Review – Unleashed – Across the Open Sea

Sound – Originally hailing from Kungsängen, Unleashed have established a solid reputation as one of the leading groups in the Swedish Death Metal scene. Exclusive use of B standard tuning gives ‘Across The Open Sea’ a dark, heavy and crushing atmosphere . The album is littered with fast tremolo-picked guitar riffs but there are some slower, more groove based. ‘To Asgard We Fly’ is a great example of the speed and galloping riffs that Unleashed execute so well. The production of this album is not as sharp as their more recent releases although it still captures the rawness and abrasive textures very well. Acoustic guitars and a haunting keyboard effect are also used in the title track (‘Across the Open Sea’) which adds a nice variety to the record and keeps the album interesting. Unlike a lot of metal albums, the bass guitar gets a good volume on this record which makes the sound a little more interesting. Drumming is quite solid but not a huge stand out. Overall, ‘Across the Open Sea’ provides a pretty decent sound that could have been boosted by a more refined production and some more thoughtful guitar tones. 7/10

Lyrics and Vocals – Unleashed bring a number of interesting themes to the table that fit well with the music and Jonnhy Hedlund’s deep vocal style. Themes include Viking culture and mythology (‘To Asgard We Fly’ + ‘In the Northern Lands’), war (‘Captured’ + ‘The General’), fear (‘Open Wide’) and a mocking of Christianity (‘I am God’). While the sound is heavy and punishing, the lyrical themes can be interpreted as a celebration of Viking culture and the ideals of a pre-Christian world. These themes are not all the album has to offer though. In ‘The One Insane’, Hedlund takes on the personality of a psychopath and describes how it might feel to suffer from insomnia. Hedlund’s vocal delivery is usually forced out as a deep growl although he makes use of some higher screams on occasion. The vocals are fairly raspy although most words can still be understood over the chaotic musical backdrop. Solid, refined and effective.8/10

Impression – ‘Across the Open Sea’ is not Unleashed’s most highly revered album although it still stands as a strong record in its own right. There are a whole bunch of killer riffs and interesting lyrics, which are both complemented by good song-writing. Perhaps the only low point was the Judas Priest cover, Hedlund’s vocals just don’t seem to fit well at all and we are left with a pretty strange song. Besides this mishap, ‘Across the Open Sea” still provides the listener with some great moments and displays a number of riffs and techniques would be used as a sonic blueprint for tons of death metal bands to come. 8/10

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