Unleashed Midvinterblot

The fate of Swedish death metal pioneers Unleashed didn’t bode well when they jumped long-time label Century Media and landed on SPV, where metal bands go to die (much like the MCA of old, dubbed ‘Music Cemetery of America’). That only steeled the mind of bandleader Johnny Hedlund to make a more vicious album in Midvinterblot. Opener "Blood of Lies” exemplifies their stance of quick death, while "This Is Our World Now” and "In Victory or Defeat” tread on similar ground as Bolt Thrower. "We Must Join with Him” is like mid-paced Obituary, right down to the Allen West-like soloing. "The Avenger” calls upon the god Odin, while "Salvation for Mankind” portends a second coming. The galloping "Psycho Killer” and melodic "The Witch” could be late-career At the Gates, and the Viking anthems "I Have Sworn Allegiance,” "Loyalty and Pride” and "Valhalla Awaits” echo similar statements ranging from 1995’s Victory to 2004’s Sworn Allegiance. With younger bands nipping at their heels, Unleashed remain at the front of the pack with the invigorated and uncompromising Midvinterblot. (SPV)