Attention Odin worshipers and Warriors of Midgard! Unleashed are back with a vengeance, as they take the battle from Odalheim to the lair of the White Christ himself in their epic new release ‘Dawn Of The Nine’. The album is slated to release on April 24th via Nuclear Blast records and promises to be a pure, undiluted Viking Death Metal offering. Thriving in the industry for more than 2 decades backed only by sheer determination, talent and an unstoppable desire to create powerful music, Unleashed have released 11 studio albums with the last one being Odalheim back in 2012. Known for creating epic Viking sagas in their albums, they recently gave us a glimpse of what’s in store for us by releasing a brand new lyric video for the track “Where is your God now?” from the new album.
Gearing up for the release, Metal Wani’s Rakesh Pothengil got a chance to interview the band’s founding member, vocalist/bassist Johnny Hedlund where he talks in detail about the new album, his love for Viking traditions and folklore and much more.
25 years and 11 studio albums later, what are the excitement levels as you release your 12th studio album “Dawn of the Nine”!
I think the storyline of the world of Odalheim is a very interesting one for me as a writer to be able to create stuff never been done before by any man. I think also that our music seems fit to this and we can move on like any other album we ever made in the past which is nice.
Your album is up for pre-order and you also released a lyric video for “Where is your God now?” How has the reaction been so far?
Well all I have seen now is the reaction on the web in some certain forums and for that very song only and I must say it’s been absolutely amazing. So I am very eager to see what our warriors feel about the rest of the album.
Do you plan to release any more tracks from the album before its out?
I think our record company want to do one more before release…not 100% sure though.
Coming back to “Where is your God now?” the song speaks about a challenge to God to come out of hiding and fight. Could you tell us a bit more about this track?
It is pretty much just like that. It is also in the middle of a storyline so there is more to be told before and after off course. In the aftermath of the great battle of Odalheim the Midgard Warriors hunt down White Christ for vengeance and to take back what is rightfully theirs. Land, cities etc. This song is in the middle of that process.
Your albums do have an elaborate and a well written story line. We have also seen some albums taking the story forward of their predecessors like “Odalheim” followed the story after “As Yggdrasil Trembles”. So what is the plot of “Dawn of the Nine” about and does it fit anywhere amongst your older releases in terms of theme or story line?
Yes exactly. It takes over directly after the last song on the previous album. In the aftermath of the great battle the Warriors of Midgard must rise again, and be strong to face the future ordeals and challenges. White Christ is not yet dead and still has power around the world. This album is about the challenge of taking back much of what was lost in Svithiod. (nowadays Sweden and Scandinavia.) And in the end of the album…a new leader takes his rightful place to lead the armies forward.
In terms of songwriting, we can see a shift in your style from your older albums like Warrior and Victory which had a more groovy death metal flavor to it as compared to the more recent ones like Odalheim which clearly has some Blackened Death Metal vibes to it. Even in the song “Where is your god now”, we can hear that Black Metal style of riffs and drumming. What contributed to this shift?
Well I guess we are influenced by everything we listen to in some way. I think of black metal and death metal more like brothers and sisters, or cousins perhaps. There is a thin line in between the two styles. IN the early 90ies I made most of the music so off course there is a difference to now when Fredrik does most of the music. I ‘d like to think that we develop within our own style of music and keep to the roots even when we add some new influences still.
Religion and Mythology play a big role in the theme of Unleashed or for that matter many of the other Nordic Death/Black metal bands. However, many critics feel that this kind of theme has been played out a lot now. Does it bother you or do you think at some point in the future, Unleashed could move on to something different?
I don’t write much about religion and mythology as I see it. I write about the Viking traditions and values. I have some inspirations from the past and our forefathers tales but it is more about a way of life and traditions to me. It is not a religion. Religion however, many times comes in the way of normal life in such terms as politics and so forth, so I become forced to write about our opponents “White Christ” for example. Metal and tradition goes hand in hand since the beginning. Our way of tradition seems very fit to this music and I doubt it will pass any time near soon.
Devin Townsend’s recent interview brought forward the harsh realities of being a metal musician in the music industry and Unleashed has been in the industry for 25 long years now. What have your challenges been and was there any point in your history when you would have thought of quitting or doing something else?
No never. I have realized this long ago, there will be times when you question the number of tours or even the number of albums and such. But it is all about how much and when. Stopping for any reason is not on our menu. We are here to stay and it feels we have only just begun.
You are about to tour Europe starting May 2015. Any particular venue or festival you are really looking forward to?
Well we haven’t booked a full tour yet. We are however very much looking forward to all the summer festivals starting in London in May. I think all the festivals will be just amazing and we are very eager right now to hear what our warriors think of the new album.
Are you aware of the metal scene in India and would you be interested to come visit us any time soon?
Oh hell why not! I have colleagues that have been to India many times. I would love to play there!
Any messages for your die hard Indian fans?
Unleashed are looking forward to hearing what you guys in India have to say about our new album….post some comments on our various sites! Hope to see you on a festival! Hail Odin!