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Music / Unleashed

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The band around the time of "Where no life dwells."

Unleashed is a Death Metal band from Sweden. Formed in 1989, they are one of the most beloved classic death metal bands emerging in the late 80s/early 90s even to this day. They are known for their unique approach to the genre, an example being vocalist Johnny Hedlund using an almost entirely decipherable shout rather than a deep grunt (although it was harder to understand him on their earlier material, possibly due to the production), as well as their emphasis on catchy riffing rather than full-on brutality. That being said, they are still by all means a death metal act and are still a very heavy band. They are also known for incorporating Viking-themed lyrics in their music while still not being viking metal, as well as their lyrics in general being about various topics that range from fun to storytelling, rarely being about gore/death like most bands in their genre.

Unleashed are one of death metal's longest-running bands, having released 13 studio albums in their career. They continue to go strong to this day, still touring and making music on a regular basis. In the crowded genre of death metal, Unleashed manages to stand out among the rest, and don't seem to be going away any time soon.

The band's 14th album No Sign of Life was released on November 12, 2021.


  • Where No Life Dwells (1991)
  • Shadows in the Deep (1992)
  • Across the Open Sea (1993)
  • Victory (1995)
  • Warrior (1997)
  • Hell's Unleashed (2002)
  • Sworn Allegiance (2004)
  • Midvinterblot (2006)
  • Hammer Battalion (2008)
  • As Yggdrasil Trembles (2010)
  • Odalheim (2012)
  • Dawn of the Nine (2015)
  • The Hunt for White Christ (2018)
  • No Sign of Life (2021)

Unleashed and their music provide examples of:

  • Black Metal: Started experimenting with this a little bit starting with As Yggdrasil Trembles.
  • Concept Album: Each of their albums starting with As Yggdrasil Trembles tell an ongoing story based on an unpublished novel Johnny had sitting around for some time.
  • Cover Version: "Countess Bathory", "Breaking the Law", "Evil Dead", and "Ace of Spades". They also recorded a cover of another Venom song, "Black Metal", but changed the lyrics to "Death Metal". It was intended to be featured on their comeback album Hell's Unleashed in 2002, but it was only released on a promo disc, as they were not given permission to include it on the record.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: While not a major case, their first few albums can be a bit strange sounding for fans who started with their later work, as they are rawer and feature a slightly different vocal style from Johnny, as well as less reliant on viking themes, since they were first introduced on their third album and became a staple of their sound by their fifth. Part of this can be blamed on the fact that their first four records are the only ones without Fredrik Folkare on guitar, who joined the band right after Victory and produced all of their albums but one since.
  • Death Metal: One of the trope codifiers for the Swedish variety, along with Entombed, Dismember, Carnage, and Grave.
  • Drugs Are Bad: "Down Underground", which is about a man who resorted to heroin to cope with his problems and ended up dying from it.
  • Gorn: They rarely sing songs about death or gore, but being a death metal group, they've unsurprisingly done a couple, the most notable being "Your Head is Mine".
  • Heavy Mithril: "Metalheads" and "Death Metal Victory", among a few others.
  • Heavy Meta: "Death Metal Victory" which is the closest we've ever come to a Death Metal arena rock anthem.
  • Horrible Hollywood: Part of the concept behind "Mediawhore".
  • Horrible History Metal. "The Triumph of Genocide" which is about the genocide in Rwanda.
  • I Am the Band: Some would say Johnny Hedlund due to his status as the frontman as well as his sheer size and distinct voice, while some would point to Fredrik Folkare instead due to his unique guitar style, production career, and work with other bands.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Completely averted. Johnny's vocals are nearly always almost 100% crystal clear no matter what, making him perhaps not only one of death metal's most decipherable singers, but possibly extreme metal as a whole.
  • Lead Bassist: In addition to being the front man, Johnny plays bass in addition to performing vocals, and his instantly recognizable vocals and stage presence give him a commanding nature.
  • Long Runner / Long-Runner Line-up: They've had the same lineup since 1997. They are also one of the longest running death metal groups, having released 14 albums and still going strong.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Joy in the Sun", an old-school death metal song about....taking a girl on a date in the summer??
    • Subverted, as the inclusion of the word "formaldehyde" in the chorus implies that the girl is most likely dead.
    • "Down Underground", an upbeat death 'n' roll song about a heroin addict who dies from an overdose.
  • Melodic Death Metal: A significant part of their sound from As Yggdrasil Trembles onward, though they have occasionally flirted with it before.
  • New Sound Album: Quite a few:
    • Across the Open Sea introduced their signature Norse-themed lyrics and was their first and only album to feature the Swedish "buzzsaw" guitar tone, as they tended to stay away from it to distance themselves from their peers.
    • Victory featured slightly simplified songwriting and Johnny's vocals became much clearer.
    • Warrior was more-or-less an attempt at death 'n' roll, a sound which carried over to their comeback album Hell's Unleashed (though not quite to the same extent) and was never revisited again.
    • Sworn Allegiance was a return to their classic sound from the first two albums mixed in with more groove and modern elements, which carried over to Midvinterblot and Hammer Battalion.
    • As Yggdrasil Trembles experimented with blackened death and melodeath to create a more atmospheric sound, which stuck for their two latest albums as well.
    • The Hunt for White Christ is largely a re-return to their classic sound, fused with some of the more melodic and atmospheric elements of their previous 2010s material, while No Sign of Life continues this trend.
  • Pedophile Priest: "In the Name of God" is all about this and is from the perspective of the priest, no less!
  • Signature Style: Expect the signature shouts of Hedlund, heavy yet melodic riffs, thrashy rhythms, and lyrics involving vikings, media, or whatever the hell else they feel like writing about.
  • Take That!: "C.E.O." is one to the exact people as its title implies, and though it doesn't namedrop anyone, many of its lyrics bring Donald Trump to mind, who at the time of the song's release had not yet entered politics full-time and was most famous for his business practices.
  • Vocal Evolution: After their first few albums, Johnny's vocals began to get easier to understand.