Unleashed
The Hunt For White Christ

Cripes- I have not reviewed an Unleashed album since 2006s Midvinterblot, and frankly due to a really awkward interview with founder Jonny Hedlund after I ripped 2002s Hells Unleashed, haven’t really given the band too much attention, despite an apparent solid run of albums since then in Hammer Battalion, As Yggdrasil Trembles, Odalheim, Dawn of the Nine.

So, I decided to check out the band’s 13th conceptual album (that continues an over aching story from the prior 3 albums- i.e Odalheim had a song called “White Christ”), from late last year, just to see if one of the remaining holdovers from the Swedish death metal explosion of the 90s still had it after all these years , and boy do they!  With the same lineup since 1995, the sound is essentially the same as almost 30 years ago, but the band has smartly modernized the production and such, giving their dusty old Viking death metal romps a nice sheen and shine, like a rusty old sword polished up and sharpened for battle.

The opener “Lead Us Into War”, (the song that lured me back in) gets things going right away, with one of the band’s best songs in years, and an apt, rousing opener, with a killer marching chorus and some nice lead work. The next 10 tracks deliver classic Unleashed with a modern edge. From the fierce “You Will Fall”, one of my favorite songs, “Gram” with a classic headbanging riff in the chorus, moodier, almost middle eastern “Terror Christ”, mid-paced crunch of “By The Western Wall” to closer “Open to All the World”, the albums longest track that has a little of everything in Unleashed’s arsenal. There seems to be a slightly less black metal influence than Odalheim, and more control and leads, but its all undeniably and instantly recognizable as Unleashed and you can’t say that about many bands nowadays (even some of their 90s peers).

Hedlund has the same vocals he had in the early 90s, and all the lyrics are all focused on Vikings and battle etc, missing the odd forays into real world, non-Viking stuff that the band dabbled in a few albums ago. Also, the fact the seminal bands they came up with in the 90s (Entombed, Grave, Dismember) are defunct, dull or split in half,  and these guys have truly stayed the course with only a  misstep or two, is a testament to Hedlund and Unleashed’s staying power.  Consider me fully back on board the longship.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
February 11th, 2019

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