Unleashed – As Yggdrasil Trembles Review

Unleashed // As Yggdrasil Trembles
Rating: 3.0/5.0 —The Manowar of Death Metal strikes again!
Label: Nuclear Blast (EU | US)
Websites: unleashed.se | myspace.com/unleashed
Release Dates: EU: 19.03.2010 | 03.19.2010

Unleashed is not without their appeal. They’ve been around for a couple decades now, putting out their first record Where No Life Dwells in 1991, and they’ve been pretty consistently well-respected in the scene for being among the first to do the whole Viking Metal thing. But they’re a band that this Angry Metal Guy has never been able to get into on the basis of one thing: Unleashed is the Manowar of death metal. Now, some people are going to say “But Manowar are the Kings of Metal! Should we not be praising Unleashed for translating such kinglyness into the Death Metal genre?” To which there can only be one response: “Absofuckinglutely not.”

Like Manowar, Unleashed writes some pretty great metal. Musically, the band produces a melodic form of tear-your-head-off death metal that has been associated with Sweden since the early 1990s. The music is powerful, pummeling and thrashy it makes the listener want to headbang! Like their Swedish brethren Amon Amarth, Unleashed likes trem-picked melodic passages that are littered with good groove and plenty of chances to headbang manically. The guitar solos are wickedly thrashy and, surprisingly enough, the bass is even audible! Musically, there isn’t a song on here that I don’t like! And the record pounds out of the gate with amazing tracks, “Courage Today, Victory Tomorrow”, “So it Begins” and “As Yggdrasil Trembles”.

However, like Manowar, Unleashed has a lyrics problem. This chink in the armor becomes the most obvious when one hits the 4th track on the album “Wir Kapitulieren Niemals”, and Johnny starts screaming “Viking Death Metal!” This is not the first time, or the last time, on this record that there are lyrical issues that stand out and make the listener a little bit embarrassing. This sort of idea that one can write about the meta-aspect of heavy metal is one of the reasons that power metal is considered to be so ridiculously cheesy. How does one take seriously a band that sings about themselves being awesomely metal? And in some ways, its even easier with a band like Lost Horizon or Manowar because they’re wearing loincloths anyway. Unleashed are just a Swedish death metal band cursed with terrible lyrics.

We’ll stop there with our little Manowar comparison, because frankly Unleashed produces way more consistent and interesting music than Manowar ever has. While the latter has a few good songs on every record and then a bunch of shit that litters the side about how metal they are and about how big their “swords” are, the former writes consistent, enjoyable death metal. As Yggdrasil Trembles is par for the Unleashed course, littered with great songs and solid riffs. If you can bring yourself past the silly lyrics, which is often times pretty easy with death metal bands, and you’re a fan of death metal and viking metal, you’ll probably really enjoy this record. Don’t expect to be wowed by their deep interpretations of the Norse myths in reference to our every day, modern life. But then again, when was the last time any metal lyricist wowed you?

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