At the turn of the century, Entombed started to perhaps re-think their decision to take their music so deep into rock territory, and slowly began their descent back to hell through great releases like Uprising, Morning Star and Inferno. With the When in Sodom EP, a sort of teaser for the following year's new album Serpent Saints, the circle has been completed, with the addition of a campy, occult atmosphere that makes it all the more fun. Yes, When in Sodom is the Entombed you know and love from the early 90s, although moored down in a mellow atmosphere which does not at all displease me. "When in Sodom" itself will appear again on the Serpent Saints album in 2007, but the EP is still worth having because of the four additional tracks unique to it, and they are all extremely good.
First, "When in Sodom" opens with a kickass sample about Satan, imposed over the noise of a haunting atmosphere and female orgasm, before Entombed roll out a carnal, chugging tone which fits fluidly below Petrov's excellent lyrics, very campy and a hell of a lot of fun. When the tempo picks up, the band continues to rock, grinding out wicked melodies and barely contained rage, before the choir arrives to herald the chorus. The song is simply awesome, and though it should please fans of the first two albums, its somber and bitter flavor, and crisp but deep, rocking tone does not ignore all of the work the band has done in the interim. But while this makes for a fantastic warmup, it is "Carnage" which seals the deal, a plucky energetic tune with some real momentum, pure classic Entombed riffs over solid drums. I really like the reverb the band is using here in the drums and vocals, it gives the track a very distant flavor and staying power, and the pure viral death metal breakout later in the track is the perfect chance to celebrate the old Swedish band you love so much by ripping out your heart and then dancing on it.
"Thou Shalt Kill" lurches about like a drugged murderer with a meat cleaver in hand, his every step seeming possessed as if by the devil, and the band manages to alternate a morbid acoustic rhythm with bluesy, simple leads with a hammering, demented chug riff for a pretty powerful effect, again breaking out the stops for some old school death. "Heresy" plays like an ominous warning, darkly curving guitar lines that wander beneath some guitar ambiance before a crashing groove breaks out, trampling your spirit in ill intentions. This is one of the band's best groove-outs since "Demon" on the Wolverine Blues album. "Amen" is a lot different than the rest of the EP, a drugged out, morbid tune that consists of plucking acoustics and deep, throbbing bass, like a 70s horror score meets Pantera's cover of "Planet Caravan", while Petrov performs some distorted, quirky narrative poetry above it. Though clearly a departure from the metal of the other four tracks, it still seems to fit rather well, and makes for a nice closure.
When in Sodom is simply the best of Entombed's shorter releases, even better than Hollowman from 13 years ago. The songs are all straight from the gut, and the new direction certainly paints a colorful, creepy pallette for the forthcoming full length to follow through (which it does). At first I didn't quite catch on to all the charms of the EP, but it has since grown on me a great deal, and now I'd have to say it's one of the more essential offerings in the latter half of the band's discography, even with the one redundant tracks.
Verdict: Win [8/10] (discredit everything you see)