Unleashed has had a remarkable career. Exploding out of the gates with “Where No Life Dwells” (1991) (reviewed here and recently reissued on vinyl (again)) and “Shadows in the Deep” (1992), the Swedish killers settled into more sustainable mid-tempo groove for “Across the Open Sea” (1993), “Victory” (1995) and “Warrior” (1997). They took a bit of a break after “Warrior”, but came back in 2002 with the half fun, half dreadful “Hell’s Unleashed” which kicked off a string of releases that got better as they went: “Sworn Allegiance” (2004), “Midvinterblot” (2006) and “Hammer Battalion” (2008).
The next album — “As Yggdrasil Trembles” (2010) — switched things up a bit, taking on a slightly black metal feel which carried through on their next two albums, which includes “Odalheim” (2012) and “Dawn of the Nine” (2015).
Anyone familiar with those three albums can attest to the fact that Unleashed are far from done yet. If you’re not familiar, here’s some proof:
“Master of the Ancient Art” from “As Yggdrasil Trembles” (2010)
“Fimbulwinter” from “Odalheim” (2012)
“Welcome Son of Thor” from “Dawn of the Nine” (2015)
“The future headquarters of NWN has been found. The offer was accepted recently and we’ve already begun the process of closing the deal. It’s taken a bit longer than expected, and cost a bit more, but the end result will be better than we had originally planned. This location will provide more than 6000 sq ft of working space for NWN, and enough space to host a retail record store in the front! We are excited to know that we will open our future long-term operational headquarters in just a matter of a few short months. With your continued support, NWN looks to the ever onward and ascendant horizon.”
Century Media have snuck out what appears to be a nice anthology for Infestdead, Dan Swano’s early ’90s death metal project. Remastered by Swano himself (naturally), Satanic Serenades is a 2xLP on 180g wax in a gatefold sleeve adorned in art by Gyula Havancsák (Annihilator,Destruction, Jungle Rot) in both traditional black and limited edition gold (100 copies).
Satanic Serenades starts at $19 on CMDistro.com North America.
Death metal and keyboards are natural enemies, but sometimes they can come together in interesting ways. I thought this playlist would be easy to compile, but finding real death metal with keyboards is tougher than it seems.
Tampa’s Nocturnus is the obvious first step and I went with “Gridzone” from their highly underrated “Thresholds” album.
But where do you go from there? It very quickly devolves into two camps: cheesy wanking over melodic “death metal” (i.e.: Children of Bodom & pals) and big pads under slow, atmospheric sections. I dabbled with The Gathering, Dan Swano’s excellent Moontower project, Edge of Sanity, God Dethroned and a few others to no avail but everything was either way too melodic or surprisingly keyboard-free.
Luckily, Hypocrisy has always made excellent use keys, so even if “The Final Chapter” falls into the “big pads” camp, it’s such a great tune that it hardly matters. Two down, one to go.
For the final track, I tried to find a band from a third country but ended up with more Swedes, this time Cemetary with “Dead Red” from their twisted first album, “An Evil Shade of Grey”.
Didn’t any bands play more traditional death metal with keyboards? Post your suggestions in the comments!
Scion A/V may be corporate marketing scum, but at least they’re pimping some good bands. Hot on the heels of the surprisingly good Enslaved EP comes “Providence”, another free EP, this time from our very own death metal legends, Immolation. Production is right in line with the glorious “Majesty & Decay”, the download is fast and flawless and it even comes with 800×800 artwork. Can’t really ask for more.
I admit to completely overlooking Morbid Angel’sGateways to Annihilation when it came out in 2000. I was probably too busy listening to In Flames’Colony or something equally less-than-good. After Dave’s departure, MA rebounded in 1998 with the Steve Tucker-fronted Formulas Fatal to the Flesh. While Formulas… has certainly improved with age, at the time, it appeared to kick off a downward slide into awfulness. Gateways to Annihilation followed in 2000 with an equal thud and the unbelievably erratic and senseless “Heretic” seemed to seal their fate in 2003 (oh, little did we know what was coming next). While Morbid Angel has certainly wound up at the bottom (“Kill a cop”), neither Formulas… nor Gateways… nor even Heretic are what put them there.
I remember thinking at the time that Formulas… and Gateways to Annihilation lacked any kind of catchiness or groove and barely gave them a listen. I actually dug Heretic more than either of those simply because I could hear some songs going on between all the godawful keyboard nonsense. Long story short, I’ve been rectifying my error the past couple years and am slowly becoming more familiar with both Formulas… and Gateways…
My current feeling is that Formulas… is still very hard to sink into but Gateways… has opened up like a vast sucking void and seems to be revealing a lot of very interesting ideas within all that murk. Tucker’s wet-throated roar is more than just an adequate replacement for Vincent’s (who need I remind the court was sporting dyed black hair and vinyl shirts by this point) and the production somehow manages to be both raw and clear at the same time. The riffs aren’t catchy or anthemic at all and the whole thing strikes me as the swampiest, most atmospheric album in Morbid Angel’s catalog, but it’s nearly complete lack of hooks is exactly what gives it a rather ageless, emotionless, yet somehow still darkly spiritual feel. Little things like the loop of insect noise that runs the entire length of opening track, “Summoning Redemption” may be harbingers of the madness to come, but at this point, the voices in Trey’s head were still working for him.
Still not 100% sure how I feel about it, but it’s finally growing on me after 11 years. Maybe I’ll love it in another 4 just in time for the 15th anniversary.