The legendary Swedish death metallers UNLEASHED
are about to release their 9th album, entitled "Hammer Battalion".
Unleashed was founded in 1989 by vocalist/bassist Johnny Hedlund after
his former band, Nihilist, ceased to exist. In 1991, the band released
their debut studio album ‘Where No Life Dwells’. In 1992, Unleashed
released their second studio album, ‘Shadows In The Deep’. After
releasing three more albums, the band went on hiatus until 2002. After a
reissue of the band's classics in 2002, they released a new album called
‘Hell’s Unleashed’, and they began to tour once again. In 2004,
Unleashed released their seventh studio album, ‘Sworn Allegiance’
followed in 2006 by release number eight ‘Midvinterblot’. Unleashed
toured Europe in November 2006 as part of the Masters of Death tour,
with Grave, Dismember, and Entombed.
The new album was recorded in Sweden and produced by the
band's guitarist Fredrik Folkare. "Hammer Battalion" will continue in
the same victorious spirit as the previous album 'Midvinterblot'. The
new album takes a battle-hardened axe to the misguided concepts of
self-subjugation, transparent corruption and unneeded suffering in the
name of religious figureheads and provides a perfect link between the
ancient struggles of their Nordic forefathers and the ills of our modern
society. The blistering "The Greatest Of All Lies" and "Long Before
Winter's Call" take on old religious myths re-cast as pure fact, while
"Your Children Will Burn" serves as a warning of the consequences of
So with a new album out soon and common themes like
Viking culture, recollection of a pre-Christian world, and Norse
folklore in the band's songs we have plenty to talk about with drummer
Your latest album ‘Hammer Battalion’ will be released in
a couple of weeks, so of course we’d like to ask you a couple of
questions about it!
So here we go.. first of all, how are you?
All good here! Busy as hell and ready for the album to be
out and to hit the road!
How did you launch into writing the material for ‘Hammer
Battalion’, did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them
down or was it more of a careful composing thing?
Kind of hard to describe the process really. The ideas
just come here and there. We've been working on the songs ever since the
last album was done, and some ideas are even from before that.
What were the goals you had in mind when you started to
record ‘Hammer Battalion’, did you have a certain idea of what you
wanted to do, any elements you definitely wanted to have on the album?
The goal was as always to evolve and take everything a
step further from the last release. But yeah definitely as soon as the
songs started coming together we saw where it was heading. One goal was
for sure to go a bit faster and making the sound a bit harsher without
losing the groove.
Was it a conscious decision to do it this way?
I don't know if it's ever conscious at first but as
things progress it definitely becomes clear.
Who was responsible for writing the songs and the lyrics
on the new album?
On this one it's a mix between Fredrik and Johnny’s
songs, with all lyrics done by Johnny.
I think the main theme on ‘Hammer Battalion’ is clear,
but can you clarify some lyrics / song titles for us, for example the
songs “The Greatest Of All Lies" and "Long Before Winter’s Call" don't
seem like typical Unleashed Lyrics, they're more religious?
Well actually lyrics like those have always been a part
of unleashed. The greatest of all lies is a traditional anti-Christian
song and the title pretty much says it all.
Long before winter's call is a bit of a new take on
it...about the fact that the Christians placed the birth of their Christ
conveniently on our and most other pagan traditions of winter solstice,
so to ease the transition to their religion. When in fact the birth of
their bastard child was in September.
How important is it to you that people pay attention to
the lyrics apart from listening to the music?
It's always good when people pay attention to all details
of course, but I would still say the music speaks loudest.
In song writing, what is the utmost important ingredient
for a song, according to Unleashed?
It's hard to name one thing but simple and catchy songs
are important. Without getting boring of course.
What are your main influences on the new album and is it
difficult these days to sound original ?
This long into the game I think any influences are mostly
subconscious. We have a pretty good idea of what we want to do so it's
more trying to evolve the sound we have. Which in turn makes it original
What about the song writing – how can we imagine you work
on new songs? What comes first, lyrics or melodies? Is it like you sit
down and write a new song because you need more material now or do you
wait until you get an idea?
Like I said previously ideas just come whenever. We don't
just sit down and decide to write a song. Ideas come and when a song is
done, or nearly done usually we'll all put in ideas and input and work
until we feel it all comes together.
Is the music written independently of the lyrics or do
you try to reflect lyrical ideas through the music?
Usually the music will be done first or it will at least
be somewhat done before lyrics are added. But there is always like an
idea-bank to grab lyrics from and then it's just a matter of trying to
make it fit.
How hard was it to come up with a follow-up for your
previous album ‘Midvinterblot’?
There was certainly some pressure since ‘Midvinterblot’
was very well received. But once the new songs started coming together
that pressure kind of stopped. We felt at an early stage that we had
strong enough material to outdo ‘Midvinterblot’ by far.
Before an album release there's the process in the
studio, how did the recording process proceed and how much time did you
spend in the studio?
Since we have our own, or rather Fredrik has his own
studio we take as much time as necessary, which takes away any deadline
pressure. Of course we set our own deadline so we don't lose focus but
it's always nice to know that in case anything goes wrong it's possible
to be flexible. I'd say the whole process from start to finish took
about a month.
Did you work differently this time? If so, what was the
difference between the recording process for the previous albums?
Since the last 3 albums we've worked in pretty much the
same way. Of course tweaking a bit here and there but in general we've
found a good way to get it done.
After the release of ‘Midvinterblot’, you toured with
Grave, Dismember, and Entombed in Europe, the classical deathmetal line
up for a lot of old school fans. Did this tour have any influence on the
That was indeed a great tour! But I wouldn't say it had
anything to do with influencing any of the new material.
The production was done by guitarist Fredrik Folkare,
what made him the perfect producer for ‘Hammer Battalion’?
Of course we think having a member actually producing and
mixing is perfect! This way you don't have to explain anything to a
third party. He knows exactly what we want to achieve so there's no real
room for misunderstanding.
So did you want to preserve the vision you have for Unleashed by taking
control of the production?
Exactly! He knows what point we all want to get to. But of course we all
give input and ideas as a group.
Have you received any feedback on the new album yet? And
how do you feel about this album – are you satisfied with the outcome or
would you have liked to have changed anything in retrospective?
So far all reviews and feedback have been great! And we
are totally satisfied with how it came together and the outcome! It's
clear that we are not the only ones thinking this is a big leap forward
in the unleashed legacy!
Can you explain the title of your new album ‘Hammer
Battalion’, is there a special meaning behind it?
It's basically a call to arms! For all of us who live for
this music to stand together and spread the word around the world!
Do you have any favorites on ‘Hammer Battalion’, songs
that you think are somehow above the others? Which element of the CD are
you most proud of?
Personally I would say the title track is my favorite!
But the fact that it's so solid from start to finish is what makes me
What was your incentive when you recorded ‘Hammer
Battalion’ in a time where a fan would rather download than buy an
Well that fact has nothing really to do with the
incentive. But we do hope that all those who download it feel it is a
strong enough album to actually get for their collection. In these days
it's very important for bands to have that support from the public.
You will tour Europe with Krisiun and One Man Army And
The Undead Quartet in November. How do you see the future of Unleashed?
Do you think, for instance, that the band will still exist ten years
from now or do you not think to the future too much?
Well we are not stopping out of free will that's for
sure! We just intend to go out and support the new album as much as
possible and start working on new material as well. This is no time to
be slacking! The battalions are rising!
Ok, now some questions to enable our readers to get to
know you a little better:
How did you get involved in the music business?
We were all just a bunch of guys wanting to do our thing
and the opportunity came. When we started we had no idea we would ever
get this far...it was just something we had to do!
What songs and bands do you listen to these days?
I have to admit a lot of times I just dig through the old
record collection. But I try to keep up with the newer things and bands.
So tell us a little bit about yourself and the kinds of
things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics!
What are you personally into?
Well we talk about this at times...why we actually keep
doing it. It's not like it's for the money haha! But we just have to
carry on...it's such a big part of our lives and has been for so long!
Is there anything you like to do besides your job in the
band, what is the ambition you still haven't fulfilled yet?
Honestly there's no real time or desire to think of
anything else. Of course the ambition is to keep going and progressing
constantly. This is our life's work!
What is your opinion on the death metal scene these days,
is there anything missing?
I think it's pretty solid at the moment, and it has been
for a long time. Hard to name anything in particular that's missing.
Have you ever thought of changing your music style, like
so many other musicians tend to do after some years?
No, this is what we do and anything else would not be Unleashed. One
thing we've said since day one is if we changed our style we'd change
our name. But still of course the challenge is to evolve within that.
Which album has been your biggest musical influence, one
that made you think “this is what I want to do!”?
There's so many. In the beginning we were just influenced
by everything we listened to I guess. What we grew up with. Just the
feeling we had to be a part of this too!
Okay, if you could choose three bands to get on stage
with, who would they be?
Hard question...! of course throughout the years we've
been privileged to share the stage with many great bands and there's
more to come! But of course it would be great to play with Venom for
instance. Or bands that are no longer around like Autopsy! And hell,
I'll throw in a band like Discharge in the mix!
With all the touring and nine full-length albums under
your belt, how far has Unleashed surpassed your original dreams and what
would you say is the most rewarding part of being in the band?
Like I mentioned, of course in the beginning none of us
had expected this! And getting this far is definitely the most rewarding
part! Now it's just a matter of keeping this and making it grow even
You've played bigger festivals, if you compare this to
the smaller gig venues, what are the differences for you and which kind
of shows do you prefer yourself?
There's no real way to compare. They're a world apart in
a way and there are good and bad sides to both. Personally I prefer
clubs as they get you closer to the crowd. But of course playing bigger
stages are also very rewarding.
Is there anything left unmentioned? Any last statement or
anything you'd like to add...
Thanks for the interview! The hammer battalion assault
will soon begin so be prepared...!!
Okay, thanks for the interview!
Johnny Hedlund – Vocals, Bass (1989–present)
Fredrik Folkare – Lead Guitar (1997–present)
Tomas Måsgard – Rhythm Guitar (1989–present)
Anders Schultz – Drums (1989–present)
Former members :
Fredrik Lindgren – Guitar (1989–1995)
Studio albums :
Where No Life Dwells (1991)
Shadows in the Deep (1992)
Across the Open Sea (1993)
Hell's Unleashed (2002)
Sworn Allegiance (2004)
Hammer Battalion (2008)