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Unleashed: Sworn allegiance

20/04/12  ||  BamaHammer

In my opinion, Unleashed has always been a by-the-book Swedish death metal band that does no particular thing better than anyone else. Well, other than design a logo. That thing is badass. But nothing they do musically could possibly be described as exceptional in any way. If they were an employee at Initech, the Bobs would definitely ask them, “What do you say you do here”, and they probably would have a hard time giving a good answer. I HAVE PEOPLE SKILLS!

Make no mistake, this is an important band. There haven’t been very many Swedish death metal bands who have had as much of impact on the scene as Unleashed have, but sadly their glory days lasted only a short while and were eons ago. They’ve been in the same perpetual rut for 20 years now, and they just continue to play it safe and release generally the same album about every two years like clockwork.

My first experience with Unleashed was actually this album, 2004’s “Sworn allegiance”. I remember wanting to like it so badly when I first saw it, likely because of the kickass logo and the band’s history that I’d read about. It just seemed like something I would dig. I tried and tried to like it, but just couldn’t bring myself to overcome the boredom that the album always manages to bring about. That’s not to say there are no enjoyable moments (the first couple of tracks are acceptable), but “Sworn allegiance” is just not very memorable or enjoyable, and I’d say it ranks somewhere between a disappointing letdown and an outright failure.

Everything sounds like golden-age Swedish death metal. The guitar tone is there. The riff and rhythm styles are there. Johnny Hedlund’s growl is decent. It just doesn’t offer anything that remotely entices you to raise your eyebrows and say to yourself, “Let’s hear that one again”. It’s just simple, by-the-numbers death metal from a band that you know is was capable of better.

The lyrical fare is particularly weak. There seems to be too wide of a variety of themes for the album to create any semblance of identity. One minute we’re thinking about orcs and Tolkien and the next we’re providing a social commentary with the literary eloquence of a bad early ’80s punk band. I remember listening to this one and just being confused as to what they were trying to do. What was this supposed to be? What were they trying to get across? Was it about the music? Was it about society? Was it about Isengard? I have no fucken idea.

Ultimately, “Sworn allegiance” provides fourteen (four-fuck-teen!) tracks of boring death metal that has no real identity whatsoever. Thankfully, I managed to get around to finding “Where no life dwells” and “Shadows in the deep” so that Unleashed could be revered properly, at least revered properly in my own mind. However, after hearing those albums, I have a hard time believing the same band gave us this. It’s not terrible, but it’s very disappointing.

5,5

  • Information
  • Released: 2004
  • Label: Century Media
  • Website: www.unleashed.se
  • Band
  • Johnny Hedlund: vocals, bass
  • Tomas Olsson: guitars
  • Fredrik Folkare: guitars
  • Anders Schultz: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Winterland
  • 02. Destruction (of the Race of Men)
  • 03. Only the Dead
  • 04. The Longships Are Coming
  • 05. Helljoy
  • 06. Insane for Blood
  • 07. I Bring You Death
  • 08. Attack!
  • 09. CEO
  • 010. One Night in Nazareth
  • 011. Praised Be the Lord
  • 012. Metalheads
  • 013. To MiklagĂ„rd
  • 014. Long Live the Beast