Monday, 27 April 2015

Unleashed - 'Dawn of the Nine' (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 24/04/2015
Label: Nuclear Blast Records

‘Dawn of The Nine’ CD//DD track listing:

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?  4:29
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

Unleashed is

Johnny | vocals, bass
Tomas | guitars
Fredrik | guitars
Anders | drums


Yep, Unleashed are one of those bands that I ALWAYS meant to listen to and get into... but never did. My laziness has most likely denied me years of quality listening. Ridiculously, I even saw them live in 2006 (Masters of Death Tour, I think) having bought tickets to see Dismember primarily, then turned up to find out I had missed them. I settled in to watch Unleashed instead and was very impressed- death metal for sure, but very much in the Swedish style without endless blast beats but with great riffs and hooks. Nearly ten years later, I have finally got around to listening to them properly with this, their latest record. Johnny Hedlund remains in place as the big man at the front, rumbling bass and Swe-death vocals present and correct.

The twelfth (!) album in this veteran band’s canon features the Norse themes of past records interwoven as a story, I believe. If you like your mythology, or Asatru or whatever you would call it, there will be things for you to enjoy here.

Opener “A New Day Will Rise” and the second track “They Came to Die” set the stall out admirably. This is great stuff- hooky, good riffs, stellar and meaty production and an undercurrent of dark atmosphere running throughout. The Viking themes run throughout the album- “Defenders of Midgard” is an obvious example. It gives us changes of tempo, unusual riffs and no small amount of trad metal influence. It would appear that this best sums Unleashed up; they are undoubtedly Swedish death metal, but of the old school variety- there is no re-route to sellout, just trad metal sensibilities combined with death metal styling and years of experience.

“Where Is Your God Now?” ramps up the pace and aggression and is much more extreme. The verses go for a thrashing tempo, though, with some melody here and there in the riffs. Again, Unleashed's assault is tempered by dynamics and song craft- it is not just mindless blasting. “The Bolt Thrower” features a chugging main riff and is a stand out track for me. How much of this is a reference to the band, I am not sure, I am fairly certain that Thor is a main influence for this one. A war between the gods of Asgard and Christ seems to be shaping up (about time!) thematically. Lovely solo and nice tempo shifts, too.

‘Let The Hammer Fly’ opens fast and furious and makes use of thrashing beats propelling riffing that could be doom paced at times- a neat trick. “Where Churches Once Burned” reinstates Mjölnir to its rightful place as the tide turns in the Norsemens' favour while the riffs and solos come thick and fast over some deathly thrashing. ‘Land of The Thousand Lakes’ pays geographical tribute while the title track rolls slow and low until a galloping riff takes hold for the solo. The leads, incidentally, are of great quality throughout and really bring light and shade to some tracks.

The record closes with ‘Welcome The Son Of Thor!’ Thrashing pace meets melodic and sinister riffing, bringing to mind the glory days of the Swedish death metal scene. It's straightforward, really: if you like Dismember, Entombed, Hypocrisy et al you will like Unleashed. It is such a shame it took me so long to catch up, but now that I have I plan to work through their back catalogue. Real Heathen death metal!

Words by: Richard Maw

‘Dawn of the Nine’ is available now

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