UNLEASHED "No Sign of Life"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Apologies for getting to this one so late! "No Sign of Life": is the 14th studio album from the most consistent of Swedish death metal acts, UNLEASHED. With that consistency, which is certainly praiseworthy, also comes a fair amount of predictability, as fans know just what to expect from Johnny Hedlund and his Viking pals.

This album offers no surprises in that regard, but repeated spins made me rethink some of my initial thoughts. My first impression was that this record just sounds too "clean" for a band whose original efforts like "Where No Life Dwells" and "Shadows In the Deep" were defined by their dark murkiness. There;s no doubt UNLEASHED has shined some of the grit off their swords. But starting with track #4 "You Are The Warrior", there's a notable increase in that darkness and heaviness. The songs start to get more diverse...the title track is markedly grimmer and angrier than what has gone before. "The Highest Ideal" and "Midgard Warriors For Life" bring catchy, anthemic riffs to the front and the album has now found its stride. Only last cut "Here At The End of the World" falters with its weak ending...three minutes of tuneless noise.

I don't think at this stage of the game we can expect much more from UNLEASHED than "No Sign of Life". Yes, I wish they could tap into more of the defining darkness of their earliest days but they are still holding the hammer of Viking death metal high.