Unleashed
As Yggdrasil Trembles

The Spearman’s Steed droops under the weight of the Dweller in Frigg’s Embrace as he ponders the wisdom in the runes displayed before him, Gallows’ Burden is refreshed by flapping of wings of the corpse devourer on high, and the Father of Magical Songs is not bothered by the chattering of Ratatoskr or the roaring of Níðhöggr as Yggdrasil shivers, the ash, as it stands. The old tree groans, Hvergelmir bubbles and boils, Hraesvelgr spreads his wings, and Unleashed has done it again. Studio album number ten, battalions of the world are you ready?

But wait, Johnny and his merry band are not warrior poets, they are loyal housecarls. The grunts of viking metal return with yet another mead swilling anthem dedicated to all of us. This is Johnny raising his spear high ready to cast it forth over the battle, watch for the ravenflight. Drink with Johnny, horns held high, get just drunk enough to follow him in battle, but not too much to be unsteady on your feet, just enough to have that aggressive take on the world mead hall edge. “Battalions lock and load, ready aim fire,” again.

When it comes to death metal I often hear non fans complain they can’t understand the vocals. Well all can grasp “Warriors heed my call” and “He holds his hammer towards the sky, this time we fight.” Fans say it doesn’t matter, that they don’t care about the lyrics, it’s about the music.  To me the lyrics are part of the art so of course they matter, just like the booklet artwork and layout should matter, as should any visual presentation on stage, it is all part of the total package that metal a lifestyle above and beyond a music style.

All this matters here because for me Unleashed is passionate lyrics and adherence to a visual theme. It was album artwork that caught my eye with Where No Life Dwells and lyrics that held me sway, that is what brought me into their music so ever since reading the lyric sheet is part of the ritual of an inaugural listen to a new Unleashed disc. For all the above mentioned bear with me while I romp through the lyrics further, I’ll get to the music momentarily. “Viking death metal, ya, viking death metal.”

OK – all kidding aside, some albums are completely ruined by the lyrics, not this one, or any Unleashed album. The charm is in the delivery and the authenticity, not the lack of poetic diction. I imagine Johnny leading a Blót, horn up high, we drink to Odin, we drink to Thor, hold your head up high, “It is the dawn of truth,” Johnny you have my sword. “He holds his hammer towards the sky, this time we fight.” RAAAAAA.

The lyrics do seem more repetitive than usual but not really, I always just forgive Johnny for it. The music, I always loved the repetitive rhythmic style of the early days, and we still get many glimpses here, but now I equally like the repetitive melodic style since their rebirth. The sound quality is top notch, the guitars way out in front leading the charge with the impression of virtuosity, nice loud bass and the drumming shows through nice and forcefully. As has become the case of late, many riffs stick in your head and the melodic lines show more and more inspiration. I think Fredrik and Tomas have been listening in to the messages passed by Ratatoskr. They are becoming masters of the ancient art.

This has been one of the most enjoyable releases of the year so far. I’ve got plenty of mead in the pantry, next time you tour in my area I’ll fill your horns, Hail Unleashed! (repeat ten times)

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Grimulfr
March 30th, 2010

Comments

  1. Commented by: timshel

    Parts of this review seem to be stream-of-consciousness writing, but I enjoyed reading along nonetheless. I definitely agree with your statement that the lyrics are “a part of the art.” I appreciate bands that put thought and heart into what they sing. Why say words if they aren’t intended to mean anything?


  2. Commented by: appollyonx

    Great album! So far one of the best of the year.


  3. Commented by: Cynicgods

    Unleashed= Dependability.

    Just like Motörhead or Bolt Thrower, you always know what you’re getting and they’ll never let you down.


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