While most of their counterparts from the early Swedish death metal scene have either disbanded or churned out some horrible albums, these guys are here to stay. With the opening scream, you know EXACTLY what band you’re listening to, and that is UNLEASHED. The latest offering by these underground warriors follows their battle cry - DEATH METAL, NO COMPROMISE!
After releasing classics in the early 90’s, the band put out a few mediocre albums, and bounced back to top form with their last couple of albums. This album continues in the same vein - both musically and lyrically. It’s no secret that UNLEASHED have made a point about their hatred toward Christianity, and are still talking about the cold winters, war, and the Viking spirit, but that’s also exactly why fans continue to support and appreciate this band.
Although there is nothing innovative or new here, this is true death metal! Johnny Hedlund’s trademark scream begins this ferocious album with “The Greatest of All Lies.” There are a few hit or miss tracks towards the middle of the album, but the title track, “Hammer Battalion,” has the classic, old school feel to it. “Black Horizon” is another standout track, which chugs some memorable riffs and solos, and incidentally makes me want to go on voyage across the sea. “Home of the Brave” is a nice thrashy anthem that gets the head banging and blood flowing. Forget AMON AMARTH, these guys are the true Viking warriors!
While not as catchy as their last album, Midvinterblot or even Sworn Allegiance, Hammer Battalion has plenty of headbanging moments and tasty solos. The high quality that UNLEASHED continues to put forth is what separates these warriors from the flavor-of-the-month metal bands. Songwriting is top notch, as they vary the album from an all out assault on your cranium, to the mid-paced flow that they’re known for. UNLEASHED have come a long way and have progressed nicely without resorting to being the most brutal or most technical, just straight forward, well executed in-your-face death metal. The final track crushes your skull with “I Want You Dead!” Enough said. (SPV Records)