Death metal is all about quality, professionalism and identity, there are some bands who have been well established. And have reached at higher point of productivity and still can carry through their successful musical career. And deliver uncompromising music when it comes to death metal. As a musical institute Unleashed is one of the greatest bands who have been devoted to extreme metal music. We at GRIMM are honored to have the opportunity to interview bassist/vocalist Johnny Hedlund of Unleashed. Who is one of the important figures in Swedish metal scene, and talk about the response which the band received on their newest album ‘The Hunt for White Christ”.
1. Unleashed has been active since 1991, what is the secret of the band’s endurance for being around for such a long time?
We all had the same vision for the band since day one. This is fundamental. You also need to be real good friends and have a good time on the road or it won’t work at all. Death Metal is live music and very intense so it helps if you are real passionate about it. Another thing is to make sure everyone in the band understand the importance of helping out in all things that concerns the band.
2. The Hunt for White Christ is the fourth album which talks about the World of Odalheim and the warriors of Midgard, can you please tell us about the latest album, and the concept story behind it?
It is a post apocalyptic world where the Midgard Warriors fight for survival and their way of life. The main enemy is White Christ and the storyline is taken from a book that me and a friend started working on some 10 years ago. The story never got finished though. So I thought it would be a good idea to use it for Unleashed instead. The Hunt for White Christ is what the Midgard warriors decided to do, literally, after White Christ have attacked a Viking village in the south consisting only of old people, unarmed women and children. All slaughtered and molested. From there the story continues through a snowy and empty Germania, (today Europe) and the journey to seek revenge goes south down to the land of Jorsala…
3. What was the main influence which made you write about this story? Do you see yourself attached to the Viking traditions, and the ancient mythologies?
Indeed that is why I do this. To tell the tales of the Vikings and their traditions. The influence is not only that, but also much of what happens in the world today, and what will happen in the near future. This is what we will bring with us into the Fimbulwinter and further more into Ragnarök, (the end of the world as we know it).
4. Regarding the musical aspect would you agree if I say that “Midvinterblot” album has brought Unleashed to its strongest form?
Oh I don’t know about that. I’d say every new album has its own life so to speak. Every time we enter the studio for a new recording we look at that record as the best one so far. At least, that is our aim. It will always be like that.
5. Odlaheim was the eleventh album by the band which had a direct black metal influence, or was that more of a coincidence?
I think we get influenced my many things. It is really hard to say if there is a very special Black metal influence to a certain record or not I guess. At the very least it is not intentional.
6. What is your opinion about the Swedish death and black metal scene in general? Do you think the scene is more active than it was before?
It looks a bit different these days than when I was young obviously. I think today the kids have it easier to go and see their favourite band than we did back in the late 80’s. And that is all good as far as I am concerned. Other than that I am guessing much is the same too. We are metalheads, we don’t change by the wind (laughs).
7. Can you tell us about the writing process of the album, which of the members come up with ideas?
I came up with the story line for the lyrics as stated above in question 2. Fredrik did all the music. But we all listen and look at lyrics within the band and sort of approve things. Then when all is good and strong, we enter the studio for the final thing.
8. I have recently acquired the new album on a CD format and I am more than happy with the physical version, it’s absolutely great, my question is how do you come up with such art?
Thanks a lot for these words on the album. The album cover art work is taken from the story line of the album and like said in question 2 above it is exactly when armies of White Christ attacked one of the villages in the south. This is the moment of the album cover. I explained this segment to the artist and this is what he came up with. Very satisfying to say the least!
9. I also noticed that the new album has some fast solos, do you see the band has evolved since The Dawn of The Nine album?
I am not sure if the difference is that big. I do think however, that Fredrik keeps developing his solos all the time, and really all things guitar and studio for that matter.
10. The Hunt for White Christ album again has some black metal influences, am I correct? Do you think that black metal music provides the epic moments to some of your songs?
Again, that might be possible but it sure isn’t intentional. Influences come and go I guess. As it must do for all bands. But there is nothing wrong with black metal so I am all good with that if you feel there is more now that perhaps on the previous album. I think we try hard to keep our roots and still develop within our own style of Death Metal.
11. Which bands have had a straight impact on Unleashed in general?
Oh I think in all paradox and seriousness Fredrik is a big Iron Maiden fan, that must show somewhere haha…ok I think still he has many influences really. And so do I when it comes to lyrics but today I normally try not to get too heavily influenced since I don’t want to copy anyone else. In the early days my lyrics had much inspiration from Manowar for example.
12. What are your favorite albums of 2018? And do you still buy CD’s and Vinyl?
Yes I do. Recently got Marduk, Alestorm, Ghost and a few more…
13. One last question, what was the reason to change the record label from Nuclear Blast to Napalm Records and how has it been like?
It’s been real good so far and I think it was the right decision. We are still good friends with Nuclear Blast and their crew so that’s all good. We felt it was time for a change in many ways. Not just the record label. And it feels real good.
Thank you so much for your time, on behalf of Grimm Gent we wish you all the best.