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Groovy and catchy - 85%

Myrkrarfar, May 8th, 2017

Unleashed. Fucking Unleashed. Johnny and the boys have always held a sweet spot in my heart. And the music’s good, too. Har. Har. For the last 20+ years, the Swedes have been plowing their own furrow on the fields of death metal, never straying far from the original concept of mostly mid-paced, catchy and dark songs with war- and Viking-themed lyrics snarled by Hedlund. 2010 sees the release of their tenth studio full-length, “As Yggdrasil Trembles”, and it is exactly what you could expect. Whether that is a good thing or not depends on your taste, and obviously if you have good taste you like Unleashed, and thereby this record. Facts of life.

Something which is absolutely marvelous with a band like Unleashed (other great and classic bands, like for example Entombed and Dismember, also possess this quality) is that you can hear ten seconds of virtually any song from any album and you can name the band on the spot. Finding your own voice, and then using and exploring it is something most bands forget about, which is incredibly sad. And moronic. Kudos to Unleashed for doing their thing, and being able to uphold a high standard of quality throughout their career. The only dip came after the classic releases of the 90’s, with 1997’s “Warrior” and 2002’s “Hell’s Unleashed”, but ever since “Sworn Allegiance” (2004) there has been a sense of renewed vitality in the band.

Lead guitarist Folkare is nowadays the main composer (he’s written 11 of the 12 original tracks on “AYT”) and his writing style is – though still true to the Unleashed formula of old, both regarding tonalities, chord progressions, rhythms and the overall sense of impending mayhem – a bit more streamlined and progressive, and though it sounds a bit stupid and this could be misinterpreted – more professional. Everything is expertly put in place, with lead melodies and solos being as important as the riffs played underneath them. Song structures are very well thought-out and usually follow the same, simple formula. As most riffs and melodies are very good, groovy and catchy, this orthodox approach works fine as fuck.

Still, sometimes I find myself missing the spontaneous and unexpected quality most band’s early material hold; you know, when they didn’t know shit about song parts or structures and just tested different parts after each other, and then it all just became a song. The lack of this kind of entropy is absolutely not a big issue with this record, fuck no, all the songs just have such an easy flow that I started wondering why I didn’t flinch at anything irregular that stuck out. Turns out there’s nothing to complain about, so I invented a problem. So sue me.

Execution on “As Yggdrasil Trembles” is amazing, as well as the production – crystal clear yet punchy. Schultz’ drumming is as onslaughtish as ever, and Johnny’s vocals actually sound better for every album. Folkare’s solos deserve an extra mention; it is very rare to hear solos that are this well-composed and well-played, with both style, taste, and technique, in today’s death metal. Many guitarists can play fast but not many have the skill of using subtle tone and articulation, which comes across in vibratos, bends, pick accents etc. And the fact that he plays his shit as good live as he does on record is another big fucking plus. I witnessed this myself at Luleå, Sweden the day after the album was released.

Summa summarum, “AYT” is another Unleashed album with a dark atmosphere and great songs that stick in your mind. The title track, “Wir kapitulieren niemals” (that slow bridge part is so fucking sweet and creepy!) and “Cannibalistic Epidemic Continues” are recommended tracks to check out if you’re not convinced. This is what Unleashed sounds like, this is what they’ve sounded like since 1989, and you know what? I wouldn’t want it any other fucking way.

Unleashed is Back - 60%

promethian_death, March 19th, 2010

One thing I don’t think anyone would argue with me about when it comes to Sweden’s legendary Viking Death pioneers Unleashed is that they are consistent. If you pick up Victory and then turn around and listen to Hell’s Unleashed and then to their latest offering As Yggdrasil Trembles, you know what you are going to get. This is the reason that many of the Swedish bands remain popular for so long: they find what works for them and then pretty much stick to. Why fix what isn’t broken?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Unleashed. They are one of the best death metal acts out there. But I have yet to see them produce an exceptional album, As Yggdrasil Turns follows this trend, not making me go “Wow,” but not changing my mind about my love for these guys either. It’s that consistency I mentioned previously that I think has kept these guys going for twenty-one years. Other than changes in production over the years, Unleashed hasn’t changed to any extreme degree over the years. This has worked well for them.

One thing that I have noticed has changed over the years, and take this as you may - it could be good for some and bad for others - is that as these boys have grown and matured as a band over the years, so has the musical aspect. The construction of the music has become more structured and to some minor extent, more melodic and catchy. I can definitely pick up the difference in this when I listen to the above mentioned Victory and then listen to As Yggdrasil Trembles. The title track, “This Time We Fight”, “Return Fire”, and “Yahweh And The Chosen Ones” are the ones where this difference can be picked up the most readily.

I would also like to point out that the best tracks off the album are “Master of the Ancient Art” and “Yahweh And The Chosen Ones,” and “Cannibalistic Epidemic Continues.” Both are excellent examples of the newer sound they have developed. They are also very catchy, with guitar riffs that have the potential to get stuck in your head, making the songs very memorable.

As Yggdrasil Trembles is a must for die-hard Unleashed fans. If you’ve never had a chance to hear this band, you should pick up this album; you won’t regret the investment.

by Kesh Butler, contributor from Metal Psalter Webzine

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