Released: 2010, Nuclear Blast
Regular as clockwork. You could set your watch by it. The Swedes unleash a hailstorm of blistering and catchy Scandinavian death metal on the suspecting public every two years on the dot, and 2010 Anno Satanas is the year the gods have chosen for AS YGGDRASIL TREMBLES and Unleashed to incite us all to headbanging mayhem once more.
It must cause all decent reviewers a great deal of discomfort to employ the same hackneyed old phrases and clichés to describe each new Unleashed album. Sure, you can embellish and dress it up slightly by pointing out the tiny but increasing black metal influences in the guitar riff style and Hedlund’s vocals, the improvement of Fredrik’s lead playing, the cleaner production values and mixing balance, the almost Amon-Amarth-ish quality of the catchy riffs, the increase of speed and use of blast beats and double bass in the drumming…
…but really all you’d be doing is highlighting the fact that Unleashed have had pretty much the same consistent sound over the last five albums at least. Their progression from gnarly mid-paced Stockholm death metal to crust punk influenced Swedish death metal pretty much stopped with 1997’s WARRIOR, and after the five year hiatus, over 2002’s HELL’S UNLEASHED and the next four albums Johnny and co. have concentrated on refining their unique take on Swedish death metal with thrash influences, and without much experimentation or deviation from the straight and narrow. The simplistic yet effective song structures (almost rock ‘n’ roll in their straightforwardness), the powerful, groove-filled riffs and overall awesomeness personified guitar team of Fredrik Folkare and Tomas Masgard, the gloriously still-coherent bark of Johnny Hedlund bawling out fist-pumping yet infectious odes to Viking gods and incitements to war in the well-written yet pleasingly familiar lyrics, the polished and straight-to-the-point quality of the entire package – they’re all still there, just as they were on 2008’s HAMMER BATTALION. And 2006's MIDVINTERBLOT. And...
You could sum up the essential Unleashed elements in a few words: powerful, infectious, memorable, headbangable – and these would hold true for arguably every album in their discography. How many bands can say that? And on the cusp of a 20-year long career, the Swedes never fail to disappoint. And how many bands can say THAT?