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Sentenced - "Buried Alive" (2-CD Set)

Sentenced - "Buried Alive" 2-CD Set cover image

"Buried Alive" track listing:

DISC ONE:
1. Funeral Intro
2. Where Waters Fall Frozen
3. May Today Become the Day
4. Neverlasting
5. Bleed
6. Rain Comes Falling Down
7. Ever-Frost
8. Sun Won’t Shine
9. Dead Moon Rising
10. Despair-Ridden Hearts
11. Broken
12. The Suicider / Excuse Me While I Kill Myself

DISC TWO:
1. The War Ain’t Over
2. Nepenthe
3. Northern Lights
4. The Way I Wanna Go
5. Dance on the Graves (Lil' Siztah)
6. Noose
7. Aika Multa Musitot (Everything Is Nothing)
8. Farewell
10. Drown Together
11. Cross My Heart and Hope To Die
12. Brief is the Light
13. Vengeance is Mine
14. End of the Road

Reviewed by on June 23, 2009

"This 'funeral' displayed the musical evolution of Sentenced, from its early death-metal years to its post-1996 melodeath/goth-metal era."

Sentenced made its debut in 1991 with "Shadows of the Past." A number of member changes solidified the lineup consisting of Miika Tenkula (lead guitar), Sami Lopakka (guitar), Vesa Ranta (drums), Sami Kukkohovi (bass) and Ville Laihiala (vocals), with the latter two replacing original singer/bassist Taneli Jarva in 1996. 2002’s "The Cold White Light" garnered the band its first gold album. In early 2005, Lopakka officially announced the band’s demise, but not before releasing one last studio album and playing a number of farewell shows. Sentenced’s suicide note, "The Funeral Album," topped Finnish charts and earned the band its second gold record and three awards at 2006’s Finnish Metal Expo. After the breakup, Laihiala continued his musical career as the singer for Poisonblack. Unfortunately, any possibilities of a future reunion were crushed when founding member Tenkula passed away in early 2009.

Although Sentenced is, in a sense, dead, the band was immortalized by the release of its first – and most likely its last – official live recording, "Buried Alive," which is available in both double-disc CD or DVD sets. The final show was filmed at Club Teatria in the their hometown of Oulu, Finland on October 1st, 2005 by Klaffi Productions, who are credited for their work on the "Ever-Frost" and "Despair-Ridden Hearts" videos. This “funeral” displayed the musical evolution of Sentenced, from its early death-metal years with Jarva to its post-1996 melodeath/goth-metal era with Laihiala.

Adorned with lifeless branches, the stage set-up was dark and bleak, an atmosphere further established with the solemn “Funeral Intro (Adagio in G Minor),” during which the band walked on stage carrying a coffin. In contrast, the black-metal-esque “Where the Waters Fall Frozen” was heavy and lively. Totaling to merely three minutes long, the two instrumentals effectively built up a ton of energy in the crowd, as can be observed by the cheers and applause and fists pumping in the air nonstop throughout the entire show. The momentum carried on to the next song, "May Today Become the Day." Standing at what seemed to be an imposing 10 feet tall, Laihiala resembled a living Nathan Explosion as he angrily announced the suicide with the lyrics, “May today become the day as I plunge into the grave.” [On a side note: If you are looking for a new drinking game, I suggest taking a shot whenever “Hey!” was chanted. You will hit the floor before this track is over.]

The band continued to roll out songs from its 16-year history, but, for whatever reason, omitting the debut album. "Buried Alive" showed how Sentenced has progressed over the years, yet still retaining its signature sound. Tenkula and Lopakka delivered continuous walls of heavy, crushing riffs underneath a layer of ethereal melody in some of their mosh-pit-friendly songs, while also being to pull off some sharp, piercing guitar solos. Laihiala’s sorrowful, mournful wails, combined with sweeping riffs and Tenkula's non-showy solos, on the melancholic “Rain Comes Falling Down” brought chills down my spine. One of my favourite Sentenced songs, "Broken," was covered by Gothenburg-metal pioneers, Dark Tranquillity, for a Century Media compilation in 2008. The concert terminated with what Laihiala emotionally announced as one of the last songs the band wrote, and will ever write: "End of the Road."

Stepping onstage to sounds of gun shots and pulsating guitars, former member Taneli Jarva returned to perform five songs from his period: “The War Ain’t Over,” “Nepenthe,” “Northern Lights,” “The Way I Wanna Go” and “Dance on the Graves.” Jarva possessed distinctive deep, guttural death-metal growls, with an evil undertone, as words were violently vomited, suiting Sentenced heavier, deathlier – albeit still melodic – songs. Unlike Laihiala, Jarva’s words were gruffly incoherent. Amid the seizure-inducing flashes of the strobe lights and pyrotechnics, the volume of the audience applause proved Jarva was still a prominent member of the band, not just – to quote an album – a shadow of the past.

The show spanned two CDs or one DVD, with the second DVD of the set containing extra material, including a photo gallery, music videos, behind-the-scenes, signing sessions and interviews with Jarva, Lopakka and Laihiala. The show was very well-produced with minimal background noise and crystal-clear sound.

Overall, the entire concert was excellent, with a great selection of songs that truly represented all sides of Sentenced. A major downside was that the show can be very depressing. "Buried Alive" illustrated Sentenced's versatility when it comes to writing songs with negative emotions. The majority of Sentenced’s pessimistic lyrics dealt with hopelessness, heartache, death and suicide. In fact, critics often condemned the group for its obsession with death, as if a band under the moniker “Sentenced” should instead sing about sunshine, lollipops and rainbows.

Highs: Heavy and dark, yet ethereal and melodic. Great production and sound quality.

Lows: It can be pretty depressing.

Bottom line: "Buried Alive" is perfect for Sentenced fans who never got the chance to see the band live before they broke up.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)