UNLEASHED - Odalheim Gatefold LP (Red/White/Black Splatter vinyl)

UNLEASHED - Odalheim Gatefold LP (Red/White/Black Splatter vinyl)

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The Megadeth of Swedish death metal have returned with their 11th full-length album. Unleashed have been churning out Viking-themed death metal goodness for over two decades, and back in April Odalheim became the newest addition to one of the great legacies in the genre.

Something I've always liked about Unleashed is that they don't sound like any other member of the Swedeath royal family. Rather than the chunky buzzsaw guitar, their riffs have always sounded sharp, cutting, and cold. It's like they somehow capture the frozen hostility of black metal without actually sounding anything like a black metal band. I don't know how to explain this phenomenon, but what I do know is that it's in full effect on Odalheim. This is the coldest sounding death metal record I think I've ever heard. The riffs rip through the winter landscape with a frenzied energy matched only by the blistering leads. Galloping drums propel every track forward relentlessly. And Hedlund's hateful bellows blast the listener with a ferocity most imitators can only dream of attaining.

Beyond the energy and aggression, though, is a level of practiced mastery. These guys have been doing this for so long that they know exactly what they're doing and exactly how to do it. On this record, rather than the re-hash of familiar territory that so many veteran records become, the band sound like they've put all those years of lessons to use in creating something even better than its predecessors. Basically this sounds like a culmination rather than a derivation. It's amazing to say this about a band that has been around for so long, but I honestly believe this is the best record Unleashed have ever released.

This band could sleep through an album and produce better material than 90% of the death metal bands out there. Instead, they really poured themselves into it and they have created a staggeringly brilliant record. Savage, cold, and powerful death metal done perfectly by one of the genre's true masters.

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