Unleashed Sworn Allegiance

Since bassist Johnny Hedlund parted company with Nihilist (from which Entombed was born) in the late ’80s, Sweden’s Unleashed have been a pioneering force behind the metal plumbed by Grave and Dismember. 1995’s Victory saw a slight digression from their cutthroat-speed death into chuggier realms, and three studio albums later, Sworn Allegiance reins in the hounds of hell for another round of old-school, devil-horned mayhem. Openers "Winterlong” and "Destruction (Of The Race Of Men)” are speedy anthems for the mosh pits, while "Only The Dead” and "One Night In Nazareth” pack harder-rock punches and ridiculously necrophilia-filled lyrics like a poor man’s Six Feet Under. Fortunately, "The Longships Are Coming” reintroduces the band’s unique Viking-metal penchant, followed thematically by "Attack!” and "To Miklagård.” The thrashier "Insane For Blood” and "I Bring You Death” are ideal foils for the punkier "Helljoy” and "Attack!” The humorous "Metalheads” comes off like a Manowar cover, but guitarists Fredrik Folkare and Tomas Olsson ward off all disparagement with "To Miklagård,” flexing their amazingly fluid, power-metal soloing muscles. After 2002’s ‘comeback with Hell’s Unleashed was met with critical derision, Unleashed have bounced back in fine form, as Sworn Allegiance is a grimy ride through the warrior halls of Asgard and is note-for-note a better trip than Grave’s most recent coffin nail, the aptly titled Fiendish Regression. (Century Media)