Death Metal Underground

Unleashed – Odalheim

by Brett Stevens
April 29, 2014 –

unleashed-odalheim

The most recent album from Unleashed, Odalheim, is simultaneously the best and worst of days for this band. On the plus side, Unleashed have improved at editing down their material so it all flows smoothly and doesn’t ramble. On the downside, the band have adopted a style that is equal parts Dissection and The Haunted, which makes for an almost satisfying heavy metal experience ruined by kiddie rock band style antics on the level of nu-metal.

Let us be honest: djent is nu-metal for people who like jazz fusion. It’s slightly more subtle. The djent influence filtered into metal through The Haunted after At the Gates (just down the street from Meshuggah, who are the progenitors of djent). When metalcore came about with The Haunted, it wrapped djent, math rock, and melodic speed metal into one package. The result is a binary rotation between some really excellent heavy metal riffing with melody and the kind of bouncy daycare-sensibility music that made speed metal get dumb and wrecked death metal wherever it appeared.

People who need lots of internal rhythm of a similar sort to keep their interest are dumb. This is why we laugh at bands who overplay their drums in an attempt to conceal basically boring songs. If it sucks, just add lots of internal syncopation and delay your final beats just a sixteenth past audience expectation. It’s like Pavlovian terriers watching the mailman arrive. This part of this album is dumb. There is no other word for it, thus this is the best term: dumb. Repetition disguised as surprise. Only for idiots.

Odalheim is thus the album we wish Unleashed had made years ago. Tight, efficient and beautiful. If Shadows in the Deep had been more balanced, it might rise to this level of clean impact; if Where No Life Dwells had this amount of melody, we might find it mesmerizing. However, the glitch is that this album is barely death metal, but more like a mix between melodic heavy metal and bounce-metal, itself a proxy for nu-metal.

Albums like Odalheim are why black metal railed against trends: no mosh, no core, no fun, no trends. Odalheim obediently chases the late black metal trend, the melodicy heavy metal trend, the metalcore trend and the djent trend. These musicians do a great job of linking them all together, but the end result is like soup made by tossing every ingredient in your fridge into a pot of boiling water: muddled, disgusting.

That means that, while I can admire aspects of this album, I never want to hear it again. The dumb parts drown out the melodic material and the lack of definitive style obliterates its efficiency. There is almost nothing communicated here, only a background mood composed of beauty and bounce. It repeats itself. Nothing changes. Like heat death in a crowded room, Odalheim slowly dominates by repetition. And then? And then there is no will to resist. Nor to enjoy.

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12 comments

    1. eman

      @ 6:54 dat chug. The chorus of that song sounds like Dethklok. As someone unfamiliar with all Unleashed besides Where No Life Dwells, this physically pains me. Ten minutes into it and I can’t stomach anymore. I admire the resolve of anyone who does, but take the reviewer’s word for it: Avoid. I can say with a straight face that this is at the level of The Black Dahlia Murder “Ritual”, maybe even a little less entertaining.

      1. trystero

        You are a brave man. I made it to 0:22 then I heard something which could have been copy-pasted from a billion turdbands since Slaughter of the Soul. Then again, that has always been this bands problem, songs sound like they have been cut and pasted from whatever is rockin` at the moment (while songwriting/storytelling remains superior). Even the first two albums suffer from this. It sounds generic.

        1. eman

          It seems a little harsh to call WNLD generic if you compare them to other local bands that put out albums at the same time; Carnage, Entombed. I’m not all that well-versed in the Swedish school of DM so maybe I’m wrong and have only been exposed to a handful of stand-out bands. WNLD is really solid all the way through, having not one serious flaw, but I guess you could argue that it is not as innovative as- what?

          1. trystero

            Just talking about the sound, tends to be bog standard (sounding) stuff. Like I said the actual songwriting can be great. Even this album is superior to its contemporaries. From a distance any Unleashed is boring sounding.

            1. eman

              Hmm. Still not sure what you mean. I guess you refer to the guitar balance or the drum tone or vocals? Evidently you hear something familiar in the music that I am missing.

              1. trystero

                I mean the riffs, especially `filler` stuff and yes I suppose guitar tone and technique. For the first two its quite heavily nwobhm and hardcore derived (i.e. the same as the popular speed metal of the era, even though the end result is strong death metal), they wear their influences on their sleeve. In this album they replace those with the newer worse sounding stuff. I hope thats clearer.

                1. eman

                  Yes I understand much better now. If yours is an accurate perspective, then we are really saying that Unleashed never was anything more than an aggregate of contemporary influences, for better or worse. For better, back then, but now, for worse.

  • Nito

    Wow, this is bad. It’s almost shocking how this band sounds like a metalcore band from the states now. The singer should just try to get Nihilist reformed with the other guys and play reunion shows.

  • Lord Mosher

    Had the band toned down the djent and metalcore elements that feel awkward and embarrasing, this album would’ve been an excellent heavy metal experience. There are moments on each song that are rather cool and exciting.

    1. Richard Head

      If by “toned down” you mean removed completely, then yeah, this album would have been an amusing 45 seconds of riffage.

  • Nester

    They never were great or anything. Their first few albums are better than the rest, but even those are only two notches above average.