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Fighter´s return - 84%

Felix 1666, July 18th, 2015

Since two and a half decades, Unleashed plough through the incrusted soil of death metal. Thanks to their (slightly overrated) debut, they accelerated from zero to one hundred in a matter of seconds. During the following years, they released tons of good songs but although a few albums that failed to reach their high standard. These albums were the direct predecessors of "Sworn Allegiance" so that the here described album came as a pleasant surprise. It showed an inspired band that celebrated its second coming. Unleashed had regained its once infectious energy and this circumstance resulted in a lot of absolutely amazing songs. But before I deal with the tracks in detail, let us have a look at the production. The powerful, sometimes rubbing guitars and the natural drums provide the foundation for Jonny Hedlund´s voluminous voice. As usual, his vocals do not sparkle with variety, but he does his job with devotion and makes his voice heard in a courageous manner. I like his style of singing because he does not belong to the "I can only growl" category. In short, raise the horns for the technical implementation of the 14 numbers and enjoy the sound.

Now it is time to exercise carefully the song material. Of course, Unleashed do not betray the Gods of death metal and complexity is still an unknown component to them. Yet they are not primitive. Painfully simple tunes like "The Immortals" do not occur. Speaking of simple things, let me draw a veil of silence over some of the lyrics. For example, "CEO" is overloaded with imbecile clichés so that my last brain cells (the ones that survived my headbanging sessions during the eighties) want to commit suicide. Furthermore, lines such as "I only fuck the dead" do definitely not belong to the most poetic works ever. Apart from that, one can only say that shit happens, Mr. Hedlund; I have a different conception of a fulfilled sex life. But I wanted to inform you about the songs themselves. Unleashed bomb us with a mixture of rapid and mid-paced songs that show the ingenuity of well executed Swedish death metal. The high speed tunes conquer your auditory canals without any detours. Catchiness, aggression and dynamism meet on an equal footing. This results in unfussy highlights like "Destruction (of the Race of Men)", "Attack!", "Praised be the Lord" or "Long Live the Beast". Exactly this way of proceeding was missing on "Warrior" and "Victory". These songs bring back pleasant memories of the fast-paced classics of their first outputs while sweeping away the vapid aftertaste of the boring numbers of the aforementioned works.

Their mid-tempo songs are not generally weaker. Inter alia due to its Viking lyrics, "The Longships Are Coming" is 100% Unleashed and shines with good riffs and drilling solo guitars. "To Miklagård" marks another successful example of the combination of historical lyrics and a more or less sedately rhythmic approach. Anyway, due to my universal affinity for high velocity songs, I prefer the more rapid outbursts of the album - an album that does not suffer from any serious defects. Admittedly, the grain of unpredictability is missing. But with regard to tradition-conscious bands in general, this is a widespread problem and no big deal. To have the "right" attitude is of higher value. Additionally, no throwaway composition damages the flow. The 45 minutes appear as exactly the right length. For the vast majority of death metal maniacs, this time is well spent. Coherent songs have right of way and any kind of technical ecstasy must wait. It sounds rather ironic, but the rediscovery of their roots pushes the band forward.

Here we go again...with lame death metal... - 57%

CHRISTI_NS_ANITY8, January 23rd, 2009

Before entering into The Sworn Allegiance album, I must remark you that Unleashed doesn’t play like the early days anymore. The first two albums were massive examples of dark death metal from Sweden but as the time passed by, the band began to lose something in inspiration and power. The split was inevitable and they came back after few years with the lame Hell’s Unleashed album. I’ve never loved them so much and I’ve always considered them quite normal, without being astonishing or stunning. Their songs have always been quite direct and simple in structures but sometimes they fell into the childish field and so often their albums were plenty of fillers.

This Sworn Allegiance features a more death metal component if we compare it to the albums before even if few songs could have been deleted to privilege the length and the quality, instead of the quantity. Since the first notes of “Winterland”, I can understand what this song is about: speed, brutality and gloominess. This is a very good start and the dark lead lines under the monolithic rhythmic riffs are actually quite good. The vocals by Hedlund have acquired again that raw and low tuned tonality, as we continue with more violence through the following “Destruction (of the race of men)”. The galloping riffs follow far more direct tempo parts while the middle break is full of good solo lines to create a good, apocalyptic atmosphere by the refrain.

“Only the Dead” is the classic, boring Unleashed mid-paced track. The riffs are the same ones and even the darker arpeggios cannot save a forgettable track. “The Longships are Coming” shows far more audible groove elements to settle down again on mid-paced sections. However, a strong point here is for the atmosphere; creating a gloomy and epic approach. As always, the chorus is well-recognizable. “Helljoy” features thrash elements for the fast riffage but we can notice some good tremolo pickings too. The band prefers the up tempo here and the classic break is by the middle with weird lead lines. “Insane for Blood” is a more mid-paced track and it’s nothing particular. The only good thing is the bass drums work, managing to keep the intensity a bit higher.

“I Bring You Back” is a faster one but the main riffs have not spectacular in it. However, while we are going on the clear beats of the drums, the riffs are more consistent and they are better during some sections. The umpteenth mid-paced section in the middle lets the solo emerge but fortunately it’s quite short. “Attack!” is a blast among the other compositions because it’s far faster and vicious. “CEO” has a really weird and quite annoying refrain. The verses are a bit better for the galloping riffs and the faster bass drums work. The rest is lame. “One Night in Nazarene” has a more mid-paced progression with a decent epic touch. The groove elements are more present here but they are not annoying while the riffs are, anyway, always the same ones…

“Praised by the Lord” is again fast and on up tempo. The riffs are more dynamic while the abuse of the lead lines over the chorus is a quite annoying choice. The structure is again quite simple with the classic and repeated break in the middle. “Metalheads” is a hymn to us but there are far better ones around. The mid-paced march and the distorted solo are good just to add a sense of darkness but nothing more. “To Miklagård” is a terribly lame track with nothing remarkable as we proceed with the last “Long Live the Beast” that displays good up tempo parts and the dark riffs. Once again, the stops are by the central part where they abuse of the same formula to let the solos enter.

Well, coming at the end of this album is a quite hard mission but, being accomplished it, I can easily re-sustain my appreciation just for the first two albums by this band and few more else. I mean, how can you put out always the same tracks? These riffs are recycled and even if the faster tracks are better, the number of riffs and the variety of them is just miserable. OK, you can get a good idea for one of two of them but the rest is just lame and boring, and let’s void the mid-paced sections! They are constantly without balls and attitude. The number of fillers is very high and this is intolerable from a band with such a long curriculum. Instead of putting out almost 50 minutes of shabby music, concentrate on the good ideas and try to develop them, avoiding the fillers and the repeated structures.

Still going strong! - 85%

Satanwolf, May 6th, 2007

With Sworn Allegiance, Sweden's Unleashed continue their brand of pummeling, straightforward death metal. On this album they stick to their tried-and-true style, and you always know what your getting with every Unleashed record: tales of Viking berserkers, the icy North, blasphemies against Christianity and the occasional horror theme. All these are present on Sworn Allegiance, and the band throws in a few fun numbers paying tribute to the loyal metal maniac, "Attack" and "Metalheads." "CEO" hilariously tells the story of a corrupt businessman indulging in some illicit afterwork activities. Despite their serious heaviness, Unleashed know how to have fun and their over-the-top lyrics sometimes remind me of Venom in their sillier moments.
But as I've already mentioned, the Vikings are still here and ready to attack. "The Longships Are Coming" is an excellent historical account of an Viking attack on a Christian monastery. They break open the history books once again with "To Miklagard," a tale of Viking exploration in Russia. The antichristian side of Unleashed shows with "One Night in Nazareth" and "Praised be the Lord," which presents organized religion as nothing more than a money-hungry business. "Only the Dead" is sure to satisfy all those necrophiliac fans out there. "Destruction(of the Race of Men)" is Unleashed's take on Tolkein's Battle at Helm's Deep and is one of the album's strongest tracks. Saruman would be proud!
On Sworn Allegiance, Unleashed aren't reinventing their own wheel, but they continue to deliver the downtuned, galloping metal they are known for. This album is sure to satisfy the band's longtime fans and is as good a place as any for newcomers to discover this excellent band, still one of the best that Sweden has to offer. Swear your allegiance and prepare for attack!

Nice death metal...with terrible lyrics - 65%

CannibalCorpse, August 3rd, 2006

I've got to be honest, Sworn Allegiance is the first Unleashed album I heard, so I'm pretty new to them.

I expected some typical death metal, but Sworn Allegiance is quite melodic and at times even a bit epic and the slower, groovier parts do remind of Amon Amarth a bit.

The incorporated lead guitar melodies are very impressive and help enhancing the epic feeling of some tracks. The bass is rather audible, but it's not exactly outstanding, so you'll forget that pretty soon.

Anders Schultz' drumming is also worth mentioning, he does some good (but few) blastbeats on here and the slower parts are rather generic but well executed.

The vocals are generally a bit higher than usual, no guttural growls here. They fit into the music quite well though, so that is not a weakness at all.

"Sworn Allegiance" is not a very original or mindblowing album, but with all the positive things I mentioned, I'd probably give it a score around the 80 mark.

But I give it a mediocre 65. Why, you might ask? Well, read the previous reviews carefully and you'll see: the lyrical work. Hell, these lyrics are SO bad that Deicide's lyrics on "Scars of the Crucifix" sound like Shakespeare in comparison. No, I'm not exaggerating here, the lyrics on here are hideous. I always enjoy some good lyrics because they can add quite a lot to the music. Still, they've never been the most important thing to me and as long as they are not too dumb. Even if they are, but contain some kind of hilarity I'm fine, but this is just TOO much. They are so bad that they are neither funny (intentional or not), have any interesting content or ANY value at all. They sound as if they were written by an angry pre-teen who's just read a comic strip about Vikings and tries to form various stories based on them.

Prime examples for the horrible lyrics are: the already mentioned "Only the Dead" which is a track that tells us that our little pre-teen fag only likes to fuck corpses. Very funny. I'm laughing my ass off, you retard. The lyrics in "The Longships are Coming" are not nearly as bad as in "Only the Dead", if taken as a single line. But like a reviewer before me mentioned, Johnny Hedlund prefers to scream that exact line out for...I think more than 30 times. A new level of repetitiveness is achieved. I don't want to do any more rants about the lyrics; they need to be heard to be believed.

Overall, "Sworn Allegiance" has some strong tracks and very decent to impressive lead guitar work, but it's so dumbed down by the lyrics that it can't be taken seriously at any time. I recommend downloading a few songs before buying.

A fun record... - 79%

Snxke, May 14th, 2005

Unleashed are back! After the last two abominations I had completely written the band off as a second-rate imitation of themselves that I had no interest in listening to ever again. Thankfully, upon pressure from a few reliable friends I picked of "Sworn Allegiance" and I'm quite pleased I did. The band are perfoming like hungry Vikings in search of food, lust and gold...Johnny's classic vocals have returned to the form that made him famous and the band seem motivated to a degree that they haven't been in years. The production is slightly compressed and bland...but overall the feel is one of tension, violence and the gleeful bloodlust that brought people to me to the Unleashed camp to begin with.

This album has a few true burners on it with numbers like, "Winterland", "I Only Fuck the Dead", and "Destruction of the Race of Men" (among others). Sure, the lyrics are as silly as silly can be...but the band certainly have cranked up the riffs and the songs are built to deliver maximum Viking destruction. Unleashed deliver the goods when it comes to crunching grooves, galloping drums and strange harmonies... While we have some filler here...the overall feeling is one of controlled chaos and total destruction.

Unleashed are back and ready to break some they say. I am pleased that Johnny and company managed to put together a release that was both catchy and crunching all in one breath. His vocals are back to what they should be and while it won't replace the older's certainly worth your money.

Buy it!

Allegience to Swedish Death - 80%

Perpetual_Winter, March 27th, 2005

Allegiance Sworn to Swedish Death

Unleashed are back with album number 9. Now a couple years ago I thought they should have called it quits after the ridiculously horrible Hells Unleashed, but Unleashed have managed to redeem themselves here. Well, at least a bit. First I'll start with the bad. Of course, the lyrics on "Sworn Allegiance," are of the Viking type, but once again generally horrible. I mean with repeated phrases like "Ice Cold, Winterland" and "The longships are coming" (I don't even want to count how many times in a row they say that), and then just overly cliché 80's shock metal lyrics like, "No matter how much you beg and plead I only fuck the dead."

However if you can overlook the lyrics, which I can't always do, you have a very solid slab of old school Swedish death metal. Nothing ground breaking or all that original, other than Unleashed are one of the originals, catchy, generally plodding mid-paced riffs; and a solo here and there, including some more non-traditional solos like the first part of the solo that starts at 1:59 in "Helljoy;" combined with solid, albeit simplistic and not all that varied, drumming and bass work. If you want technical death look elsewhere, generally outside the old school Swedish scene, as simple thus catchy is the creed here. The production is pretty crisp, which unfortunately takes away from this style of music as the guitars really seem to be lacking a bit of crunch, but they still have an okay buzz saw tone.

If you are a fan of old school Swedish death metal this is a decent album to have, and definitely better than their last effort and Entombed's latest effort. I'd recommend picking up Unleashed's fellow country-men Dismember's Where Iron Crosses Grow first, but this is musically one of the most solid releases from the Swedish death originals in recent time.