“And Yggdrasil did tremble. And during the three years of everlasting cold and darkness called the Fimbulwinter, Mother Nature took back what was rightfully hers and life as we knew it was never the same again. It was Ragnarök, liberator and death. From the ashes of the old world, a new one began to take form. Here is where the story of ‘Odalheim’ begins…” [introduce their new album, ‘Odalheim’, the unrepented Vikings, UNLEASHED]
‘Odalheim’ is out in Europe now, April 20th, 2012 and will be unleashed upon North America on April 24th, 2012 on Nuclear Blast Records. The successor to 2010's ‘As Yggdrasil Trembles’ was recorded at Chrome Studio in Sweden and produced by UNLEASHED guitarist Fredrik Folkare. Buy this “multifarious and hymnal album” which continues the “post-doomsday story embedded with Norse mythology of ‘As Yggdrasil Trembles’” here if you view yourself European, and here if you feel closer to North America.
(The “chief Vikings of Swedish death metal”) UNLEASHED was founded in Stockholm, Sweden in 1989 by vocalist and bassist Johnny Hedlund. Demos ‘Revenge’ and ‘Utter Dark’ secured the band a record deal with German branch of Century Media Records, through which UNLEASHED released their debut album ‘Where No Life Dwells’ in 1991. Considered a “classic” by the band's founder Hedlund, ‘Where No Life Dwells’ was described as “an audio textbook for those interested in the state and design of early-'90s death metal excess” by Jason Anderson, AllMusic. UNLEASHED cooperation with producer Waldemar Sorychta continued on their sophomore full-length 1992's ‘Shadows In The Deep’. On 1993's ‘Across The Open Sea’, the band took the production upon themselves, a trend they continued on 1995's ‘Victory’, which is considered to be one of UNLEASHED's best efforts. Guitarist Fredrik Lindgren left the group which was joined by Fredrik Folkare before the recording of their fifth album, 1997's ‘Warrior’ took place. As put by Eduardo Rivadavia, AllMusic, ‘Warrior’ “announced the beginning of an extended, five-year break, effective immediately”. They returned in style in 2002 with ‘Hell's Unleashed’, credited with being an “exceptional” album by Jason D. Taylor, AllMusic:
“Displaying a death metal sound that can only be described as their very own, UNLEASHED envisions macabre rituals with Satan and other, lesser demons with undeniable joy. The remarkably heavy groove that highlights each and every song is unusual considering the genre UNLEASHED is thrown into, yet is evident on every count,” [more here]
“In some respects,” [began his review of UNLEASHED next record, 2004's ‘Sworn Allegiance’, Eduardo Rivadavia, AllMusic] “UNLEASHED is to death metal what AC/DC is to hard rock, or the RAMONES to punk: creatively steady along the genre's formative guidelines to the point of repetition - but so good at what they do that their tricks still seem to work every time. So good, in fact, that the price of serious evolution is probably too steep to risk paying at this stage of the band's decade-plus career, making 2004's excellent ‘Sworn Allegiance’ - a gratefully surprise-free effort,” [more here]
UNLEASHED next longplayer came in 2006; ‘Midvinterblot’ was issued on SPV/Steamhammer Records as would be its follower, 2008's ‘Hammer Battalion’. In 2009, the band signed with Nuclear Blast Records through which aforementioned ‘As Yggdrasil Trembles’ was released in 2010:
“Perhaps this album's greatest virtue, one common to UNLEASHED's catalog, is that within the parameters of Swedish death metal, it’s pretty catchy. The riffs are a midtempo chug rather than offering the staccato bludgeoning of more technical styles, and the band rarely downshifts into ultra-slow sludge-noise, preferring to keep the music moving forward. … UNLEASHED, for all of their distorted guitars and thundering rhythms, retain an essential rock-ness that keeps their music accessible,” [acknowledged Phil Freeman, AllMusic – more here:]
UNLEASHED features: Johnny Hedlund - bass and vocals, Fredrik Folkare - lead guitar, Tomas Olsson - rhythm guitar and Anders Schultz – drums