Let the mighty God of Thunder bang his head to the sound of old school Death Metal while he mercilessly smashes his foes with his hammer.
Formed in the “distant” year of 1989 in the beautiful city of Stockholm, Sweden, and still alive and kicking after almost three decades, the iconic Death Metal band Unleashed can credit their longevity and glory to their unique music concept, being the pioneers in implementing completely different themes from most Death Metal bands, such as Viking culture, Norse folklore and even references to the work by the renowned English writer and poet J. R. R. Tolkien, to their furious and coarse sounding.
In order to keep the almighty God of Thunder grinning and banging his head to the brutal sound of Death Metal while he smashes hordes of infidels with Mjölnir, Unleashed are releasing in 2015 their twelfth studio album, the good Dawn Of The Nine. Although the album does not flirt with Black Metal as much as its predecessor, the excellent Odalheim (2012), which means it lacks a little more darkness, it’s still a celebration of extreme music, war, vengeance and sacrilege that will satisfy the hunger of death metallers all over the world for more of the band’s Viking Death Metal.
Shifting between Viking Metal and more traditional Death Metal, the opening track A New Day Will Rise relies upon a strong atmospheric background and the aggressive vocals by Johnny Hedlund, while the other band members make sure the music stays visceral. It’s not the most creative songwriting in the world, but it’s still very cohesive, which is also valid for They Came to Die and its elements of Thrash Metal and Symphonic Black Metal, offering a more exciting headbanging tune. The guitar lines by Fredrik Folkare and Tomas Måsgard enrich the melody found in the music, and of course drummer Anders Schultz doesn’t seem “happy” and crushes whoever is in his path. The ominous intro already summarizes the darkness in Defenders of Midgard, a song about the will to keep fighting for our beliefs and our beloved ones (“But we will rise again / And fight, fight to defend / Our Midgard ’til the very end / Fight to defend / Our Midgard ’til the very end”). However, the music itself is boring, getting really repetitive after a while and consequently falling flat, despite the good guitar solo by Fredrik.
Fortunately, they finally unleash their infamous Death Metal in Where Is Your God Now?: its direct lyrics about being a true godless warrior (“Here we are alive again / In a battle without end / So we rise from the caves / And march until sol descends”) are very effective and the growls by Johnny are a lot more cutting. In other words, get ready for some sick circle pits to the sound of this evil mix of Death and Black Metal. And although Johnny sounds a little tired in The Bolt Thrower, it’s another good old school Death Metal tune, where the most curious detail is that I don’t know if they’re talking about the ancient missile weapon named “ballista” or if it’s a tribute to British Death Metal band Bolt Thrower. Well, Johnny sings “a master of war that feels no pain”, which makes me think it’s about the band. Or maybe it’s the weapon? What a tricky question.
Let the Hammer Fly is a straightforward fast tune that might not be innovative but works pretty well, where its instrumental appropriately sticks to the basics of extreme music and its second half feels a lot darker, with highlights to another good guitar solo by Fredrik Folkare; while Where Churches Once Burned, with a stronger atmospheric background and Black Metal-ish riffs, sounds a lot more extreme and blasphemous thanks to the melodic guitar lines by Fredrik and the blast beats fired by Anders until the song evolves to a mournful ending. In Land of the Thousand Lakes, Johnny begins with some low-tuned bass lines before the song becomes barbaric, which translates into a fast and brutal assault of riffs and beats that will break your fuckin’ neck.
The pure Doom Metal title-track Dawn of the Nine doesn’t live up to its goal, proving Unleashed sound a lot more powerful when they play at high speed and more violently. The song gets slightly more interesting in some parts, sounding like old school Black Sabbath, but that’s not enough to salvage it. And last but not least, Welcome the Son of Thor! is another decent Viking Death Metal tune despite its uninspired lyrics, where the primeval bass lines by Johnny are really potent and therefore add more balance to the drumming by Anders.
Long story short, if this is your type of music and you are interested in Scandinavian culture and floklore, there are different versions of the album available at the Nuclear Blast webstore, Amazon, iTunes and other retailers. As aforementioned, Dawn Of The Nine will surely keep the Norse gods and demons well pleased and ready for more Unleashed in a near future.
Best moments of the album: They Came to Die, Where Is Your God Now? and Where Churches Once Burned.
Worst moments of the album: Defenders of Midgard and Dawn of the Nine.
Released in 2015 Nuclear Blast
1. A New Day Will Rise 3:51
2. They Came to Die 3:13
3. Defenders of Midgard 4:37
4. Where Is Your God Now? 4:24
5. The Bolt Thrower 3:49
6. Let the Hammer Fly 4:10
7. Where Churches Once Burned 5:18
8. Land of the Thousand Lakes 4:15
9. Dawn of the Nine 6:41
10. Welcome the Son of Thor! 4:34
Johnny Hedlund – vocals, bass
Fredrik Folkare – lead guitar
Tomas Måsgard – rhythm guitar
Anders Schultz – drums