I think most (except Johnny Hedlund himself according to a recent botched interview), would agree that Sworn Allegiance was this legendary Swedish death metal/Viking act’s real comeback album, and that Hell’s Unleashed was a sick joke. Either way, with a change in label, these Swedish stalwarts are truly, truly back with a blistering album far more fitting of the bands legacy and Nordic prose and continues the improvement shown on Sworn Allegiance.

Immediately apparent from high octane opener “Blood Of Lies”, is first, the band’s new production (Fredrik Folkare at Chrome Studios) is killer, an second, the label change from long time label Century Media to SPV has re-energized the bands slightly dormant death metal tones. Mostly gone is the frivolous death ‘n’ roll and social serious, real world lyrics. Back are far bloodier, Viking, warriors, fantasy and true death metal themes. The far more vitriolic, almost thrash pace of the new material is evident right away from “Blood of Lies”, “This Is Our World” and the Tolkien themed “We Must Join With Him”, showing Unleashed are indeed back. Then the devastating chug of the title track is sheer, classic Stockholm gold. The fury returns for the short sharp burst of “In Victory or Defeat” and thrashtastic tracks like “Triumph of Genocide” “The Avenger”, “Salvation For Mankind” and “I Have Sworn Allegiance” as well as chunky numbers like “Age of the warrior” as Unleashed release an almost cathartic rampage of old school death metal/thrash with an energy not heard since Across the Open Sea, perhaps even more so.

A couple of tracks like “Psycho Killer”, “The Witch” and “Loyalty And Pride”, seem like holdovers and musically and lyrically harken back to the groovier, less death metal approach of the bands latter catalog but “Valhalla Awaits” closes things out with a glorious, precise, menacing death metal rumble far befitting the Unleashed name.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
December 14th, 2006


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