Unleashed - Midvinterblot
SPV
Death Metal
15 songs (46'27")
Release year: 2006
Unleashed, SPV
Reviewed by Alex

At the end of ’04 one of the younger reviewers on the MR staff uttered that old school Swedish death metal was a joke. I really wanted to put the guy in his place, but had very little ammunition to do so. Even though I liked Dismember’s Where Ironcrosses Grow many felt that the band was feeling their way back after a 4 year break. My opponent’s main case, however, rested on Grave (Fiendish Regression) and Unleashed (Sworn Allegiance) coming up with sub-par albums. The worst part was that deep in my heart I felt he was right.

Only two years were needed for the veterans to right the ship (the Viking longship in the case of Unleashed). Dismember blew the hinges off with The God That Never Was, and I am yet to witness Grave’s As Rapture Comes. The purpose of this review, Midvinterblot, finds Unleashed not reinventing themselves, but plugging into the unknown newfound force field which recharged their batteries. Interestingly enough, Dismember and Unleashed are doing it with the new labels, and only Grave is sticking with Century Media.

Unleashed was not about to search for a new identity with Midvinterblot. Reaching only inside themselves, Johnny Hedlund & Crew created another set of E-chords driven razor sharp barbed wire death metal rockers. I could stop my review right there as these are the only superlatives those who have come to know and love Unleashed need. However, you would probably want me to elaborate on a few of these songs.

The band savagely rips into the album with Blood of Lies destined to become a single. Thrashing hard with Blood of Lies and This is Our World Now, the band creates a pair of melodic and catchy openers. We Must Join with Him is more of a headbanging trip, periodically bursting with speed runs. The opening salvo hits hard, and only slows down for the heaviest and grooviest title track, which riffs, along with the aforementioned We Must Join with Him, remind us all that the title of ACDC of death metal is given away to Unleashed for a reason.

There are really no surprises on the album, but it is superbly well done and bursting with energy at the seams. If the band decides to thrash, they do it intensely (Salvation for Mankind, Psycho Killer, I Have Sworn Allegiance). Often Unleashed goes for the muscle verse and faster blastbeat flying melodic chorus. In The Avenger they worship Odin and crush the listener with a mid-song break on New Dawn Rising. Just about every song has a lead, be it the Saber Dance finger tap on Blood of Lies and drony Entombed tribute in Psycho Killer, or more melodic fleeting gliding moments on Triumph or Genocide and Age of the Warrior. Johnny’s voice is fantastically legible, you would not need a lyrics booklet, and there are certainly no deep “enigmatic” riddles in Unleashed lyrics to begin with.

With fifteen total songs some may scream “filler”. With no song exceeding 4 min, Unleashed trademark, these are short attacks, not intended to strain your attention span. Coming out quickly, like bullets from the holster, they simply roll at you, one after another, and you are not really counting. For me personally, I could have done without Age of the Warrior, New Dawn Rising and Loyalty and Pride. Not that these are weak songs, but after the “shock and awe” of the opening 4-song block the end feels more like firecrackers. Fortunately, the album ends on a triumphant note, Valhalla Awaits finally marching us on to victory manly guitar fills spread over staunch riffs.

Not as epic as Amon Amarth, and definitely as melodic as anything that came out of Gothenborg in the 90s, neither would be possible without Unleashed shrouding influence. Celebrating Viking roots in death metal – Unleashed were the first to do so. Their predictability is their strength. If you are not necessarily looking for 100mph shredding and blastbeats with your death metal, you will love Midvinterblot on attitude and sound alone.

Killing Songs :
Blood of Lies, This is Our World Now, We Must Join with Him, Midvinterblot, The Avenger, Psycho Killer, Valhalla Awaits
Alex quoted 87 / 100
Other albums by Unleashed that we have reviewed:
Unleashed - Hammer Battalion reviewed by Alex and quoted 89 / 100
Unleashed - Sworn Allegiance reviewed by Jack and quoted 40 / 100
Unleashed - Hell's Unleashed reviewed by Alex and quoted 82 / 100
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