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Class 6(66)

Unleashed: Shadows in the deep

25/02/11  ||  Daemonomania

Introduction

Having covered “Where no life dwells” and “Across the open sea”, it only makes sense for ole Daembro to take on the middle album of Unleashed’s early trilogy. Each of these monsters is near and dear to me, so you’ll have to bear with a little hyperbole and overrating throughout each review. The fathers of viking-based death metal were on a fucken roll here, which nobody can deny. So DENY IT NOT. Lean back in your armchair upholstered with the skin of the feeble, slide your hand gently up and down your broadsword, and prepare for a journey deep into the realms of classic Swedeath.

Songwriting

8.5. Right in between the more speedy/doomy template of “Where…” and the death ‘n roll leanings of “Across…”. There are hints of punk and of thrash throughout, but the dominant force is still that early ’90’s formula. Sloooow. More slooooow. Killlkillllkilllblast! Slooooow. You know you love it. Life would not be complete without this era’s stupendous output.

As for individual songs, I’m a bit less interested in the faster ones unless they have a breakdown at the end for juxtaposition’s sake. The most memorable tracks on here are the march-to-war call of “The immortals”, the zippy cover of “Countess Bathory”, the prototype Nordic assault of “Onward…”, and the infectious groove of “Bloodbath”. Beautiful stuff, and you should know them all by heart.

Production

9.5. Sounds pretty wunderbar to me. The production job gives each instrument room, and captures the worm-eaten decay of ZE KING OF GUITAR TONES perfectly. Johnny Boy’s rasp takes center stage (where it belongs), and the bass and drums each get their proper place in the spectrum. Killer job, whoever. Dunno if this was remastered for the reissue with “Across”, but given Century Media’s priorities these days I doubt it.

Guitars

7.5. A riff or two in the faster songs are a bit boring, but for the most part we are talking sweet axemanship. If Scandinavian raiders had these guitarists throwing down the punishment before rushing into battle, their success rate would have been higher. Vikings may have dominated Western Europe. We might all be talking like that crazy fucker from the intro to “Doom of man” by Kaamos right now. How, you ask, would the guitars be electrified in those gloomy days of yore? With mead, with Christian blood, with NEVERENDING HATE!

Vocals

9.5. I am in love with the throat of Johnny Hedlund. I mean that in the most sexual way possible. Duder has the pitch-perfect high growl with plenty of phlegm rattling around in there to give his voice extra venom. His occasional visits to Lower Growltown and the suburbs of Spoken Toughword are superb as well. Not to mention you can understand a large percentage of what he’s screeching about. Amazing talent expertly applied. “Countesssss….. bafffffforrriiiiiiiii!”

Bass

7. Quality work on metal’s most neglected instrument. Thanks to the production Hedlund can be heard, and he makes use of this mistake to kick out the thumps. While there’s no insane Digorgio shit goin’ on, the solidity of low tone performance also cannot be denied.

Drums

7. Easygoing, punky drums that occasionally slide into double bass fury or lock into an awesome groove. The drumwork on “Countess Bathory” is a sloppy pleasure, and the ├╝bergroove of “Bloodbath” would be nothing without ‘em. I feel the drumming is a bit more distinct on the debut and on the next album, but still would like to give kudos to Anders.

Lyrics

7.5. RISE! MY ARMIES! WITH POWER! FROM HELL! Fuck yeah. Chock full of evil festering morbidity and sometimes surprisingly well written content. Aaaand sometimes not…

Try to push us off the way
Here and now is the time to slay
The lowest form of human life
Are fashion wimps with lying eyes

Hate those motherfucken fashion wimps, for real. Their lying eyes tell me they are interested in lovemaking, but their true interests lie in naught but deception and fakery. Best lyrics have gotta be for “Crush the skull” – high Christ-bashing value. The lyric/music combination for “Onward into countless battles” pretty much encapsulates Amon Amarth’s entire career.

Cover art

2. Shitholes in the deep is more like it, am I right fellas? Looks like my anus after three cups of coffee and a bean burrito. IG has the pictures, he’ll show ‘em to you when you subscribe to our website: www.howlinbowels.com. On topic. Of the early Unleashed trilogy, clearly “Across the open sea” is victorious over the pile of purple debut and this fudge tunnel embarrassment. Axel Hermann, you’re fired.

Logo

6.5. An excellent logo wasted by using some ooky yellow color and plastering it onto the top of a weaksauce cave. Loki grins sadistically, though the spiderwebbed power of this iconic image cannot be totally overcome by the forces of chicanery and poor artwork.

Booklet

Got this as a two-fer with “Across…”, so whatever I said about that one – go ahead and apply it to this one.

Overall and ending rant

Shame on you for not having this already. What, you do have this already? Well then… may Odin and Thor and Wayne Gretzky descend from Valhalla and grant you rippling muscles and a hammer made of solid gold. For those not currently flexing and swinging, you now have a mission. Go forth. Visit your local record shop or Century Media’s website or Amazon.com or something. Pick up all three of these early Unleashed studio albums. Be cool, for once in your fucken worthless life.

8,5

  • Information
  • Released: 1992
  • Label: Century “We Used to be Awesome” Media
  • Website: www.unleashed.se
  • Band
  • Johnny Hedlund: vocals, bass
  • Fredrik Lindgren: guitars
  • Tomas Olsson: guitars
  • Anders Schultz: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. The Final Silence
  • 02. The Immortals
  • 03. A Life Beyond
  • 04. Shadows In The Deep
  • 05. Countess Bathory
  • 06. Never Ending Hate
  • 07. Onward Into Countless Battles
  • 08. Crush The Skull
  • 09. Bloodbath
  • 10. Land Of Ice