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The (Unleashed) Power of a Danish Viking - 96%

bayern, May 9th, 2013

Although this act is often viewed as the most worthy successor to the legends Artillery, the truth is that by the time the first official release saw the light of day, the band founder and mainman Ken C. Jacobsen had already left Denmark and had relocated to New York, and this is where most of the band’s discography was created including the album reviewed here. All the helping hands in the recordings, except for the drummer who is none other than Jorg Michael (Running Wild, Mekong Delta, Living Death, Rage, etc.), were Americans Jacobsen the sole descendant of the mighty Vikings. Still, his guitar wizardry more than suffice the man proving himself as one of the finest guitar players to ever grace the thrash metal scene.

The band made an auspicious start with "Quintet of Spheres" which saw a technically/progressively-minded act capable of pulling out all the complex nuances of their style without losing the plot. The times were hardly ripe for this kind of music, but Jacobsen and Co. were determined to carry on and three years later they were ready with this mindfailing... sorry, mindblowing effort. The melodic "excursions" so characteristic of the debut were left aside superseded by sterile precise technical shreds which get introduced from the very opening chords of "Gateway to Deadly Sins" which will immediately bring memories of Coroner's immortal "Mental Vortex", among other masterpieces from the not so distant past. The close to 9-min of puzzling riff-patterns and sudden time-changes experienced on the aforementioned composition will more than warm-up the listener for what follows; what follows is a highly complex interpretation of the modern thrash trends which "disregards" the warm classic atmosphere of the debut, but will win the fans' hearts with super-stylized musicianship reflected in complex song-structures, labyrinthine guitar tapestries, and inevitable speedy digressions the latter served with a solid pinch of technicality.

If there's ever a flaw to be come across here it would probably be the harsh dry vocal delivery which tries to keep up with the mechanical shredding by producing as little melodic antics as possible being a total contrast to the attached high-strung clean singing style heard on the "Quintet". Whether this is the most suitable choice for the musical adjustments made here is debatable, but one would hardly bother too much with the vocal delivery absorbed by the outstanding performance of the rest of the crew. Jacobsen is responsible for all the guitar pyrotechnics on the album which is a feat in itself and he should stand right next to Tommy Vetterli (Coroner), Uwe Osterlehner (Deathrow), and Reiner Kelch (Living Death, Mekong Delta) as one of the most technical guitarists in thrash metal.

Those who got lost on the monstrous 12-min title-track from the debut will have to prepare for another big spoonful of sprawling progressiveness which is the 11.5-min "Cataclysm". If the previous song was plain overlong the band losing the plot at times weaving this fairly complicated musical landscape, in this present case the listener will be pleasantly surprised to hear cleverly-concocted arrangements executed in a tad more simplistic and more aggressive manner with direct headbanging sections nicely intercepting the more complex passages the mixture flowing effortlessly with an accentuated hard-hitting edge.

The "Absorbed" EP which followed suit two years later is kind of underwhelming leaving a certain aftertaste definitely not as strong as the one left by Deathrow's "Life Beyond" or Living Death's "Killing in Action", but still... The complexity is still there, but is served in a somewhat careless, less carefully calculated, fashion the songs marred by an uneven blend of direct and more technical moments the latter having an urgent, rushed feel to them. Jacobsen sounds true to himself, but his pyrotechnics are not as inspired as though the man knew that what comes next is a long indefinite hiatus lasting up to this day. Even if he doesn't produce anything else under the Unleashed Power name, currently composing music for films (including the last two "Spiderman" features) and games, his name will by all means be remembered, and this album will always find its place among the ten best progressive/technical thrash metal works ever released.