Almost every band has that album: you know, the critically and/or commercially reviled dud in an otherwise passable-to-radical back catalogue. Occasionally, a Decibel staffer or special guest will take to the Decibel site to bitch and moan at length as to why everybody’s full of shit and said dud is, in fact, The Shit. This time around, Greg Pratt defends Entombed's Same Difference.
So, in 1998 Entombed put out that album, after putting out those couple of other albums (one of which, Wolverine Blues, has aged well and is better than the lukewarm reaction hardcore death metallers gave it at the time; the second one, the one with the long name, well, who knows how it sounds? No one has listened to it in 15 years). By the time drummer Nicke Andersson left the good ship Entombed and they put out Same Difference (mainly remembered for non-death-metal logo and weird dog cover art), man, it was the final straw for a lot of us. And until that incredible first riff off of Uprising all those years later, we weren't paying attention, and Same Difference was the reason why. We all gave it a listen or two and that was about it, threw our arms in the air in defeat and went off in search of something more extreme. Now, I'm willing to bet you haven't spun this yet in calendar year 2016, and I'm here to say you should: it sounds way better than any of us remember it sounding.
I worship at the altar of the first two Entombed albums as much as anyone (and I do dig Wolverine Blues pretty hard, too), but if the idea of Entombed doing noise rock 'n' death 'n' roll (or something like that) doesn’t get you a bit interested, well… okay, I can understand that. Still. Stick with me here. Everyone always said this was a hard rock album, but it's not. It's a noise rock album. Played by Swedish death metal dudes. And how rad is that? Very rad.
Opener “Addiction King” sets the tone, and the tone is a tame one if you’re expecting pure Swedish death, or even a ragged take on death ‘n’ roll like Wolverine Blues was. It’s jarring, but the radness is in the restraint, and in the fact that this is Unsane filtered through, well, Wolverine Blues, which is a pretty rad equation, if you think about it. It’s just that it’s hard to get past the Entombed name being on here. But give them some credit: when a band says “screw our legacy, we’re doing something totally different,” it’s actually pretty badass.
And this is certainly doing something different: Second cut “The Supreme Good” has cool noise rock guitar and drum interplay that other bands would die for. Third song “Clauses” then starts off with slide guitar, before kicking in to a truly weird, jarring, dissonant mid-tempo noise rocker. And believe it or not, these are good things in Entombed's hands.
Then there’s “Kick in the Head,” a song with so much swagger and groove I swear I could shake my booty to it, if death metal fans ever shook their booties, WHICH WE DON’T OF COURSE. But this is a cool song, arguably one of the coolest in Entombed’s catalogue.
“What You Need” finds the band speeding up to Wolverine tempos, seven songs in. It works, and provides a welcome boost of speed and energy at this point in the album. It doesn't have the teeth that the band's classic material has, but it gets the job done. And what about “High Waters”? I don’t want to keep mentioning Unsane here, but this is such a cool slow-burning noise-rocker that it really sounds like Unsane and Unsane only, and it’s awesome. “20/20 Vision” picks up the pace but it’s more rock ‘n’ roll than it is death ‘n’ roll, and it may not have much bite, but it’s fun, something Entombed actually do better than most of their peers. “Smart Aleck” features the least Entombed chorus of all time, but damned if it’s not a catchy one.
I swear this album could be released today with Unsane’s logo on it and we’d all be stroking off over it; the fact that it’s got the Entombed logo (uh… the Entombed name, anyway) on it only makes it that much cooler; it also makes it that much harder to accept. But, accept this: Entombed made a strange, restrained noise-rock album in 1998. The cover was insane and the songs hard to love, but there’s a charm in the attitude behind it all, and it’s just one more strange piece of the bizarre puzzle that is this lovable band’s history.
A band’s gotta try something different now and again, and I, for one, am glad that Entombed channeled their inner noise-rockers, which no one knew they even had, on Same Difference. The results were totally one of a kind, awesomely jarring, and completely badass.