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The Vikings return to very good levels! - 89%

CHRISTI_NS_ANITY8, February 5th, 2009

So, here we are with the eighth Unleashed album if we don’t count the two live efforts. Sincerely, the mid-era Unleashed efforts didn’t shine in aggression or simply in songwriting. The 90s were terrible for most of the bands with the roots on the previous decade and hardcore/groove was the main problem. Even with Sworn Allegiance, Unleashed pushed their lame style to the extreme also because sometimes the structures were redundant and boring. At first sight, even this time with the new Midvinterblot I’ve something to complain (or simply to be sceptical about): the length. As always, conserving the right level of songwriting during this length it’s a hazardous challenge.

However, let’s describe this album without looking at the number of the songs and let’s focus the attention on the pure musical direction (sometimes there are albums that flow incredibly even if the length is more than remarkable). “Blood of Lies” welcomes us in the right way with all the instruments following an impulsive, violent direction. The production is one of the best they’ve ever had and this is good also for the guitars. The unmistakable break is by the middle with a solo too but this time it’s good, with a more melodic vein without losing anything is sheer impact. “This is Our World Now” features a perfect blend of epic influences and massive, fast death metal doses to remain on excellent levels.

“We Must Join With Him” is the first mid-paced (with few up tempo sections) episode but thanks to the very good guitars work it doesn’t result boring at all. So far, the guitars have done a massive work and also the structures seem more various avoiding that sensation of “already listened”. The brutal, powerful vocals by Johnny lead us to the title track that is a perfect mid-paced, epic tune. The few stop and go riffs are mixed with tremolos and the march is really dark and epic. “In Victory or Death” and “Triumph of Genocide” are both great examples of goodness and aggression re-found with always dark passages, good solos and never dull mid-paced breaks. The arpeggios on the second one are very important for the whole atmosphere.

“The Avenger” is a catchy, massive and always dark/epic mid-paced track with few up tempo sections in which the guitars are on tremolo. The intensity never goes down and I’m quite astonished for this improvement! “Salvation for Mankind” follows far more violent directions, with all that hate towards Christianity this band features in the lyrics and I can simply enjoy this style. As always, the refrains are one of the best things here and they are always perfectly recognizable in a song. “Psycho Killer” has a vicious progression, being so violent and dark. No time to rest because the doomy and massive march of “The Witch” is a destroying example of good mid-paced song with fast restarts, without fillers, like it happened in the very recent past.

The pure thrash metal burden of a song like “I Have Sworn Allegiance” makes me so happy. The riffs are dry, simple but so catchy and powerful. In total opposition we find that epic “Age of the Warrior” that, anyway, conserves the right burden of anger that lacked on the mid-paced compositions from the previous albums. “New Dawn Rising” has a powerful thrash metal riffage and more of the good up tempo. The blast beats sections are good to make the refrain stand out in violence as “Loyalty and Pride” follows with martial up tempo sections, furious bass drums parts and an unbelievable epic touch. The slow breaks are just massive and once again the guitars sound is incredibly heavy and crushing.

The last “Valhalla Awaits” is a slow, dark march to end of this great return by Unleashed. It’s been awhile since this band didn’t release such a good effort. Finally, the guitars have acquired the long sough after power and the compositions joy of a new found goodness in terms of catchiness, structures and aggression. A special mention should be given for the lead guitar for the simple but excellent solos on every song. The mid-paced sections are now far more convincing and no more dull or repetitive, achieving the goal of being also massively epic and dark. If the previous efforts by this band let you down, listen to this one and HORNS UP!