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Unleashed is one of those bands who didn't recieve alot of attention upon their entrance into the metal world, but now their first two albums are chalked up as classics of the Swedish death metal genre. Although the songwriting hasn't changed drastically from those two, their few albums beyond "Shadows in the Deep" seem to get cast aside for their more famous and celebrated predecessors. "Across the Open Sea" saw a shift to lyrical topics on Norse mythology and war, something I'm always glad to hear as Vikings are always a welcome change to the usual death, doom and darkness.
"Across the Open Sea" isn't held as high as their earlier works, so it goes without saying that "Victory" gets passed up too. This album isn't particularly amazing, but its certainly reliable, especially for 1995 when most of heavy metal had begun to wither and fall apart. The songwriting is seemingly middle of the road, with some instances that are a heavier and grittier version of "death rock," a genre which has gained some steam in more recent years. Still, it does go off into respectable death metal with tracks like "Scream Forth Aggression" and "Victims of War," and even venture into slower, gloomy doom metal on "Precious Land."
Johnny Hedlund continues to bring forth his respectable vocal performances on this album, not much has changed since "Across the Open Sea" and he continues to be the stand out musician in the band. The instrumentation behind him is more or less consistent and reliable, never really leaving a safe formula but never gets boring. You could compare this level of quality music and consistency to bands like Crowbar or perhaps Amon Amarth, who are comparable with the band's simple yet effective sound and Viking lyrical focus respectively.
While some of these songs can venture into sounding alike, none of them are terrible as at least we're not treated to a poorly chosen Judas Priest cover as on the previous album. "Victory" isn't necessarily as glorious as one might expect from the same band who gave them "Where No Life Dwells," but that doesn't mean it should be plopped in the trash. I personally like most of Unleashed's material, despite the ominous Entombed clone their works are often criticized as. Even with that, I wouldn't place "Victory" as high as their earlier work, even slightly below what "Across the Open Sea" offered, which was more variety and more memorable songwriting. Yet for fans of this rather underrated group, "Victory" is an excellent addition to any collection of heavy metal listeners, providing plenty of consistent, reliable, if unremarkable material.
For a lot of the old-school fans, Unleashed begins with Where No Life Dwells and ends with Shadows in the Deep, (or Across the Open Sea, tastes depending). Those fans are missing out on a lot of great albums, especially Victory. I view Victory as their last great album before the somewhat uninspired Warrior album, which ended their first era. Their second era (Hell Unleashed forward) has some hit-and-miss songs and albums, but as far as solid, Viking and Norse themed death metal, Victory really has all of the elements that you should expect from Unleashed, in any time frame.
Musically, this is old-school Swedish death metal, but done in a much more controlled and intentional manner, as opposed to the haphazard old "make a lot of noise and make sure we're heard" attitude some of their peers have, including themselves on their earliest recordings A good portion of this album is anywhere from slow to mid-paced, with a few notable exceptions of blistering aural attacks - In the Name of God and the very fast Revenge being your prime suspects.
As far as instrument tone and production, the sound on this is fairly crisp for its time, giving all of the instruments room to breathe. This really works to the benefit of this album, as the leads are definitely worth hearing, the riffs don't disappoint (with their down-tuned transitions from down-tuned riff to half a step down having eerily awesome effects), and the drums shine through proudly. The big winner here, though, is Johnny's vocals have definitely progressed since Across the Open Sea. They are definitely still rough death metal vocals, but it seems that Johnny has further mastered the art of enunciation within the limits of those vocals.
Predating all of the "Viking" metal bands, save for Bathory, Unleashed have never limited themselves to ships, Vikings, plundering, looting and slaying. That's not to say that they don't occasionally write about these very topics, but you are much more likely to find lyrics that also touch on social topics, mental illness, isolation and unadulterated rage. For example, In the Name of God deals with the issues that the church have had when it comes to inappropriate sexual conduct with children within their parishes. Against the World deals with the struggles that a listener could easily relate to, feeling like it's you (or us) against the world.
Overall, this is definitely an Unleashed album that should be in any Unleashed fans' record collection by default. And for fans of old-school Swedish death metal (you know, as opposed to "melodic Swedish death metal by the likes of In Flames and Soilwork), this is definitely an album to seek out if you don't already have it. This is highly recommended.
And remember, before there was Amon Amarth, Borknagar, Ensiferum and Vintersorg, there was Unleashed - laying down the blueprint for extreme Viking metal. Pay Your Respects!
Standout Tracks: Victims of War, In the Name of God, Against the World, (and of course) Revenge!
This Victory album features some changes by Unleashed. If in the past they were known for their gloom sounds and the essential productions, here the things are a bit different. The 90s brought with him several innovations and also the old school bands that resisted to this period were influenced in a quite heavy way. The death metal was suffering and the thrash metal was dead and cold. Unleashed, before stopping for few years, displayed to the fans a new conception of metal and, in particular, a new one for death metal. Yes, the ideas were not already so strong anymore on the Across The Open sea album but it was still a quite pure form of death metal…
Here instead, the biggest influences come from the modern metal and a band like Machine Head…damn! I was this band never been born! The production is now clearer and the guitars have found that loud volume they deserved, but, on the other hand, everything sounds less impulsive ad more polished. Forget about the obscurity that lied so heavily on the albums before. The very first riff is representative: it’s terribly gooving and with whistles added. The mid-paced progression is not strong and the vocals are far less screamed! They are unbelievably without balls! They took more elements from the modern styles and hardcore…
The riffs are derivative and the faster restarts are dull and everything seems so weak. It’s also irritating to notice how much this virus entered the sound. I mean, Unleashed never put out masterpieces but they always seemed faithful to a certain style now they let me down. Fortunately, “Legal Rapes” is faster but the vocals are not that convincing. By the way, it’s a way better song and it’s reminiscent of the old times with fast riffs and tremolos. The more epic breaks are very well-done. “Hail The New Age” is so boring and slow…almost nothing is remarkable here. The riffs are always identical and not that special either.
“The Defender” shows always those mid-paced parts and the quite derivative riffs. The vocals are a way between the classic low-pitched tonality and the new style. It’s not horrible as track but not exceptional either. It’s the same speech we could do for the boring tracks here: they are not horrible or bad but not strong. Finally “In The Name Of God” is different and the thrash elements are more present. The style has changed and we find less Unleashed style riffs. They are more thrash metal in style. Then, how can you make a 5 minute doom track like “Precious Land” and try to be convincing and epic? This is beyond me…
The riffs return on “Berserk” and actually this song is good in my opinion…the style is always a bit contaminated, but this offering is surely more valid. The epic and massive chorus is very good and the verses are heavy as fuck. “Scream Forth Aggression” is another very good track. This time the vocals fit better the sound and the epic/aggressive feeling is more present, also in the riffage. Surely this is the best track along “Berserk”. “Against the World” is not bad but a bit repetitive on the mid-paced parts. The riffs are heavier in some sections and way better too, while with “Revenge” we reach the end of the album. This song is definitely faster and the riffs are just obliterating. Another very good song.
All in all, the start was kinda tragic but going on this album surprised me for some good tracks. Surely the faster ones and better and the doom others are to skip without fear. Some vocal parts are more modern but they are not so annoying. By the way, the screams are always present. Frankly, the good tracks here are even a bit better than some older ones…yes…the thrash elements are stronger but they are dynamic and well-played. Overall, it’s a worthy effort by this band.
The Swedish death metal band Unleashed has unleashed some pretty quality death metal over the past years. Victory carries on this quality, though the album is good, it isn't that good. Victory is like a bunch of filler songs that should be on other albums, thrown onto one separate album.
Like I mentioned before, the album is good quality death metal, but nothing worth selling your soul for. For the most parts the songs are medium paced to very slow, (see Precious Land which is slower than any Winter song ever created). Medium to slow songs aren't really that bad, but add that with some very typical death metal riffs, and then you can understand what I am saying. The riffs aren't really that good, in no spot do they become technical, just straight power chord riffing which makes the album boring at times.
The good part of this album is the drumming. It isn't the greatest, but it manages to display some unique drum beats for being death metal music. The worst thing about this album has to be the singing which is very sloppy even for death metal music. On some songs he sings with a very deep, growled voice, while other times he sings with a forced growl that sounds real pathetic. On some songs he uses both techniques and interchanges them every other second. Best song to show this is in the song Hail the New Age, one of two highlights on this album. One worth mentioning song on this album is In the Name of God, which is the fastest song on this album, hence the first time I headbanged on this album.
Don't get me wrong, this isn't total bull shit. It is just a very mediocre death metal album, and a very mediocre Unleashed album for that matter. Maybe you die hard Unleashed fans appreciate this more than I do. I would pick it up if it was at or under five bucks, nothing more though.