By Dr. Abner Mality

Unleashed had to try and shake things up a bit after their last album "As Yggdrasil Trembles". There was something missing from that album, something that kind of felt like going through the motions and settling into comfortable mediocrity. Fortunately, I can confirm that the long-running Swedes have injected some different elements into "Odalheim" and this has given it a good shot in the arm.

This is really the coldest, blackest album Unleashed have done. Although staying true to Swedish death metal roots, there's a real black metal feeling to tunes such as "Fimbulwinter" and "Odalheim". The aggression is certainly there, but it is very cold and steely, not warm and fuzzy. Many of the riffs here have that Viking sound to them, something these guys have been known for, but not delivered in quite this fashion before. There are also a lot of acoustic intros to much so that they kind of run together after a while. A folky strummed melody to start, then Johnny yells 'YAAAAHHHH!!!" and we're usually off to the races.

I don't want to scare off Unleashed traditionalists, because tunes like "Gathering The Battalions" , "The Soil Of Our Fathers"  and "Vinland" are pretty familiar stuff, which I don't mind, but the black and Viking influences are where "Odalheim" really shines and what enable it to surpass the previous effort easily. Final cut "The Great Battle of Odalheim" is easily one of the most epic Unleashed tunes ever.