Released: 2002, Century Media Records
Editors Note: Metal-Rules.com was founded in 1995 as a forward thinking site. Our goal is, and always has been, to support Real Metal. The decision was made that very rarely do we ever go back and review an album from before 1995. Does the world really need another CD review of Master Of Puppets, Powerslave or Screaming For Vengeance? We don’t think so. We have always supported what is happening now.
Starting in January, 2014, as we head towards the 20th Anniversary of Metal-Rules.com, we are looking back and filling in a few gaps in the review database. We want to complete the post-1995 review catalogue of some of the bands that we have supported since 1995, when very few, if any websites were supporting real Metal. It’s fun to go back and revisit some of these albums that we did not review when they were first released. Enjoy!
This album came as quite a shock for longtime fans of Unleashed. After a five year wait not much had changed. The line-up was the same and the band was still on Century Media. In terms of membership, Unleashed remains one of the most stable bands in Death Metal with only one member change since the debut album, well over 20 years ago now. Self-produced by the relative newcomer Frederik, there were no real external indicators for the big change the band was about to undergo.
Like many of the Swedish Death Metal bands Unleashed finally changed style, significantly and embraced the death ‘n’ roll sound. HELL’S UNLEASHED is a simple enough presentation, the album cover a bit dull, simply a rendering of the logo consumed by fire. I’m glad to see the upside down cross still in place, when other bands changed their style, they also changed their logos to perhaps distance themselves from their old sound. The band still write really short songs, in fact five of the cuts don’t even break the 3:00 mark and the longest is 4:14. The band also has the tradtion of having a bit of a saying or slogan on each album and this time it is ‘We Create Hell…You Unleash it.’ Seems appropriate!
The lyrics are starting to diversify at this point too, much less Viking influence, although there still is one track ‘ Fly Raven Fly’. The rest cover all sorts of fun topics; witch-burning (Burnt Alive), assassination (Triggerman), decapitation (Your Head Is Mine), necrophilia (Dissection Leftovers) and of course date rape (Joy In The Sun). The 14 cut album is really punchy and boisterous. It starts with a fairly typical triple fast song attack before the aforementioned ‘Fly Raven Fly’ slows the pace down. The tempo is mid-paced to fast most of the time with simple song structures allowing the choruses to stick out easily. The album ends with a bit of an instrumental, ‘Made In Hell’ with some sound-effects and allows everyone to relax and a fairly intense 40 minutes. The obligatory ‘buzz-saw’ guitar tone and Johnny’s guttural roar are still in place as are the simple drum and bass work, but the song structures are even more simple and infused with groove and rock vibe than ever before. Some people liked the new direction, I did, but some felt the band strayed too far away from Death Metal at this point.
In hindsight, all of the Big four of Swedish Death Metal (Entombed, Dismember, Grave and Unleashed) have all flirted with the ‘death ‘n’ roll’ sound at one point, some more than others. Entombed embraced it completely and left behind Death Metal, Grave flirted with the sound in the mid-90’s for a couple of albums (SOULLESS, HATING LIFE) and Dismember also dabbled with the style in 1995 on MASSIVE KILLING CAPACITY. Both latter bands returned to a more traditional Death Metal sound in later years. This was Unleashed turn to experiment and moreso than Dismember and Grave, Unleashed kept some of the death ‘n’ roll style for the rest of their career. HELL’S UNLEASHED was a bit of a shocker, however still an excellent album, albeit one that marked the second phase of the bands long and prolific career.