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This is OUR World NOW! - 98%

SoulCancer, November 24th, 2009

Wow. The year is 2006 and Unleashed are doing better than ever! 17 years since their inception, and they would seem to have hit on every cylinder they possibly could with Midvinterblot. This is sure to be hailed a classic by Viking metal fans as well as death metal fans worldwide for years to come.

This is quite a change since the lackluster Hell’s Unleashed (2002) and Sworn Allegiance (2004), in that the songs are back and better than ever!

Instrumentally, this Midvinterblot finds Unleashed using their weapons (instruments) with highly-skilled precision. Some of the outstanding weapons in their arsenal are Johnny’s vocals – proving once again that enunciation in not a bad thing in death metal or Viking metal. Hearing what’s being said? What a novel concept! We must send this memo to Chris Barnes…

Another thing that leads me to love this album is the leads as played by Fredrik. You see, the thing is, he doesn’t just play leads… he makes them sing, in his own way. Waiting eagerly for another great lead, all the while listening to great songs, is a very pleasurable experience!

Musically, this is death metal, plain and simple. There are a lot of cold riffs and minor notes which add to the Viking metal genre: this lets the listener know damn well that this isn’t a “brutal” NYDM release – this is the art of attacking the listener while providing some thought-provoking tunes as well as some silly songs.

You see, as most of us know, Johnny has been constantly brushing up on his historical knowledge, and it shines through on this album more than any of the others. Instead of the typical “fuck Christ” we always hear, we get some logic behind the thoughts. “The Avenger” is about reclaiming the Scandinavian history despite the church’s dominance, therefore extracting revenge on the ones who brainwashed the townsfolk of old. Likewise, “Salvation for Mankind” refers to the bones of the supposed Christ in the tomb, and raises the possibility that, instead of rising again there may have been someone who stole the bones, thus creating the cult we now call Christianity. These lyrics are much deeper than Deicide and any other “FUCK GOD” band have been able to come up with.

Other lyrics touch on honor, pride, tradition (Midvinterblot is about an old Scandinavian tradition not unlike the American “New Year’s Eve”), social commentary (“Psycho Killer” is about how media and politicians use killers to cover up the real news, which would leave normal people enraged)… I could go on and on, but I’ll leave it here.

It would be loathe of me to leave out two more bits that need to be mentioned. First of all, Johnny gives brief descriptions of every song and the thoughts that led to their writing, towards the back of the booklet. For the casual fan and rabid Unleashed warrior alike, this is yet one more great reason to snag this album.

And last? “Valhalla Awaits” is definitely, without a doubt, the most epic song Unleashed have ever, ever written. At 3:34, it definitely feels longer… it is epic in that the power and the majesty in the riffs, and the content of the lyrics, go well above and beyond what bands like Vital Remains cover in 8+ minutes. If you only get this album for one reason, this song is it.

This could be their best work ever. I’ll hold reservation until the next few albums have arrived, but at this point, this is definitely an album you should be ashamed not to own.

Oh, and again, Valhalla Awaits owns everything they’ve ever done!