Unleashed - Dawn of the Nine (Nuclear Blast)

A timely reminder of how great old-school death metal can be...
Release Date: 
23 Apr 2015 - 11:30pm

Sweden’s Unleashed are, in my often not-so-humble opinion, one of death metal’s great treasures. And on Dawn of the Nine, their twelfth full-length album they prove the veracity of that hypothesis over the course of 10 full-bloooded dodsmetal classics, each one of which is fit to take its place at the top table of this band’s venerable canon.

Opening track A New Day Will Rise is a case in point; I can’t remember many more effective first-up blasts in recent years, with bassist/vocalist Johnny Hedlund giving a text-book old school death metal vocal over some frankly incendiary riffage from Tomas Olsson and Fredrik Folkare (who again adds his splendid production skills to the mix as well). The song sets up the concept of Dawn… perfectly, as we journey back to the band’s last outing Odalheim and continue the story set up on that album’s last track, the appropriately-titled The Great Battle of Odalheim. I won’t go too much more deeply into the concept, save that it lends itself perfectly to this collection of bloodthirsty Midgardian narratives. Actually, I couldn’t really give two hoots about the story – when the music is this good everything else becomes secondary, subsumed by the need to thrash manically around the room howling along with Mr Hedlund and crew as he croaks Where is Your God Now? In suitably demonic fashion. This sort of music might be old-fashioned by today’s blast-obsessed core standards, but by god it gets the blood flowing.

Of course there is a fair bit of blasting going on – Anders Schultz is relentlessly impressive behind the kit, as ever – but you get my point. There’s an air of metal classicism about much of what Unleashed do (you know, melody – however off-kilter and skewed, but still recognisably melody – and songs you can sing along to no matter how overtly brutal they might seem) that gives much of their material a timeless air, which to this reviewer’s mind gives them a fair bit of heft in the importance stakes. The Bolt Thrower is a titanic slab of such ‘classic’ metal, it’s eponymous chorus being seemingly spewed into the listener’s consciousness from some time in about 1993 but no less effective for all that, whilst final pairing Dawn of the Nine and Welcome the Son of Thor!, whilst demonstrably still being the work of Unleashed, channel huge slabs of Black Sabbath and Manowar into proceedings with pleasing results.

I could go on, but I think I’ve got the point over effectively enough… The bottom line is, if you’ve enjoyed any death metal over the last decade, then you will devour this album in it’s entirety, and love every minute of it. Timeless death metal brilliance.