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UNLEASHED
UNLEASHED
Sworn Allegiance
(Century Media Records)
44:43min

Johnny Hedlund and his other loyal furry and tattooed warriors in the UNLEASHED - camp, have rested enough on their laurels (well, to be more precise, a couple of years since then band's previous album "Hell Unleashed" was, (eh!) "unleashed" in 2002) and have come back again with a new album titled "Sworn Allegiance" which is a 14-song offering from this Swedish "Viking Death Metal" band ("Viking Death Metal"? I kinda like the term myself. Yep...). A funny thing about UNLEASHED in my opinion is that the band has hardly changed their "deathmetallical" direction over the years and at least in that sense we should respect them for staying loyal and dedicated to their own very distinctive old school Death Metal sound. "Sworn Allegiance" makes no exception either to this rule. All familiar UNLEASHED - elements are relatively easily to be spotted out from this recording as well. Quite simplistic, sometimes even a tad monotone, but nevertheless damn catchy and nicely pummeling riffs and rhythms, enough variation between faster - and some lower paced songs, some kick-ass melody lines that pretty easily stuck in your mind indelibly, Johnny's typical vocal grunts, etc. - they all make "Sworn Allegiance" a decent listening pleasure for a Death Metal sucker. While you listen to the songs off "Sword Allegiance", you can hardly say UNLEASHED has been open for new musical challenges or discoveries as far as their brand of Death Metal comes in question. I assume that they even have had no intention to surprise a devoted UNLEASHED - fan by something which wouldn't belong to their sound in the first place at all (like a tampon into your own nose, y'know what I'm saying here?). On the contrary, to me it sounds like they have - more or less, sworn in the name of an ancient Viking recipe of the UNLEASHED chord book, taken all advantage of it and stuck with it as much and shamelessly as possible. And in UNLEASHED's case, it's not a question about any sort of regression though, just believe me! I would be lying if I said sticking with all that that feels right and justified according to the songs on "Sworn Allegiance", wouldn't have paid off for them. Namely the more you listen to the album, the better and easily you are able to pick up your own favorite songs out of "Sworn Allegiance". I for one can always bleed my ears off for such songs like 'Winterland' (holy damn... this song fuckin' rocks!!), 'Destruction (Of The Race Of Men)', 'Only The Dead', 'The Longships Are Coming' (in which Johnny's rather hilarious T.Warrior-like "Uuugh..." - imitation deserves a separate mention, heh!), 'Helljoy' (now this truly rips like a Viking sword monk's skull in Lindisfarne in the year of 793), 'Praised Be the Lord', 'Metalheads' (with its occasional MOTÖRHEAD - vibes here and there...), a heavy yet even kinda epic-like 'To Miklagård' and 'Long Live The Beast' which, in fact, brings UNLEASHED back to those essentially vital things where they are damn fuckin' good at: to come up with relatively simple, but definitely catchy, sharp and addictive song structures that eventually make UNLEASHED to sound how the way they do. To sum all this up, the sons of Thor have indeed succeeded in creating quite a hellish atmosphere on "Sworn Allegiance" and your task is just to unleash it...

Luxi Lahtinen

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