This album is hardly new. Hell, it’s not even the most recent album that Unleashed has put out. However, I’m constantly reminded that what actually falls in the genre of metal is something of a mystery to a lot of people, and when I try and think of a good album for people to use to transition into metal, this comes to mind.
Categorically, Unleashed falls into the blackened death subgenre. As one might guess, it incorporates parts of the death metal and black metal styles, which can be especially difficult to get into even for fans of other metal genres. However, the melody is almost always distinct enough from the rest of the song that it does not (or shouldn’t) have the cacophonous ‘wall of sound’ effect that a lot of bands in both the black and death metal genres intentionally achieve. While not necessarily a good quality in itself, I do enjoy it and find that others that do not identify as metal fans are at least slightly more open to Unleashed for this reason. Secondly, the vocals, while maintaining the distinct roughness that has become trademark of rock and its subgenres in general, are much, much, MUCH easier to understand than a typical black or death metal band. The singer somehow manages to capture the demonic energy that is characteristic of both subgenres and still enunciate. Watch out.
If nothing else, the band (quite possibly unintentionally) reaches out to people that may not be fans of black/death metal, or metal at all. The Mjollnir featured on the cover art for this album and the title of Midvinterblot (Mid-winter’s feast – the pagan holiday from which many Christmas traditions are taken), one can guess that a few power/folk metal fans may have picked this album up out of curiosity. Even then, I’ve tried on multiple occasions (and even succeeded on some!) to turn people on to the more intense subgenres of metal by showing them the song We Must Join with Him. The lyrics, sung quite clearly, are about The Lord of the Rings, written from Saruman’s perspective. I’ve hooked at least two people with the resounding chorus:
“We must join with him,
We must join with Sauron,
Or we have chosen death!”
This album is worth a listen whether or not you’re already a black/death metal fan. It may be a bit of a jump if you’re not a fan of metal at all, but I’d never suggest someone not listen to this album.