A little anniversary here for our Swedish Viking Death Metallers of UNLEASHED – their 10th studio album has arrived, with the ominous title of “As Yggdrasil Trembles” and we are in for, I would say, about zero surprises. The band around Johnny Hedlund has been set in what they are doing for many years now, but they are one of those bands that can pull it off and fans and critics alike usually don’t complain much about that fact. And another thing that is amazing – in 21 years of existence there have been two line-up changes, with three of the four current members being founding members.
Usually I stay away from the traditional Death Metal field, but the Kungsängen quartet are one of the few bands of that sub-genre that I can wholeheartedly enjoy, for which reasons ever. Maybe Hedlund’s gruff, but intelligible vocals? The great melodies weaving through the aggression? The frequent use of double-bass to generate power? I don’t know, but I guess all three elements play a fairly important role here. Overall UNLEASHED take a very no-nonsense approach to the genre, setting out with the pounding attack of “Courage Today, Victory Tomorrow”, before they seriously increase the speed for “So It Begins”, which kicks things into high gear!
The title track’s title doesn’t just sound ominous, but also translates into the music with viscous, immensely heavy riffing and a suiting cold atmosphere, also worth mentioning are the uncompromising steamhammer “Wir Kapitulieren Niemals” that contains the battle cry “Viking Death Metal” and the German title (“We never give up”) that has this surprising doomy center piece that just emphasises the heaviness of the track even more. Same goes for “Chief Einherjar” that shows more of the melodic side of the Swedes and the brutal “Cannibalistic Epidemic Continues” that closes things off. Add to that the great DEATH cover version “Evil Dead” and we are done.
Surprises are rare in the realm of UNLEASHED, but still the quartet manages not to just tread water and just in time for the 20th band anniversary they have unleashed (pun slightly intended) a high octane and quality release worthy of their back catalogue that will satisfy any genre and band follower. Therefore let me end with a resolute WIR KAPITULIEREN NIEMALS!
(Online October 12, 2010)