"The Hunt For White Christ"

By Lord Randall

Can we just all go ahead and admit it? Sweden’s UNLEASHED is the AC/DC of Swedish death metal. Few bands - Scandinavian or not – could’ve or would’ve stayed within the oft’ confining realm of death metal for as long as Johnny Hedlund & co., not only staying true to its heart, but continuing to deliver in quality. 

UNLEASHED’s 13th rages from the start, no time for such paltry, trendy things as “intros”, ‘Lead Us Into War’ diving headlong with berserker passion into battle, though the mix seems a bit more “clean” than I’m used to from the band who gave us ‘Insane For Blood’ and ‘Forward To Miklagard’ from 2004’s "Sworn Allegiance". ‘You Will Fall’ is a jumbled mess, the guitar duo of Folkare/Olsson truly being the tune’s only saving grace and, while I can’t confirm in the definite, if founding drummer Anders has opted to go the trigger route, it does NOT serve him well within THFWC. ‘Stand Your Ground’ recovers nicely, a low, rumbling tank, insistent and devastating, while ‘Terror Christ’, deceptively peaceful at its start, quickly menaces in its tale of Christianity’s arrival in Scandinavia under the guise of assistance, ending in massacre.‘The City Of Jorsala Shall Fall’, at once burled in trad-DM riffing, and anthem-ready in the way that you always know at least one song on an UNLEASHED album will be, shines, and it must here be mentioned that if any longtime fan of UNLEASHED has ever wished for a “guitar album” from the quartet, THFWC is clearly it. No slouches to begin with, Folkare and Olsson at least a handful of times save Hedlund from himself, lifting what might have otherwise been standard, unremarkable DM to something of which the quartet can be proud. 

Ending with the triumphant ‘Open To All The World’, Hedlund and the band’s Odalheim trilogy is complete, but does not go quietly, if anything showing that - though far from perfect – the old guard of Swedish death metal still has plenty of venom left in its fangs.