F U L L . R E V I E W S


Unleashed - Sworn Allegiance 2004 Century Media reviewed by: EC

Track Listing
1. Winterland
2. Destruction (Of The Race Of Men)
3. Only The Dead
4. The Longships Are Coming
5. Helljoy
6. Insane For Blood
7. I Bring You Death
8. Attack!
9. Ceo
10. One Night In Nazareth
11. Praised Be The Lord
12. Metalheads
13. To MiklagåRd
14. Long Live The Beast
The Viking longships have crashed the shore once again, running amok through the Norwegian countryside with their horned helmets, furry boots, and swords pointed to the great Odin in the sky. Yes, Unleashed have sworn allegiance to the death metal faithful with a new crusade of Swedish viking metal, aptly titled "Sworn Allegiance".

Formed in 1991 by the talented Johnny Hedlund (leaving pre-Entombed band Nihilist), Unleashed are, in my humble metalhead opinion, one of the founding pioneers of the Swedish death metal scene. More so a way of life than a musical endeavor, groups like Unleashed, Entombed, and Grave helped solidify a more sound, melodic approach to the Floridian massacre happening across the Atlantic in the late 80s. These angry Swedes were more in touch with their traditional metal souls, not really focusing on all the gory details of groups like Deicide and Cannibal Corpse, instead focusing on a more historic approach at songwriting, with a heavy emphaisis on Viking tradition (much like Finland's Amorphis). The general idea here was to create something different by maintaining a more melodic delivery. The calculated formula worked quite well, with Unleashed gaining notoriety with great studio albums like "Where No Life Dwells", "Across The Open Sea", and "Victory", all courtesy of Century Media, who were doing quite well with these types of bands (Tiamat, Grave, Cemetary, Sentenced).

After a five year absence following their 1997 effort "Warrior", the band regrouped and released "Hell's Unleashed" in 2002. The album showed that the group never missed a step, following up a monumental decade of Unleashed goodies with a well thought out death metal classic that had all of the modern overtones needed to be successful in this day and age. Now, with two years of touring under their belts, and the same lineup (Johnny, Tomas, Fredrik, Anders), these torch-bearers are on another chaotic campaign to reign supreme over the genre they helped originate.

"Sworn Allegiance" is actually a more return to form than it's predecessor. With this new offering, I hear a more traditional approach to their craft, with this record including all of the sword-wielding song writing I have grown to love about this band in the past. Some classic cuts are included with this new venture, with solid tracks like "The Longships Are Coming", "Insane For Blood", and "Winterland" easily some of the best songs of their entire career, lifted from the same identity and persona the band possessed in the early 90s. Some things never change, and that is a motto this band has kept throughout their long and successful career.

A better, tight-knit production job holds everything together, and with the help of famed engineer Peter In de Betou (Amon Amarth, Dimmu Borgir), this album is a far more superior product than "Hell's Unleashed". The drums are less hollow, the riffs are getting more high-end attention, and Johnny's vocals have been mixed perfectly. This is one fantastic display of knobs and dials working to the advantage of an album's mood, and with this production job, the band's signature sound has been amplified a thousand fold.

With the opening track "Winterland", one can feel the mood and atmosphere of the songwriting. You can sense a cold, frozen battlefield scattered with warriors and viking crusaders. Few bands can achieve a sense of atmosphere, few can potray that extra sense of horror and dread. This band does it very well and it is a main reason why, personally, I enjoy their entire discography. They never stray from this type of storytelling for long.

With the signature style of "Winterland", this record also provides more Viking storytelling as well. "The Longships Are Coming" is one of the best songs I've heard this year, and of course it potrays that ever important chaotic, stormy mood. Here we have a splendid tale of villages being ransacked and burned as a result of Viking invasions. I wonder whose side these guys are on? Along with that comes "To Miklagard", another fine historic romp through Sweden's past.

There are even more medieval tracks here, like the Tolkien inspired "Destruction (Of The Race Of Men), with its opening drum sequence that sounds like horse hooves hitting a frozen tundra. Unleashed play this type of metal so well, but they do take some more modern chances as well. With tracks like "Helljoy" and "CEO", the Swedes drift from the mythology to the current state of affairs. With those songs, the band looks to a more thrashy approach, with these songs reminding me of the last record. Fast guitars, quick double bass, and a more streamlined arrangement set the style of newer acts like Lamb Of God and Killswitch Enage (not nearly that restless though).

This album is much like Anvil's new record, "Back To Basics", simply because both releases show a triumphant return to what got them here. With "Sworn Allegiance", Unleashed have returned to their past for inspiration, and by doing so have helped further their careers. Older fans will absolutely love this one, and the newer "extreme" fans out there will get a history lesson on how the current scene was brought up. Cheers to Century Media for still taking chances on their long-time recruits.

Favorite Cuts - "The Longships Are Coming", "Metalheads", "Winterland", "To Miklagard", "Insane For Blood"


--EC 08.30.04
About this Writer:
Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has contributed to MaximumMetal.com since it's conception in 2003. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia. You can also find him on his paperbackwarrior.com blog discussing all things action and adventure.

Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: UNLEASHED
CD
TITLE BAND
DOR
REVIEWER DATE
Dawn of the NineUnleashed
2015
Greg Watson4/21/2015
Hammer BattalionUnleashed
2008
Raising Iron7/25/2008
MidvinterblotUnleashed
2006
David Loveless3/14/2008
OdalheimUnleashed
2012
Greg Watson3/28/2012
Sworn AllegianceUnleashed
2004
Eric Compton8/30/2004


ALL SUMMARY REVIEWS FOR: UNLEASHED

No Summary reviews currently exist for them.


ALL INTERVIEWS FOR: UNLEASHED
INTERVIEW BAND INTERVIEWER DATE
Johnny HedlundUnleashedEric Compton10/8/2004


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