Straight from the scabbard death metal in all it's original glory
Reviewer: Raising Iron
If one is a fan of classic Swedish Death Metal, then 2008 is an aural smorgasbord! We have a new Dismember (sure to make my top 10 list for this year), a new Grave, and here we have the new Unleashed. Tried and true, this long-running and highly stable act have "unleashed" (I know, cheap pun) their 9th studio album, Hammer Battalion, upon the masses.
Now, for those in the know, the first question that one wants answered is, "have they made a severe shift in style or approach?" You see, Unleashed have been churning out their take on death metal virtually unchanged since their bass player and vocalist, Johnny Hedlund, left the much-lauded Nihilist back around 1989 or so and formed this formidable franchise. Well, Hammer Battalion will answer the posed inquest with a clarion "NO". That's right, if you know Unleashed, then you are pretty much keyed in on what to expect with this release.
The next question needing answered is whether this is a bad thing or not. This is where things are going to get quite subjective. I, for one, am not complaining. Although I usually want to hear my favorite bands expanding, experimenting, and otherwise rewriting and changing their approach every couple of releases or so, it can be comforting to have those few acts out there that if you like 'em, you know what you're going to get, and it brings a bit of comfort in a world filled with sub-sub-sub genres. It's like putting on that broken-in old pair of larrigans. This is where Unleashed reside, and that's just fine.
Now to the crux of the matter, when the riffs are this damn headbangable, the production this top-notch, and the assailment this whole-hearted, who cares if it's not exactly changing the Death Metal landscape. Unleashed have left that up to others, content to swirl in their ever-spinning maelstrom of fury. Hammer Battalion is undiluted, crushing, and straight from the scabbard death metal in all it's original glory. So, pour yourself some mead and lift your mugs high for yet another round of raging ire from one of the more legendary acts to rise out of the North. "Hammer Battalion, Unleashed!"