Unleashed – Before the Creation of Time (2024)

Before the moniker Goat found me, friends called me Sven because after a few bonghits my conversation tended toward praise of Swedish death metal. The Swedes perfected death metal, working in melody as structure and turning rhythm into a primitive but nuanced weapon.

Unleashed — like Therion, Carnage, At the Gates, Necrophobic, Hypocrisy, Nihilist, and Merciless — laid the groundwork for a new vocabulary of death metal songwriting and the moods required to perceive the world in order to conceptualize mythopoetic atavism from horror, folkloric, and Romantic literature tropes.

This compilation of Unleashed demos, compilation, and seven inch tracks shows the evolution of this band in two ways: first, the development of layered rhythms, and second, the transition of guitar from bluesy noodling with assloads of accidentals to little melodic compositions that harmonized the pattern of the song like another layer of rhythm tracking.

Hearing this band seize the day and slash out their raw vision, then refine it to the point where it grew its own voice and finally, its own toolbox of expressive insights into composition, makes this compilation worth it, but it also provides early Unleashed with a bassy and rudimentary production that lets the music speak louder than the surface.

The label says:

Formed in 1989 after Johnny Hedlund was kicked out of NIHILIST (who split up and reformed as ENTOMBED to avoid firing him directly), UNLEASHED are credited to be one of the first death metal groups to write songs about Viking/Scandinavian history and heritage instead of the more typical subjects like death and gore.

Since those times UNLEASHED have counted as one of the leading acts of the Scandinavian death metal scene.

On this compilation you can find every song the band recorded before their classic debut album Where No Life Dwells from 1991!

It includes “The Utter Dark” (3 songs), “…Revenge” (3 songs) and the complete Bielefeld recording session (7 songs) which contains songs from the And The Laughter Has Died… 7″ EP, the Century Media Promo Tape and songs from the Century Media compilation In The Eyes Of Death.

A long in-depth interview with Johnny Hedlund held especially and exclusive for this compilation is also included. All songs have been carefully restored and remastered by Patrick W. Engel at the Temple of Disharmony studio.

Jewel-case CD, 16-page booklet

1. The Dark One (The Utter Dark)
2. Ancient Dead (The Utter Dark)
3. Violent Ecstacy (The Utter Dark)
4. The Utterdark Revenge (…Revenge)
5. Unleashed (…Revenge)
6. Where Life Ends (…Revenge)
7. The Dark One (Bielefeld session)
8. If They Had Eyes (Bielefeld session)
9. Dead Forever (Bielefeld session)
10. Unleashed (Bielefeld session)
11. Where Life Ends (Bielefeld session)
12. The Utterdark Revenge (Bielefeld session)
13. Violent Ecstacy (Bielefeld session)

You can pre-order the CD here.

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61 thoughts on “Unleashed – Before the Creation of Time (2024)”

  1. Klainmain91 _ says:

    The thing with swedeath ( & black ) of the nineties is it was maniacally basic. I mean, how much meat and potatoes can one have before givin’ up on it? Sounds hyperbole, but l think they played rather intentionally with typification. The heights of Bathory weren’t again reached, especially Forsberg’s ability to deride what he needed from anywhere his appetite lead him, and turn those entirely of his own and new. That aside, l pick out A.t.G.’s debut and Therion’s 2nd & 3rd.

    1. Spurspright says:

      How is Left Hand Path (the song) or Override of the Overture basic? Explain yourself

      1. Primitive elements in complex constructions = the metal method.

        1. Klainmain91 _ says:

          Might often been the other way around, like, lots of very beautiful stuff adjacent on just straight lines. Brings melody, but doesn’t ride it. Offers delicious bestial/masculine power, but aren’t it. Bit like guessing what this must be, then describe, versus become.

          1. There is complexity in the mental state and thought that produces it, but the end result aims to be effective with minimalism, yet fit together into discursive structures.

    2. Linda says:

      Swedish Death had two things wrong with their sound. Either their riffs were too sweet/melodic sounding, or their riffs were too simplistically primitive that the albums were boring. I guess the exception would be early At the Gates. I prefer the Finns. Amorphis/Abhorrence, Demigod, Demilich, Adramelech, Sentenced did it better.

      1. Klainmain91 _ says:

        AtG toyed dangerously close to the peaceville three emo metal in the opening ep, then sped up to a new classical triumph on tRitSiO. I’d add Belial too for the Finns. And l’ve spun Psychostasia times twice as near entire swe death catalog.

        1. Belial is worth hearing, but for Swedish-ish metal from Finland, you nailed it by mentioning Sentenced, Amorphis, and Demigod.

          1. Linda says:

            Yes, Sentenced has a very Swedish melodic sound. I’d put them there with Sacramentum as great Scandinavian metal! I may like Sacramentum a little more since they have more albums that I enjoy!

      2. Warkvlt is High IQ Music says:

        This is 100% my opinion only I could never get into Demigod for the simple reason that it sounded too “Swedish” so to say. I would also add Cadaver (NOR) above everything Sweden ever produced (almost).

        1. That second Cadaver, and the first Intestine Baalism, are great.

    3. Lots of great Swedish death:

      1. Necrophobic The Nocturnal Silence
      2. Carnage Dark Recollections + Dismember demos
      3. Nihilist demos
      4. Bathory Hammerheart is not quite death but worth mentioning
      5. Merciless The Awakening is not quite death but worth mentioning
      6. Therion …Of Darkness && Beyond Sanctorum
      7. At the Gates The Red in the Sky is Ours and Gardens of Grief
      8. Carbonized For the Security
      9. Hypocrisy Penetralia, Osculum Obscenum, plus EPs
      10. Unanimated In the Forest of the Dreaming Dead
      11. Cemetary An Evil Shade of Grey
      12. Unleashed Where No Life Dwells and Shadows in the Deep

      Hard to go wrong with these.

      1. Internet fan says:

        You should make a tier list, that’s popular these days. There’s probably a tier list maker somewhere on the Internet.

        1. Eh, you know that me and anything “popular these days” are about as useful a combination as ice cream and sewage.

      2. Klainmain91 _ says:

        Hammerheart now, though not innovative as his former 4, is a man on a mission. A call to arms of all who want to hear it, others are more for participation, yet much in style.

        1. My feeling on later Bathory is that he tried to address as many possibilities as he could without having them fully fleshed out. Even Twilight of the Gods is a masterpiece, even if it of heavy metal and designed to be a rock opera.

      3. are you shopping at ikea says:

        The demo compilation from Necrophobic is a good one too.

      4. Linda says:

        I like them, I just prefer Finnish Death metal.

        1. Hard to argue with this either. There are probably fifty works of relevance in death metal that should endure and be played constantly where the ley lines meet.

    4. Friedrich II says:

      Not to mention Swedish Black Metal.
      Silencer? Marduk? Watain? Easy-peasy.
      Nifelheim? Dark Funeral? All sounds like anime songs to me, so annoying.
      Shining and Tribulation are not even metal, not even bands, just empty cardboxes stinking of childishness.
      Even Dissection were not the cream of the crop: probably you could have a very stong EP, maybe a LP, picking songs from the whole discography (but poseurs like Dissection t-shirts, they don’t even listen to them and we are doomed).

      Still, Sacramentum is a view not to be missed.

      1. gesualdus says:

        Thy Immortal and Eucharist too

        1. T Malm says:

          I can’t find any info on Thy Immortal, care to elaborate?

      2. 123478 says:

        There’s also Setherial, Ophthalamia, Naglfar and Lord Belial. Surely I’m missing several more bands who participated in the second wave, perhaps of varying quality but I’d say being Bathory’s country of origin there’s got to be some black metal footnotes at least.

        1. I enjoy Setherial and Eucharist.

          1. 123478/gesualdus says:

            A Hail to the Faceless Angels is one of the few black metal releases I can say I jammed since my teens. I was forgetting to mention Dawn as well, was just listening to Slaughtersun before bed last night. Greece and Norway seem to have the more famous black metal bands but Sweden is not that far behind.

            1. Dawn was the Niden Div 187 guys?

              1. 123478/gesualdus says:

                I actually never knew about that band until now

                1. I always thought the Zyklon-B release should be re-issued in a split with Niden Div 187 and Belial.

                  1. PsychicPsychToad says:

                    And the first 7 songs of Ugra Karma.

                    1. If it has become a compilation, let’s throw in some Sarcofago and Blasphemy too! Also note that Quorthon was on top of this trend with his late-90s Bathory stuff like Octagon.

        2. Friedrich II says:

          You all are probably right. Still, I’ve listed the most famous BM bands from Sweden: the most famous bands form Norway (early Ancient, Burzum, Immortal et cetera) make the qualities of the best-known Swede pale by comparison, that’s what I’m thinking. I’ll try to listen to Eucharist, thanks.

          1. 12345678/gesualdo/qp98wefais keeps forgetting usernames says:

            Their scene was more death metal, same with Finland. Both countries had a good number of bands but many seem to have arrived later due to being younger

            1. Interesting how these cycles are economic too. In Germany for example speed metal was dominant while death metal was rising, so most Germans only paid attention to death/black ten years later. In the USA, when black metal was rising, death metal had just hit public consciousness, so the USA ended up with Demoncy, Profanatica, Averse Sefira, and a handful of others but the vast majority of its black metal input was warmed-over heavy metal and death metal influenced by Dissection and Cradle of Filth.

              1. 12345678 says:

                Wasn’t Absu also part of USBM as well? It’s interesting how the lineages resemble taxonomy or perhaps even the periodic table. Nowadays it seems like dungeon synth has combined with techno and black metal to make keller synth. Someone also mentioned a death metal band that sounded entirely electronic in an earlier article here. Things seem to converge a lot of the time and that’s when latecomers can aspire to make something new for themselves except I notice a trend in age: 26 seems to be cutoff for releasing something “true” and it doesn’t seem to only apply to metal. Convergence more likely leads to hybridization which will often sound bad but by understanding and developing certain principles that bands like Slaughter or Discharge had eventually Morbid Angel arose and with that same principle + a bit of punk sensibility came Swedeath; which too often reminds me of an inverse case with the hardcore band Especimen, it has a metal accent the way that Dismember have a punk/grind accent but play metal.

                1. Absu started out as a death metal band, and their best album still has that lineage… later they tried to be Mercyful Fate. I am not even sure that they are black metal in any way other than the Dissection way, which is pure aesthetics.

                  1. Lunge To The Maximum Spread Eagle To The Wall says:

                    The “black metal” Absu oozes pure homosexuality from the logo, font choice of album title to the crimped permed hair, skirts and zany high pitched squeals of rectal pleasure from the drummer that wears pink leather jackets and has a Resident Evil 2 haircut. One couldn’t resist the urge to get fake tits, Judas Priest only wishes they were this gay at their gayest (Leather Rebel, You Say Yes, Eat Me Alive). I have also thought of a good Anal Cunt song title “The Only Reason You Like Absu Is Because You’re From Texas”.

                    1. I enjoyed some of their heavy metal styled albums from the 1990s but after they finally went full Mercyful Fate at some point, I went back and found that only the first album really appeals to my listening at this point. USA did not really do black metal very well, nor did Germany. Must be a WW2 thing. Japan and Italy sucked at it too.

                    2. Trannyscendental metal says:

                      I recently discovered this re-release of Third Storm of Cythraul with restored drums. You’ve probably noticed the bass drum is strangely absent half the time on the original release.


                      I think Absu is (was?) Mercyful Fate and Slayer with 90s death metal drumming. Not very original but enjoyable if you can get past the homosexual vocals.

      3. Sacramentum and Bathory are great.

        Dissection is basically heavy metal with a black metal mood.

        1. Hessian Murderer of Black Death says:

          Which is not the reason that it isn’t great. Heavy metal can be good regardless of how you paint it. Dissection is below Bathory and Sacramentum because its songs aren’t as cohesive and thus not as powerful. Dissection has great moments, but does not arrange them into great tracks.

          1. Death metal is a different riff vocabulary and grammar.

  2. Klainmain91 _ says:

    They’re less advanced than you’d expect after 25 years of guitar music, especially the metal milestones of the ’80s. Had l have been around in 1990 and you tossed me a recording of Freezing Moon ( the opening shot of norse b.m. & a template for much of the genre ), l’d take it as a “now that’s worth blowing my brains or sb else’s out!”. It’s like pitting speed king against child in time..

  3. Klainmain91 _ says:

    .. as in, being offered what is perceived will be liked by an opposite party is, utterly, not the same as presented with the figure in itself and its dimensions. I’d totally seal every exit and turn all inside into monuments of praise to these two records you mention, had they somehow been blasted during a nightmare stroll at IKEA, just would be another tier if that pale goth weirdo crawling underground as janitor or stockboy participated as my accomplice.

  4. Klainmain91 _ says:

    A freaked out ADD mallrat a summer or two away from getting employed there would do too. Dispose yourself, and everyone you ( don’t ) know..!

  5. Romantic Warrior says:

    For anyone still willing to believe, the new Master is great

  6. qp98wefais says:

    To me that there was ever even a death metal scene is mindblowing. Today even thinking in a way that would conduce to writing music that innovates in the way the Nihilist/Carnage guys thought would get you ostracized and possibly put on medication. Good for them that they did it.

    1. Everything always gets worse! There was a major shift in the late 1990s where the new egalitarianism took over and everything fell apart.

      1. qp98wefais says:

        People just don’t get along well enough

        1. Maybe. In my view, the getting along is the easy part… the deciding what to do is the hard part, and everyone punts, so you end up with a lowest common denominator.

          1. 12345678/gesualdo/qp98wefais keeps forgetting usernames says:

            To answer on the black metal conversation: I’ll take that re-issue with Zyklon-B, Belial and Niden Div. 187 over Lamb of God forsure. I don’t really listen to black metal very often but the genre has its good songs. Do please recommend a Belial record.

            Sure, finding like-minded people is not impossible although it does seem that it’s not easy enough for a scene like ’80s Florida or ’90s Scandinavia to flourish nowadays. Perhaps I’m just awkward. The path of least resistance becomes the only one if things get *too* democratic. Not everything concerning creative pursuits is up to self expression and by that I don’t mean playing for the audience but in appreciating certain objective principles that apply to a given craft.

  7. Klainmain91 _ says:

    Sweden & Tampa ( except M.A. + Deicide ) were a tier down to other regional scenes, mostly due to not really steping any further than an ( ideally 4 – 5 months older ) Seven Churches of 1985. ’85 – ’89 took, if thin in numbers, massive strides.

    1. Escaping speed metal was the first goal of early death metal.

  8. Beyond Rick Santorum says:

    The Swedes perfected death metal?!

    I thought “Onward to Golgotha” did!

    1. Metal is a sine wave, with peaks and valleys.

  9. power metal > death metal says:

    demos are gay

  10. Battle for the North says:

    The muscle, life force, and its own worldbuilding settings of where no life dwells combined with the ambitions, edginess and ambience of enslaved’s frost, a potent hybrid..

  11. Flying Kites says:

    I can’t explain why I never got into Swedish Death Metal except that it’s too Swedish for my taste. Carnage is good. : ) I like German grindcore pioneers Blood, and Finland’s Beherit, and Havohej of America, so there must be a stylistic tie to these sounds.

    1. Song structures are their own poetry, and sometimes a rhythm riff that communicates an evocative shape can make all the difference. Melody is associated with emotions that can be perceived as getting in the way. Interesting that Sarcófago and Blasphemy did not make the list.

  12. Freiheit says:

    Although I never much enjoyed the “sound” of Swedish Death Metal, I’ve found that short-lived scene to be the overall best and with the greatest highlights. Awesome sculptors of time. And this in spite of how much I love Finnish and American Death Metal.

    1. The Swedes went against the grain and brought melody back into death metal when it was heading toward nearly straight chromatic structuralism. The latter is more interesting to make an academic point, but that is transient; great art endures forever because it makes phrase out of rhythm, melody, and sometimes harmony (implicit to some degree in melody). The Swedish “sound” became the focus of analysis of Swedish death metal, but bands like At the Gates, Therion, and Unleashed did not even have that specific approach; only Carnage, Dismember, Nihilist, and Entombed did.

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