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Odin, guide my sword! To eternal VICTORY! - 80%

SoulCancer, November 22nd, 2009

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!