As Long as Entombed AD Is Here, Swedish Death Metal Will Never Die
"If you’re into music and metal, you just do it!"
It’s negative six degrees in Stockholm, and Lars-Göran Petrov has just come in from the cold. “I was just doing some grocery shopping,” he says with a laugh. “You know, the mortal stuff!” As the longtime vocalist for Swedish death metal masters Entombed, Petrov has become accustomed to the daily balance between immortal musical feats—see Entombed’s 1990 debut Left Hand Path, death n’ roll masterpiece Wolverine Blues, and late ’90s classic To Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak The Truth—and the malfunctioning grind of daily life. As we speak, he tells us his CD player is broken, his computer is “fucked,” and he doesn’t have wi-fi in his apartment. If that sounds like a laundry list of typical first-world inconveniences, Petrov certainly won’t try to convince you otherwise. After all, things could be worse: He could still be waiting for his former bandmate and guitarist, Alex Hellid, to write another Entombed album. It’s been nearly a decade since their last one came out, and six years passed before anyone did anything about it. Tired of sitting on his hands, Petrov assembled Entombed A.D.—thus named for legal reasons—with then-Entombed members Olle Dahlstedt and Nico Elgstrand alongside former Entombed guitarist Victor Brandt.
In 2014, the newly christened group emerged with Back To The Front, a record that captured the ferocious roar and signature Boss HM-2 guitar rumble that made Entombed the godfathers of Swedish death metal. Less than two years later, Entombed A.D. have returned with Dead Dawn. “It didn’t take six years,” Petrov chuckles knowingly. “But we don’t want drama. In the end, people just want music.”
Noisey: How did you decide on the title Dead Dawn?
L-G Petrov: When you wake up and don’t have a plan, it’s gonna be a dead dawn. Even if you have a plan when you wake up, you don’t know what’s gonna happen that day. For us, we were productive and we had discipline. Just a short while after the last album, we decided to do new music straight away because we knew it would take time. Here we are 15, 18 months later, and the new album is almost out. So it’s a little bit about that. Don’t wait around, you know? If you have the music in your head, be productive and maximize your time. You can accomplish a lot of things.
Do you think that drive is a result of the six years in which nothing was happening with Entombed? Serpents Saints came out almost ten years ago now…
Yeah, it’s ridiculous. We toured when it came out, but then it came to the point where we had to make another album because that’s what people want. Somebody was taking care of things, but nothing ever happened. Time just went on and on and on. When we finally decided to make an album, some of us did it and somebody didn’t. [Laughs] And then he started crying about it, but we don’t have time for that. This is what we do. This is what bands do—make an album, go on tour, and the cycle repeats itself. If you want to do something else, don’t interfere. If you’re not professional enough to handle both things, then just step aside and let the people who live this life continue with it. So that’s what basically happened with all this drama.
What do you think the problem is on Alex’s end? Does he have writer’s block? Is he just not interested anymore?
I have no idea. You can ask him—I don’t know what the man is doing right now. My attitude is, if you want to quit, that’s okay. But don’t come crying about it a couple of months later. Right now, between the members and management and the record label, we have daily communications. Obviously, things are happening. We have a second—or eleventh—album out, depending how you think of it. We’re doing the things we’re supposed to be doing. [Laughs] It’s the only thing we know how to do, basically. So we just go for it. We’re productive; we’re professional. We just lost an appendix, so to speak. [Laughs]
Do you think Alex will record an Entombed album with other musicians and try to compete with Entombed A.D. somehow?
I have no idea. I have not talked to him. I’m in the music and metal business. We put out records. [Laughs] So we choose to put it aside and not think about it. It’s just an extra burden.
Dead Dawn is the second album under the Entombed A.D. name. Does the band still feel like a continuation of Entombed, or do you think of it as a separate entity at this point?
We are Entombed. We just added the “A.D.” to continue. It’s the same band, so we don’t see a reason to make a different name. The other guys—Nico, Olle, Victor—they have been around for ten, twelve years. So it is Entombed. And I still own the name Entombed to this day, but not to confuse people any further we decided to put out this album as Entombed A.D. as well. Like I said, it’s either the second or eleventh album. I don’t want to trash-talk anyone, but we’ve come up with more stuff these past three years than we did in the six or seven years after Serpents Saints.
Where are you coming from lyrically on Dead Dawn?
I actually didn’t do much lyrically. I’m not a lyrical person myself. I haven’t read a whole book in all my life. [Laughs] I just can’t translate words into fantasy. I’d rather put on the movie version. The other guys in the band are very productive with that stuff, but everyone has their role. I do most of the interviews, for example. I think I’m good at that. If someone else is good at lyrics or music, they do that. I have a couple of riffs on the album, but Nico and Victor are the riffing machines. We put it all in a blender and it results in an album. But I’d say it’s a little more pessimistic of an album, a little more sinister. Some songs, I don’t have a clue what they’re about.
Like which ones?
“Down To Ride To Mars.” I haven’t a clue what it means. But it feels good to sing—that’s what’s important. And when I study the lyrics for future performances, I might come up with an idea for myself, you know?
Entombed are often viewed as the godfathers of Swedish death metal. Do you feel responsible for the beginnings of a musical tradition?
At the time, we were just kids playing death metal. Sort of like what we’re doing now, but we’re a little bit older. [Laughs] You felt really good when you were holding your first vinyl in your hand. As time went on, it developed into this thing that people liked. People come up to you and say “legend,” and that’s great. I don’t feel like a legend, but I always go home with a smile after. We’ve been doing this for all these years, but we consider ourselves normal headbangers just like anybody else.
When you go into town, you meet the Grave guys, the Unleashed guys, you drink beer—and it was the same 15 or 20 years ago. So time stands still.
Are you surprised this music has lasted so long?
At least here in Sweden, there’s been this new generation of kids liking it. The parents are passing on their musical influences and traditions to their kids, and the kids start making bands themselves and try to do what we did. That’s really great. Here in Sweden, you have good opportunities with rehearsal rooms and many shows you can go to with your parents if you are underage. So we’ve been managing to keep it alive, and it’s really great. People ask, “What do you think about all these copycats?” But I don’t see it that way. Someday someone else is going to have to carry the flag for death metal. Kids give me demo CDs all the time on tour. My CD player here at home is broken, but I listen to them on the bus. The new generation needs encouragement to do their thing. And also you can steal riffs! [Laughs]
On the Entombed A.D. Facebook page, there’s a photo of you guys signing autographs for two little girls—they look like they couldn’t be more than seven or eight years old. It must be strange to see kids that young at a death metal show…
Yeah, that was in Spain! It’s always great to see these little kids. [Laughs] I bet they have no clue who you are or what you’re doing, but they’re still there because their parents are trying to encourage them to listen to this music. It’s a good start. We are kids ourselves in a way, and some of us have kids of our own. But that was a great moment.
You guys were on the Metal Alliance tour last summer with Deicide and Hate Eternal and then were mysteriously “pulled off” the tour halfway through. What happened?
It was a great tour—we made it about halfway through—but somehow it disintegrated. Some bands chose to continue, but not under the Metal Alliance name. We came to the conclusion that we couldn’t continue, so we had some beers at the airport and flew back the next day. We actually started working on the new album straight away, so out of bad things come good things in the end. Shit is gonna happen now and then, so you gotta try and deal with it with a happy face. We are going to come back to the States in April with Amon Amarth, and this will be even better.
Why do you think the tour disintegrated?
I have no idea. Maybe they expected more people. There was people there—we had great shows—but maybe it didn’t work in the end. But I don’t know. I have not dwelled upon it. [Laughs]
You’ve been busy lately. Besides recording two Entombed A.D. records in as many years, you and Victor also did a Firespawn album last year with dudes from Unleashed and Necrophobic. To what do you attribute the sudden burst of creative energy?
When you get out of this cage we’ve been in for six years, you find yourself. What if we were this productive in the years between Serpent Saints and Back To The Front? Now we don’t have to wait for anybody. We can do things professionally and fast by maximizing our time. It doesn’t have to be that complicated. If you’re into music and metal, you just do it.
Catch Entombed AD on the Jomsviking North America tour with Amon Amarth and Exmortus later this year:
4/7 San Diego, CA - House of Blues
4/8 Phoenix, AZ - The Pressroom
4/9 El Paso, TX - Tricky Falls
4/10 Albuquerque, NM - Sunshine Theater
4/12 Dallas, TX - House of Blues
4/13 San Antonio, TX - The Aztec Theater
4/15 Houston, TX - House of Blues
4/16 New Orleans, LA - House of Blues
4/17 Atlanta, GA - Tabernacle
4/18 Tampa, FL - The Ritz
4/20 Charlotte, NC - The Fillmore
4/21 Silver Spring, MD - The Fillmore
4/22 New York, NY - PlayStation Theatre
4/23 Boston, MA - House of Blues
4/25 Rochester, NY - Water Street Music Hall
4/26 Burlington, VT - Higher Ground
4/28 Quebec City, QC - Imperial
4/29 Montreal, QC - Metropolis
4/30 Toronto, ON - The Danforth
5/1 Cleveland, OH - House of Blues
5/2 Detroit, MI - St. Andrews
5/4 St. Louis, MO - The Pageant
5/5 Chicago, IL - The Riviera Theatre
5/6 Lawrence, KS - The Granada Theater
5/7 Denver, CO - The Ogden Theater
5/9 Omaha, NE - Sokol Auditorium
5/10 Minneapolis, MN - Varsity Theater
5/12 Winnipeg, MB - The Garrick
5/13 Saskatoon, SK - O'Brian's Event Centre
5/14 Calgary, AB - MacEwan Ballroom
5/16 Vancouver,BC - The Commodore
5/17 Seattle, WA - Showbox Market
5/18 Portland, OR - Roseland Theater
5/20 San Francisco, CA - The Warfield
5/21 Los Angeles, CA - The Wiltern Theater
J. Bennett is a big proponent of just doing it.