Unanimated – Victory In Blood (Album Review)

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A black-blooded legacy reemerges.

Relegated to obscurity almost to the day of their initial inception in the late 1980s, Swedish death metal warrior outfit Unanimated has been fold spoken mostly in whispers among those whom might otherwise know a fair bit about their respective scene, despite being fairly influential among more blackened adherents to the style that have been cropping up of late. With connections to the likes of Entombed, Dismember and Therion via certain present and past members, this eventuality would seem counterintuitive, but an examination of how their sound has endures provides a few clues as to why this came to pass. In contrast to the then nascent Gothenburg melodic death movement and the evolutionary trajectory of Sweden’s larger death metal scene, this fold never favored catchy hooks and safe song structures, instead adhering consistency to dual course of a crackling, frosty aesthetic and an old school sense of brutality that has stuck with them until this very day.

In essence, this is a band that prefers the company of more sinister players dabbling in the black metal art such as Necrophobic and Dissection, and 11 years almost to the day since their last studio excursion, this still holds true with their latest opus “Victory In Blood.” As the title suggests, this is a sonic manifesto of open warfare, containing a somber melodic underpinning and dense atmosphere that is equally as influenced by Bathory as it is the early 90s Stockholm death metal sound. It doesn’t quite emphasize the technical instrumental prowess element as much as Necrophobic tends to, but there is definitely a strong commitment to musical excellence here that results in some unconventional moments and a developed sense of structure that keeps things highly engaging. The scope of each chapter of this book of nocturnal warfare tends towards the compact side of things, but even the songs that clock in below the 3 minute mark are exercises in methodical rage.

“Victory In Blood” Album Artwork

Though not a conceptual undertaking, there is definitely a unifying cohesion to all 12 of these songs that unfold as a greater whole. Things enter on a decidedly abrupt and brutal note with the chaotic crusher and title anthem “Victory In Blood”, providing a precedent for even more ravenous fits of auditory carnage, but also introducing some interesting twists and turns. True to form, other generally shorter offerings such as “Seven Mouths Of Madness” and “The Devil Rides Out” up the ante in the speed and rawness department, though the melodic elements are a bit more pronounced and remind a fair bit of the primordial works that appeared on “Skydancer” and “The Red In The Sky Is Ours,” albeit more frosty and blast prone. On the other hand, when the songs stick around longer, the formula gets a bit more elaborate, with “XIII” and closing chapter “The Poetry Of The Scarred Earth” laying on some more intricate riff work and creepy atmospheric pauses, the former featuring a rather brilliant if somewhat jarring shift into a folksy acoustic segment with a chanting clean vocal melody.

What at first might appear to be a randomized collection of highly aggressive melodic death and black metal ultimately turns out to be a rather engaging soundtrack of sorts. The longer the songs tend to go, the more involved they tend to become, but even the brief speed metal-tinged 2 minute ditty “Divine Hunger” and the serene interludes segments “With A Cold Embrace” (basically a brief shift into acoustic balladry with a surprisingly apt clean vocal performance) and the haunting melancholy instrumental “Chaos Descends” are well realized and complement the flow of the rest of the album. After more than 30 years in the thick of the Swedish extreme metal scene, Unanimated has once again demonstrated that consistency with zero compromises is a viable path to powerful results. This is not quite at the same level as seminal 90s classics, but it’s definitely close enough to be worth of their legacy.

Released By: Century Media Records
Release Date: December 3rd, 2021
Genre: Death Metal

Musicians:

  • Jonas Deroueche / Guitars
  • Johan Bohlin / Guitars
  • Richard Cabeza / Bass
  • Micke Broberg / Vocals
  • Anders Schultz / Drums

“Victory In Blood” track-listing:

  1. Victory in Blood
  2. Seven Mouths of Madness
  3. As the Night Takes Us
  4. The Devil Rides Out
  5. With a Cold Embrace
  6. Demon Pact (Mysterium Tremendum)
  7. XIII
  8. Scepter of Vengeance
  9. Chaos Ascends
  10. The Golden Dawn of Murder
  11. Divine Hunger
  12. The Poetry of the Scarred Earth
 

8.6 Excellent

Underground Swedish death metal pioneers and missing link to said nation’s concurrent black metal scene Unanimated return from an extended period of hibernation to ravage the lands once more with their unique blend of Scandinavian coldness and brutality

  • Songwriting 9
  • Musicianship 8.5
  • Originality 8.5
  • Production 8.5
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