Unleashed has been around forever, well, for a death metal band anyway. “Odalheim” is their eleventh album. Their first album was released 21 years ago, and I first heard Unleashed 19 years ago in 1993, when I picked up their third album, “Across the Open Sea.” Man, time certainly flies; I cannot believe it has been that long. It is pretty impressive that after 20+ years extreme metal is still going strong.
Unleashed plays a style of death metal that is at times melodic and tempered with elements of Nordic black and Viking metal. The music is probably more evolved from blackened thrash than death metal, but the vocals, at least, are harsh in a death metal style. The last few Unleashed albums have had a definite Nordic/Viking slant to them, and “Odalheim” is no exception.
The production on this latest opus sounds very suitable for the style. The guitars are clear and crisp, allowing the listener to hear all the intricacies of the guitar riffs as they go flying by. The vocals are seated nicely on top of the mix where you can hear them easily, yet still pick out the music if that is what you prefer. The drums are maybe a little thin sounding, but I do not think thick, thundering drums are totally appropriate for these songs anyway.
“Odalheim”, like the rest of the Unleashed catalog, does not try to impress with lots of extra gimmicky synths or symphonic atmospheric elements. These songs are stripped down to the bare metal essentials and will impress the listener with their technical skill and intensity rather than flash and filler. I like Viking metal that includes all that extra filler, but I also very much enjoy this style.
Not surprisingly, I can heartily recommend “Odalheim” to existing fans of Unleashed or those who might have an interest in getting to know this veteran band. Check out the lyric video for the album’s title track below.