Unleashed – “Dawn Of The Nine” (Nuclear Blast Records)
26 years on, 12 albums in all and Sweden’s Unleashed continue to battle on with no signs of compromise whatsoever in their warrior’s code! Formed by bassist / vocalist Johnny Hedlund, whose interest in Norse mythology and traditions goes well beyond image into his very lifestyle so much so that he is even writing his own book – The World Of Odalheim – Unleashed are one of the founders of the Swedish Death Metal scene and self appointed guardians of Viking Metal in general. Proud chiefs indeed, but Unleashed can back it up with both their savage music and well thought out lyrics that combine the wisdom of their forefathers, along with their strength and determination. For Unleashed their music is a way of life, a hammer of justice, in a future that they will determine and create. Drawing from old school death metal bands like Death and Autopsy, which remain at the core of Unleashed’s sound, over the years Johnny and the boys have developed their own sound within this style and actually developed it, rather than pandering to the winds of change. As such they fly in the face of most conventional death metal bands, and certainly any of the popular styles of melodic death and death n roll more commonly associated with Sweden! Built from the start to destroy live, that is certainly where I’d place the material of Unleashed where the very tempo and arrangements of their albums are reflective of their live show. Even more so, the moods of the songs reach out brilliantly as they would to a live audience – you can visualize the massive frame of Hedlund along with his scything bass flailing his sweaty hair violently while growling menacingly into the mike on songs like ‘Let The Hammer Fly’, ‘Defenders Of Midgard’ and ‘They Came To Die’. Although able to deliver devastating brutality, Unleashed’s skill also lies in slower and more darker passages that evoke huge amounts of atmosphere and add to the Norse passion inherent in Hedlund’s lyrics. The twin guitars of Tomas Måsgard and Fredrik Folkare work slickly off one another, effortlessly churning out epic Norse riffs alongside fiery battlefield solos and darker, sombre pieces reflective of loss or death. Recorded and produced in Folkare’s own Chrome Studios, the superb sounds adds the perfect finishing touch making “Dawn Of The Nine” another victory in the bag for Johnny Hedlund’s lifelong battle for death or glory!