Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Drink To Victory! - 87%

Crank_It_Up_To_666, June 9th, 2008

Swedish death metal stalwarts Unleashed are nothing if not a bastion of the old school – a band devoted to the metal cause, to a disgusting, resolutely unpretty sound and to the faithful legions of the underground. And while applying such epithets to a band can all too often mean that their music lost any ability to excite through a single-minded focus on capturing the sounds of yesterday, this is not the case for Unleashed, who on the superb ‘Midvinterblot’ prove once again to any doubters that they are still capable of taking their tried and tested material and injecting it with fresh, hot, vitalised new blood.

‘Midvinterblot’ is a record that pulls no punches, indulging in the kind of death metal that does not in turn permit itself any form of indulgence, to pummel you with a linguistic trick; the deathly delights here are not crammed to bursting point with progressive curveball ideas or technical oodling, but are all about bludgeoning speed and aggression and nothing else. In other words, Johnny Hedlund and co stick resolutely to the form that has served them and their counterparts such as Entombed, Grave and Dismember well in the past, and they do it very, very well.

On display here is by and large Unleashed at their fastest, with tracks like the thunderous opener ‘Blood Of Lies’ storming out of the gates like the Headless Horseman’s satanic steed, and with tracks such as the equally vicious ‘In Victory Or Defeat’ and ‘Psycho Killer’ more than keeping pace. That said, the band do not simply blast the listener to death, and offer a refreshing variety in song structures and tempos, with ‘This Is Our World Now’ operating at various paces throughout, and the death ‘n roll ode to the Norse gods ‘Midvinterblot’ slowing things down to a mid-paced headbanger’s delight.
Not everyone, likely as not, will get on board with the relatively short run times of pretty much every song on here (none of the fifteen tracks ever progress beyond the four minute mark) but ultimately this works in Unleashed’s favour – their punk-inflected material does not lend itself to unnecessary overextension and the band do their work a credit in bringing things to a violent halt before stagnation is given a chance to set in; concision is the name of the game, and Unleashed are good at it. Admittedly, as is common with material of this nature, some of the songs may pass by as merely unexceptional, but this is reflective of a very minor percent of the material – ‘Midvinterblot’ does not relinquish attention so lightly.

Unleashed as a group here are more than solid, with every element of the band’s sound lent a clearly definable, brutal clout by the sharp, edgy production sound. Drummer Anders Schultz hits and hits hard, complimenting his straightforward (and damned fast) blasting with rolling fills and crashing cymbals, while the dual guitars of Fredrik Folkare and Tomas Masgard provide the material with plenty of filthy grit and crunching bite, not to mention some extraordinary solos. Hedlund himself takes a star turn – while his bass is a largely unexceptional if stolid backbone to the songs, his unique, snarling growl never grows uninteresting, especially with the kind of Viking/metal/Tolkien-worshipping lyrics (listen to ‘Age Of The Warrior’ and see if you can spot all the album references contained therein) he spits out with such relish.

‘Midvinterblot’ is a short, sharp blast of deathly Swedish might, providing nothing earth-shattering but more than fulfilling its promise to be a record of ferocious, uncompromising aggression. With enough variation in the song craft to keep fans new and old engaged and enough skill on their instruments to retain a listener’s interest to the end, Unleashed have delivered a true piece de resistance here. One to check out immediately.