the bands ripping, thick tone, it just doesn't compare...though it does offer further proof that these boys have some taste in who they choose to pay tribute. "21st Century Schizoid Man", on the other hand, sounds perfectly deviant in their care, a brutastic offering to the King Crimson original, heavy as fuck and probably something they've offered on their live bills more than once. The remainder of this disc includes the band's cool cover of Alice Cooper's "Black Juju" which they released as an EP in 1999, and a punk "Amazing Grace" which went straight through the noggin.

Disc 2 starts with the ripping cover of the Dwarves' "Satan", which appeared on the Wreckage EP, and then their very creative spin on the "Hellraiser" theme, which is taken from the excellent Hollowman EP back in '93. When, in an altered tone, the expression "Kick out the Jams Motherfucker" erupts, you know what is next, and Entombed have got themselves a pretty fun use of the MC5 classic. The cover of the Bad Brains "You't Juice" was another surprise, not that they are fans of the reggae-core legends but that they wouldn't pick something earlier that better fit the punk aesthetic. This version is honestly quite weak, losing all of what makes the original special, but it's kind of cool that it can be found at all. Venom's "Bursting Out" rages in the gruff Swedish tones, as L-G Petrov seems a natural replacement for Cronos' filthy vocal spew. Stiff Little Fingers' "State of Emergency" was already on the Full of Hell single and the Entombed compilation, but I hadn't heard their cover of Sabbath's "Under the Sun", which is pretty cruising, in particular the great bluesy lead licks.

We've got the quality cover of Unsane's "Vandal X" next, also from the Entombed compilation, and then Twisted Sister's "Tear it Loose" which the band previous released on the Wreckage EP, a fun if forgettable adaptation. The cover of Dead Horse's "Scottish Hell" is another surprise, a good band and good song, sounding fairly natural through Entombed. Unfortunately, most of the rest are covers we've already heard: Bob Dylan's "The Ballad of Hollis Brown" and Jerry Kids "Lost" from the Wreckage EP, and Captain Beyond's "Mesmerization Eclipse" which they released on the Black Juju EP. The cover of "Sentimental Funeral" from Black Juju is missing here, and the album closes with another rendition of "Amazing Grace" with different vocals...the 'mellow drunk' version, and once again skippable.

Sons of Satan Praise the Lord is pretty interesting due to the eclectic selection of songs included, but only about half the covers actually sound good enough that I'd ever want to listen to them. The biggest attractions are those I hadn't previously heard, in particular the songs taken from digipacks or overseas editions of albums that featured them as bonus content. Probably the best of the bunch are the covers of Venom, Dead Horse, Stillborn, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Dwarves, King Crimson, Lee Hazlewood, and Unsane, but this selection takes into account the fact I'm not a fan of some of the other bands' work. It's a decent idea for a release, considering how many covers Entombed had floating out there already, and other bands like Napalm Death, Overkill and Exhumed have released similar albums, though the 2 discs and 27 total tracks are a nice selling point.

Highlights: Bursting Out, Satan, Vandal X, Scottish Hell, Black Juju, Under the Sun, Albino Flogged in Black, 21st Century Schizoid Man, Some Velvet Morning

Verdict: Indifference [6/10]

No comments: