Vocals, Bass – Johnny Hedlund
Guitars – Fredrik Folkare
Guitars – Tomas Måsgard
Drums – Anders Schultz
Time For Metal / René W.:
Hello Johnny, I’m pleased to talk to you about Unleashed, the new album No Sign Of Life and your passion for heavy death metal. Let’s get straight to the first topic. How have you experienced the last year and a half as a sworn bunch? Did the pandemic tear your hearts out a bit, and how did you experience this long phase without the direct connection to your followers?
Unleashed / Johnny: Hi and thanks for your interest in the band! Well, I think the pandemic hasn’t really affected the band so much at all. Naturally, it was pretty fucked up to be forced to postpone all the festivals and shows, but at least we could still keep up the creative process for the new album. Sending files back and forth wasn’t a problem at all. It was just like we used to do it.
Time For Metal / René W.: Hardly any band manages to work on new works in the same constellation over so many years. Is this connection what makes you so strong?
Unleashed / Johnny: Well, we have since long been very good friends. We all help out in the band with all things in Unleashed. And we have also that long agreed on what to do and what NOT to do with the band. We also know pretty well what we want to play and what we do NOT want to play. So I think these are things, that really play a key role in keeping the band in a strong and solid shape for a long time.
Time For Metal / René W.:
No Sign Of Life impressed me right away. One can find your signature from all eras. It doesn’t matter if it’s from the time of Victory and Warrior in the mid-nineties, the crashing phase with Midvinterblot and Hammer Battalion or the newer sounds of Odalheim and The Hunt For White Christ. How do you manage to keep the typical Unleashed style and write new songs without copying yourselves?
Unleashed / Johnny: Thank you very much! I think it is just like stated above. We have decided not to change by the wind. And we really know what we like, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We stick to what works, try to get influences enough to keep things fresh and interesting, but not that it takes over. We always keep to our roots, that’s very important for all band members.
Time For Metal / René W.: Songwriting is a good topic. Were you able to do this as usual, or did you have to adjust during the crazy time due to contact bans or something like that?
Unleashed / Johnny: No, things are so digital nowadays anyway. Sending files to each other, music, and lyrics is something we have done for many albums now. There was no difference this time, and certainly not because of the pandemic.
Time For Metal / René W.: With your last album, The Hunt For White Christ, you changed to the label family of Napalm Records and remained faithful to them with your new album. You obviously feel very comfortable in your new clan. How is the cooperation going, and what are your plans for the future?
Unleashed / Johnny: It is working out very well, and we are doing great. The plans are just to keep promoting the new album and hopefully play all the shows and festivals we had to postpone because of the pandemic.
Time For Metal / René W.: Let’s deepen the conversation about the new record No Sign Of Life. Despite your tight frame, you always manage to set standards in your art. Where are the differences to The Hunt For White Christ, and what can the listener expect in the Odalheim story that you have continued on the fifth album?
Unleashed / Johnny: I hope people will find every new Unleashed album just a bit better than the previous one. Although, that is for others to judge if we managed or not. I think everyone who enjoys our music can expect a new and fresh Viking Death Metal album with very memorable songs and a continuation of the storyline of the World of Odalheim. On this album, things continue from the end of the previous album where the Midgard Warriors win a big victory by the western wall in Jorsala (present-day Jerusalem). White Christ himself and his armies flee toward the Sinai Peninsula and into the desert. The Midgard Warriors keep persecuting them into the hot and empty desert. And there is where most of the events on this album take place.
Time For Metal / René W.: Do you have fixed rituals in the band? For example, do you spend the release day together? Or do you have anchors before a gig or on stage that keep recurring and give you an extra boost?
Unleashed / Johnny: I don’t think we have too many rituals like that in the band. Well, some things perhaps just before we enter the stage, but I keep those for myself haha. Anyhow, there is nothing that can give a bigger boost than being in the backstage room and hearing the crowd roar just before stage time. That’s hard to replace. And it is also the main reason for going out playing.
Time For Metal / René W.: Next year, you’ll finally be back on the road in Europe. Have you already planned a tour to perform No Sign Of Life to the faithful hordes?
Unleashed / Johnny: We are hoping now to be able to play most of the festivals and shows that were postponed due to the pandemic. That is my highest hope right now. Let’s see if that works first. It isn’t so certain after all.
Time For Metal / René W.: Finally, I’d like to hand the floor over to you, Johnny, and you can openly address it to all death metal fans and our readers. Thank you for always staying true to your death metal oath and continuing to push Unleashed as a tireless bulwark with a unique sound. Horns Up!
Unleashed / Johnny: Thank you very much for the kind words on the band and the new album! Hail Odin!