Unleashed - OdalheimIf you’re reading this chances are that you’re a fan of metal; more particularly chances are you’re a fan of Johnny Hedlund‘s band of noise brigands, Unleashed.

If you are a fan of Unleashed then there’s really no need to read any further than this paragraph. It’s great – you’ll love it – buy it.

If you’re not a fan of Unleashed then you fall into one of two categories:

(1) You’ve heard them before and you don’t like their music. If that’s the case then this album is not a radical departure and you won’t like this either. Also go and get your ears tested.

(2) You haven’t heard anything by Unleashed before and you’re interested in reading a bit about their new album to decide whether or not you might like it. Well – it’s you (the small minority I suspect) that mean I have to carry on writing at this point – which also means I have to put my air guitar down. You selfish bastards.

Well, their last outing, “As Yggdrasil Trembles”, was a stupendous affair so it is with genuine pleasure that I can confirm they return on fine form with eleven blackened death metal ditties that will please fans old and new.

Like the most glorious and deliberate punch to the windpipe, this is a non-stop barrage of riffs, growls and Scandinavian fury. The production is sharp and precise but allows the music plenty of space to give off that gentle smoky whiff of mournful black metal gloom. The tight throbbing sound of the bass and the power chords rumbles along nicely, but still leaves a hint of that wonderfully solemn echo during the more staccato sections.

Lyrically, it is still battles, spilled blood, scores to be settled, ancient warriors and even a cheeky nod to Churchill‘s wartime oratory during “By Celtic And British Shores”.

In fact there is very little to set this apart in style from previous albums, albeit it does sound a little more polished than their earlier efforts. Some fans may miss the slightly rawer edge of the older material, but there is no loss of visceral attack here.

Highlights include the battering ram onslaught of “The Soil Of Our Fathers” which charges like an angry bull before giving way to some blisteringly fast but deceptively melodic lead work from Fredrik. “White Christ” features some interesting time changes to break up the otherwise textbook march of deathly metal rhythm and “Vinland” is a perfect slab of Viking metal that proves they can still hold their own against more commercial acts such as Amon Amarth.

It is very difficult to say, despite repeated listens, whether this tops “Yggdrasil” but it certainly matches it and that is no mean feat. So, for those of you still reading this far…make it worth my while and pick up a copy.

Unleashed – Official Website