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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.