Seemingly held to merely discussing an upcoming album release or tour, music journalists are generally forced to fit as much in as possible in a fifteen or twenty-minute time frame. It is indeed a rare opportunity for an interviewer to not have to worry about or adhere to short time frames in order to capture and faithfully represent musicians and their art. On such a rare occasion, time restrictions are irrelevant, and an interview becomes an incredible chat and insight into the innermost workings of a person’s mind, their history, future and everything in between.
I had the absolute distinct honour of chatting to Alex Hellid, a founding member of death metal elite, Entombed, for an hour and a half. It was one of the best and most comprehensive interviews I have done in my career as a heavy music journalist.
Unbound by time, Alex opened up on the unfortunate split and demise of Entombed and the intricacies surrounding the lengthy legal battle and use of the name Entombed as a brand. From the fledgling initial incarnation in 1987, then known as Nihilist to changing their name in 1989/90 to Entombed with the release of their debut album Left Hand Path and thus creating an instantly recognisable name and sound in the band that we still hear and know to this day.
So the first question put to Alex was that Entombed were placed into an indefinite hiatus due to ongoing legal issues surrounding both current and former members. The lives of all associated with Entombed became very messy when it seemed that things were starting to become more fruitful once again for them.
Alex begins, “…it seems like there always one mess. As soon as something good happens then the valley comes along afterwards, but it just brings more spice to our lives and our story. It has definitely not been a streamlined journey this band. We started very young and we’ve been through ups and downs. But this mess that you’re referring to, with our last lineup changes and the split! Hopefully, it will become at least a paragraph or two in some biography down the line and a lesson in what happens when you don’t have all your ducks in a row when it comes to registering trademarks.”
Continuing Hellid expands, “We’ve had a couple of different managements over the years… and from 2001 onwards we stopped working with our last proper management company, (Sanctuary) and for a while I was handling everything when it came to that, it’s always kind of been me dealing with management for some reason, I’ve been the one on the phone to managers, the others have too, but I was the one with the fax machine when we started out, so things came through to me…on 9/11 when we stopped working with Sanctuary, I wasn’t going to do it for that long but all of a sudden it had been twelve years of me trying to deal with too much both being on stage and off stage and I don’t mind the business side and that’s probably a problem the business side of things takes a lot of time.” Further on during the full podcast, Alex delves deeper into the beginning of Entombed’s turmoils and the final outcome resulting in what would be considered irreconcilable differences between himself and those band members who parted ways with both himself and the two remaining original members of the band Nicke and Uffe and what they were going to do move forward with the band and brand Entombed.
Entombed were, and still are, an important and defining band who have a sound and style. Throughout their entire career, it is abundantly obvious that they were never a band that wanted to make the same album twice. From Left Hand Path, to Wolverine Blues to Clandestine and absolutely no forgetting To Ride, Shoot Straight And Speak The Truth (which is still one of my favourite metal albums of all time). Though not abundantly obvious on their first three albums Entombeds sound and style did minutely and progressively shift and change to a degree. But not til ‘97’s death n’ roll masterpiece of To Ride…did this become truly noticeable. Was it always a conscious effort to instigate noticeable and significant musical changes to the band or was it that the band just progressively grew, were listening to different things, how did the evolution of Entombed come to be?
Alex responds, “The second one definitely. We never really started a death metal band…. The first album came out and we happened to sound like that. The first album is mainly made up of the demo’s that we had recorded in the years or so leading up to it.”
On their fledgling sound and influences that gave birth to Entombed, Alex states that for the first album, “We came out of this mix of hard rock, metal and hardcore skate stuff like Suicidal Tendencies, The Stupids and GBH and stuff like that. Then for the second album sounded the way it did because we did a show with Atheist and we were blown away, so that was a big influence on us trying to become technical. Each album was definitely a reaction to the one before and as you say they are a little bit different.”
Which leads us into Clandestine and further. Covering the rebirth and now invigorated Alex, Nicke and Uffe, rounded out with new members Robert on vocals and Edvin on bass, the discussion as heard on the full podcast interview is an in-depth and honest autobiographical account of Entombed’s entire history and the upcoming release of their brand new live album Live Clandestine (check out the HEAVY album review here) which as a full package features an orchestral backing with the band.
Live Clandestine is available here: http://smarturl.it/TRE032PRESS
RELEASE DATE: 2019-05-17