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Sunday Old School: Unleashed

There are some countries where heavy metal is very popular, then there are countries which don't just appreciate heavy music, they contribute to it... heavily. Many fans of the genre will tell you that it was born in England but Germany is its spiritual home, though Scandinavia is where it's very welcome to stay. Indeed, it's not uncommon to see metal bands reach high chart positions in Finland and their neighbours to the west, Sweden, are almost as welcoming, spawning many amazing and important bands of their own, as well as the famous Swedish death metal sound. This tone is often credited as the Gothenburg sound but many of these groups came from the capital city of Stockholm, including today's band, Unleashed.

Unleashed was founded in 1989 by singing bassist, Johnny Hedlund, who had only just been fired from Nihilist, the band that was to become Entombed. He was joined in his endeavour by drummer Anders Schultz and guitarists Robert Sennebäck and Fredrik Lindgren. The former was replaced by Tomas Måsgard pretty quickly and the group set about making their mark by recording the demos, "Revenge" and "Utter Dark." The tapes soon found their way to German label Century Media, who snapped up the band almost immediately, resulting in their 1991 debut full length, "Where No Life Dwells." The record was hailed instantly as a death metal classic and remains one of the most popular albums to emerge from the Swedish metal scene to this day, which helped propel the band's popularity massively, allowing them to tour Europe and the United States with fellow death metal favouites, Morbid Angel.

It didn't take long for Unleashed to succeed their debut, as only a year later, the group released their sophomore effort, "Shadows in the Deep." Once again, it received an extremely positive response and drew even more fans, including a trio who at the time were probably the biggest band in the world, Nirvana, who even covered the song, "Onward into Countless Battles." Speaking of covers, the record itself included an excellent cover of the Venom classic, "Countess Bathory," which was warmly received by fans of both bands.

Once more, they followed up their previous album only the next year, with "Across the Open Sea," which boasted a vivid front cover as well as the song, "The One Insane," which received the music video treatment. The viking influences displayed on the artwork could also be heard on the album itself, making Unleashed one of the first death metal bands to cover the subject

The praise continued to roll in for the group following the release of their fourth album, "Victory," in 1995, which was included in the book, "The 500 Greatest Rock and Metal Albums of All Time," compiled by Rock Hard magazine. It was around this time however that Lindgren had become much more interested in punk than metal music, something which could be heard in his playing on this album especially, which would be his last studio effort with the band before leaving to form Loud Pipes, though he still appeared on the live album, "Eastern Blood, Hail to Poland."

In Lindgren's place came Fredrik Folkare, who made his recording debut with Unleashed on the 1997 album, "Warrior." Though not a bad album by any means, critics were a little less glowing about this record than previous efforts and it marked the beginning of a recording hiatus for the band, which would last for five years while they focused on their personal lives, before the quartet returned in 2002 with a new album, "Hell's Unleashed." Reviews for the album were mixed but nevertheless, people seemed happy to see the band touring and recording once more, until rumours began to circulate that Hedlund was a Nazi sympathiser, an accusation which cost him a place on Dave Grohl's, "Probot" album and one which the vocalist strongly denies.

Near universal praise was granted to the band once more however when they released their seventh album, "Sworn Allegiance" in 2004, which was their last with Century Media before their eighth album, "Midvinterblot," followed in 2006 through SPV Records. The records helped to hammer home the fact that Unleashed were one of their homeland's greatest death metal acts, or indeed best in the genre and they soon embarked on a tour named Masters of Death with fellow Swedes Grave, Entombed and Dismember, which was followed by a headlining tour of North America, where they were joined by Krisiun and Belphegor.

Following their eighth studio album, "Hammer Battalion," in 2008, the group parted company with SPV, signing with another German label, Nuclear Blast, through which they released their next album, "As Yggdrasil Trembles" two years later. The change of label seemed to do the group a world of good, as the subsequent albums, "Odalheim" in 2012 and "Dawn of the Nine" in 2015 have continued to garner positive reviews for one of Sweden's most respected contributions to extreme metal, one which shows no sign of slowing down.

Unleashed - "Before the Creation of Time"

Unleashed - "Onward Into Countless Battles"

Unleashed - "The One Insane"

Unleashed - "In the Name of God"

Unleashed - "Hero of the Land"

Unleashed - "Burnt Alive"

Unleashed - "I Have Sworn Allegiance"

Unleashed - "Black Horizon"

Unleashed - "Were Is Your God Now?"

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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