On May 17, 2019, Swedish death metal legends Entombed release Clandestine Live, a full live album recorded in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the original album. (Fans can find physical copies, merch and bundles on the band’s official webshop.) Back in 1991, Clandestine inspired a whole genre of Swedish extreme metal bands so we spoke to founding members and guitarists Alex Hellid and Uffe Cederlund about the album, the Swedish scene, and much more.
How did it feel to be celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Clandestine? Uffe Cederlund: I was not aware of it, Alex told me that when we did the Malmö show, I’m not sure if he planned it or if it was luck. It feels strange that it’s so long ago, sometimes it feels like yesterday and other days like it was someone else, not me being a part of that album or time.
Alex Hellid: Pure luck that the show ended up being on the exact same date. We could not have planned it that way even if we wanted to as the date got moved around due to all moving parts and availabilities so if we would have aim directly for it would most likely have had to move as that was what happened It was meant to be, obviously. Great when things like that happen. Agree with Uffe how it feels like yesterday and at the same time in a galaxy far far away... pretty cool how the mind works. Scary how Uffe knew the songs down to the individual plectrum stroke even for things he only did once on the fly in 1991. Not human, obviously.
What do you remember about recording the album? Any good stories? Uffe: We didn’t have a singer, but it was like: that’s no problem, let’s record an album anyway, I was also surprised that Dig from Earache said yes when we asked if it was ok to record another album, [laughs]. I don’t remember much, everything was done so fast. The mix was interesting, we did not know much, we did the fade outs and ups when we mixed the album, like the end of “Crawl”... fade down ...and then into “Severe Burns.”
We had to unplug stuff, change effect-racks for the next song, change levels, etc. We were 4 people doing it in real time, maybe that was normal back then? if we would have known about mastering techniques, they could have done it (fades and edits) for us in the mastering. But that’s what I like about this time. We had something planned and made sure it happened.
Alex: Exactly. Really cool times and memories like how eight hands were needed to pull off a mix and if one was picking a nose at the wrong time we just had to start over. Beautiful. Breaking down the recording and mixing would be an interesting little documentary in itself. I love to see stuff like that myself from just about any recording. Cannot get enough of it.
Entombed’s album Clandestine was released on November 12, 1991, via Earache / Relativity.
How does it feel listening back to the album and is there anything you would change? Uffe: It used to be my least favourite Entombed album but now it has turned to being my favourite, [laughs]. I’m laughing when I hear it, I wonder how I could play on it, it feels so distant and that’s why I’m interested in it. It’s the only Entombed album that is a challenge for me. People might think that you can play what you are supposed to play on it but it is impossible to do it. It’s hard to explain. I’m still trying to work out different ways to play the guitar details that I’m supposed to play, [laughs]. No one can hear it anyway.
Alex: We did film some as we were showing Thomas von Wachenfeldt the riff so he could have something to start orchestrating from when he did the classical arrangements. That’s when it became really apparent that what may sound like a long wall, the E (C really since we are a few steps down here) on the guitar most likely have a whole lot more going on for both the left and the right hand and as I said before it’s awesome to see Uffe remember the tiniest right-hand rhythm pattern. I have a hard time remembering my age after 15.
Uffe: A few years ago I would have liked to re-record the album or let L-G sing on it, but today? It would be interesting to record it again but I know it’s a crazy idea, I think the original is cool.
Alex: For educational reasons alone it should be done, so we can film it. There is a lot there to excavate. As I said I love the nerdy behind the scenes stuff. Yes, of course, it would be crazy but then again when did we ever do anything sane.
Here’s a clip of Entombed performing “Sinner’s Bleed” from Clandestine - Live:
The Swedish metal scene was at its peak then, what do you remember about that era? Uffe: I wasn’t easy, [laughs]. I was not really interested, to be honest, we came from something else, something much more private, not what was going on in Sweden at the time. There were so many bands everywhere, I lost it. I remember we did a tour in Sweden, probably around 20 shows, it might sound like it was great but there were only 30 people attending at some of them. We got a lot of attention in media, sometimes it was good but it was also not, we were young and said yes to everything. Many late nights with alcohol, I was 20 years old, I had no fucking clue about anything except that I enjoyed being drunk and listening to melancholic rock music.
Alex: Struggle. It was a constant roller-coaster from what I remember. We never really had a plan for more than five minutes ahead. It also felt like there was more than likely a lot of frustration all around.
Tape-trading, fanzines, word-of-mouth - all important tools of that era. Do you think the music industry has changed for better or for worse since then? Uffe: That scene was something else, I enjoyed that time a lot, it was before everything. Of course, I think that putting an album out on Earache Records was great. To this day I’m so happy about that but I lost touch with what I truly liked about the scene, it was more private, but I guess it was impossible to stay or keep it like it was before. When looking back maybe I would have made other choices, maybe it was impossible. I can understand the “Anti” thing in the early black metal scene, they tried to stay in a more private scene but that scene was not so nice. I thought death metal was not for everyone, that’s a weird attitude, I know but I enjoyed it that way more.
Alex: Things always get better. Doesn’t mean we can’t all feel nostalgic about childhood memories. I’m happy and amazed about the fact that things we enjoyed back then keep being rediscovered and enjoyed just as we did with whatever we found. The anticipation of waiting for that Thy Kingdom Come demo tape to arrive, running around looking for records making mix-tapes are of course dopamine kicks we all have to get in other ways now and kids still get the same kicks but in other ways these days of course. I still get just as happy seeing any kind of artwork from demos, records patches and pins to this day... which is a blessing.
You can pre-order your copy of Clandestine - Live from Threeman Recordings here.
If you could go back to that era and give the Entombed of then some advice, what would it be? Uffe: I sometimes think of this but I have to say: Just do exactly what you’re doing [laughs]. I could say things like: Drink the beer after the show or go to bed early. We had a pretty cool time.
Alex: Spend a little bit of time making sure the things that have nothing to do with music are sorted out, really basic stuff that anybody can figure out, to do with things like trademarking names etc… really stuff that anybody taking the kids on to work with them should have asked for before getting to the next question. Easy stuff, with experience, expensive to do down the line… So, the advice would be, “Get a lawyer, and no it is not expensive, to sort out the basics of partnerships etc. A couple of hours and it’s done...and more time can be spent on creating...” Anybody that works with anybody should ask the question. You can tell I’ve been dealing with this boring bit for a while now, eh? At least it’s educating.
What do you remember about the touring cycle for that album? Any good or bad shows that stick out? Uffe: We did our first American tour in ‘91 (with Morbid Angel and Unleashed), the album came out when we came home, we did the tour in Sweden that ended up with a couple of more shows with Morbid Angel and Unleashed, the last gig was in Stockholm but Morbid Angel had to cancel that show, their equipment truck crashed on the way to the show, I think that show could have been “The Peak” but it left people in a weird vibe.
There was another show a couple of months later with Carcass headlining (with us and lots of other bands on the bill. Maybe I remember wrong but I think Tiamat, Desultory, At The Gates, Grave, Dismember also played that show). I liked the Earache tour we did, Gods of Grind. Carcass, Entombed, Cathedral and Confessor. It was lots of fun. I really enjoyed that one. Cathedral were cool. I would like to do that tour again but now. Oh, We asked L-G to come back in the band just before the Gods of Grind tour. After that tour we did another American tour, we also got an American manager. [laughs].
Here’s Entombed performing on the “Gods of Grind Tour” in London in 1992:
Alex: Uffe summed it up really well. Brought me back there. With the live album coming out it would be a good time to dig out some photos from that time and do a little storytelling around it. That’s the plan we have for the web. Hopefully, we get around to doing a bit of writing... with interviews like this starting the process half the job is done really. The other day I saw some clips on YouTube from our second or third time in Montreal, Canada, as a three-piece (!). Remember the show like yesterday, I think.
The first time we played there we played as a four-piece with Uffe singing because Johnny only joined the last part of the tour. The second time our van was stolen the day before hitting Canada. The thief got two Larses (bass and voice) passports as a bonus. No problem me, Nike and Uffe jumped in the Ryder truck with Matt our stage manager and did the Canadian dates. First show was Toronto at The Opera House and that went pretty well. Leif Cuzner came over by bus (three days) from Vancouver to hang with us which was awesome, had not seen him since he moved back to Canada with his family in 1988/89.
Anyway, Uffe and NIcke did a great job handling both vox an drums (I think they split it up a bit between them now that I think about it, the first night). Really cool show from what I remember. The weird ones are special. After the show Nicke and Uffe reasoned that whiskey was really good for the throat. The show in Montreal ended up being instruMental and the power kept dropping out too… so, we almost got saved by that a couple of times but it came back on every time and the crowd was great! The track on YouTube is about double speed. Awesome spirit and the shows went on no matter what. If one or two of us made it to the show there was a show.
When people talk about the classics of the extreme metal genre, that album is always somewhere in the list. How does it feel knowing you recorded an album that has not only stood the test of time but is also held as one of the important records of that era? Uffe: I’m happy, of course. I used to wonder why and how people could like it when I lost touch with it but I can remember that I knew the album was weird in a way weird albums are cool. It’s hard to put a finger on it, the album sounds weird, I used to hate the sound on it, but I like albums that are “out there,” are pushing things, losing touch, when people are searching for something, I don’t remember if we thought that we found it.
I think the album is challenging something, still today. I can’t put a finger on it, Clandestine will or cannot ever be finished, there’s always something to work on, back then we had two weeks in the studio to try to put it on tapes, I guess it’s the unfinished Entombed album or maybe it’s the only album that was truly done. I’m happy that people like it. I can understand it. Huh?
Alex: Ditto. Feels fantastic. I’m still amazed every day that people enjoy what we do. Take nothing for granted still so always cool to hear folks dig the spirit of this album to this day. One of the reasons I thought the idea of making the classical arrangements of the album was to have an excuse to show people what is really going on on this album.
Check out this awesome video clip of Entombed performing tracks from Clandestine on Swedish TV in 1991:
What is your favourite Entombed story from that period? Uffe: There are so many of course. It was a fun time but also really hard, things could have been worse, We had a party with some passengers on the flight home after the second American tour, I remember it felt really nice flying home, we all had a nice time on the flight, we were talking with other passengers about everything. It was a nice buzz. There was so much to take in after a tour like that, I remember that flight because all five of us was hanging out and we had a nice time. It felt like we were a band and friends.
Alex: Not sure about favourite but this is a “hard” one to forget... on our second American tour we played with Exhorder. In the LA area their drummer put a GIANT turd on a plate with covered one of them silver metal food covers from like fancy restaurants in the middle of the catering/dinner buffet table. When the promoter’s wife came to check on the food levels all hell broke loose and Exhorder found themselves with a night off the next night in LA at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go… (same promoter and understandably very unhappy wife).
So, in 1996, when we sat around coming up with a name for our own label name Nicke drew a little logo for Turd-On-A-Plate Records but the name from the dice game (Threeman) we played with Evan from Confessor on the “Gods Of Grind Tour” won out in the end.
If you could sum up that era for Entombed what would you say? Uffe: We changed a lot as a band when Clandestine came out, it was like we left death metal behind. We kept on saying we were death metal but I think it was during the second American tour we left “metal” and turned more into the death ‘n’ roll (people called it that), we played new songs like “Hollow Man” and “Demon” on soundchecks, Kevin Sharp gave me an advance tape with Helmet’s new album. Shit, there was so much going on at that time. Two years was a lifetime. We toured a lot. It was hard. Boring. But looking back I see things I enjoy.
Alex: Energy. Pure road life bubble energy. Things happen when people go out on these long tours with 18-hour drives without showers in all kinds of vehicles meeting all kinds of people all over the place. It is a trip. It is priceless experience and education... for the survivors. We survived found new energy and kept moving.