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UNLEASHED: why does Yggdrasil tremble?

UNLEASHED: why does Yggdrasil tremble?
BANDS : Unleashed

If you have listened to Unleashed's latest album, you already know half of the answer. Johnny Hedlund (vocals, bass) has been kind enough (as always) to provide us with the other half, so all of you warriors gather 'round and Hail Odin!

Metalfan: Hello, Johnny, we're glad to see you guys are still around, holding the Viking death metal banner ever higher with your new album! But first, since we somehow missed the opportunity to talk about your previous record, Hammer Battalion, we'd like to know what do you think about that album now, after almost 2 years since it's been "unleashed" and what importance do you think it has gotten in the band's catalogue?
Johnny Hedlund: Hi! I think Hammer Battalion was our best album to date when it was released. No surprise, I guess, I that comment. But it also seems our warriors out there feel the same, since they scream for those songs still. And that’s really the best feedback you can get as a musician.

Metalfan: Moving on to your new album: we, at, are very impressed by As Yggdrasil Trembles and it's hard to imagine that anyone could think otherwise. How it's been received so far, has is got an unanimous praise or have there also been some negative comments?
Johnny Hedlund: Thank you! It has been getting amazingly good reviews so far. But there are always those who write something crazy about a new album, but they don’t really like Unleashed anyway, so you have to be careful who and what magazine you read these days… look into what agenda they have when reviewing a new album. Actually, regardless of which band it’s about. Last time we sold this many presales was in the 90’ies so I should be so happy!

Metalfan: Is there any particular reason why As Yggdrasil Trembles sounds more complex and diverse than any of your previous albums or is just the way it came out? Was it a reaction to the straightforwardness displayed by Hammer Battalion or just the natural flow of your inspiration?
Johnny Hedlund: Thanks again, indeed we have planned this evolution of the band since the album Sworn Allegiance I would say. We have wanted Fredrik to take some more space on the albums… show a little more of what he can do on his six string hell crusher… not just solos, but also melodies and such. I think he did just that. And it suits perfectly to the rest of the ideas and song structures of the album.

Metalfan: Is Unleashed going more and more complex in the future or was it just an experiment? Are we going to hear the harsh, minimal and in your face Unleashed style ever again, or is it definitely a thing of the past now?
Johnny Hedlund: This is what it will sound like in the future as well. We have just taken this a step at the time… I don’t think it’s a huge step, but small adjustments and small development within our own style, so to speak. A little more horror melodies and leads that go perfectly well with each other just makes the songs stronger. But we will never turn into a technical band. We play for people, not just for other guitarists. The songs must be memorable.

Metalfan: Some people pretend to be hearing explicit black metal touches on some of the songs, namely, a Dissection influence, what do you have to say about that? Do you agree that the album features a distinct black metal vibe?
Johnny Hedlund: In a way, there is a very thin line between what is a death metal riff or a black metal riff… I’d say we are like cousins, brothers and sisters. Not the exact same, but extremely closely related. There are some black metal influences, I am sure. We like black metal, so that’s not too strange really. All in all, you will always find traces of influences in the music, regardless of where they come from. No one is original without influences. A good thing, if you ask me. Although I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is because of a specific band.

Metalfan: Speaking about Dissection, did you know Jon Nödtveidt? What do you think about him? What do you think about Satanism, as a philosophy, as a way of life?
Johnny Hedlund: We send mail back and forth in the early 90’ies. But we didn’t keep contact that long. I have no opinion that matters about him, since I didn’t know him well enough. Satanism is humanism… if you ask the late Mr Anthon Lavey. A philosophy not far from my own. There is much in the Satanist way of life that is extremely real and potent in the 21st century.

Metalfan: You've let Fredrik [Folkare, guitarist] take your place in the front position of the new promotional pictures, is this like some kind of reward for him coming up with so many killer riffs and solos on the album? hahaha Seriously now, he seems to be getting better and better with each album!
Johnny Hedlund: Hahah… I will tell him you said that! Fuckin’ awesome haha… Honestly, pictures just become what they become… no planning in that, what so ever I can a sure you. But I totally agree he has been taking some serious steps with his guitar work last albums. The thing is… he has been competent enough for this for many many years, he just never took the step to put it on an Unleashed album that’s all.

Metalfan: Who is the main writer in the band? Do you happen to have raging arguments about which way a song should go during the composition process?
Johnny Hedlund: The best songs always go to the album after a pre production. Right now, Fredrik writes most of the music, I write most of the lyrics. But that can change… you never know.

Metalfan: We didn't have a chance yet to read all the lyrics, so maybe you might forgive us asking: why does Yggdrasil tremble? Is it maybe because of the furious conviction of your performance, as we are tempted to think? Hahaha
Johnny Hedlund: Haha…ok, I will settle for that! But ok, look around you… the world is shaking and it’s getting worse by the day. And it won’t stop until Ragnarök. What happens after… you can read about in the next album… in about two years from now!

Metalfan: The philosophy behind the music of Unleashed is pretty obvious. But is this because you consider the Viking mythology to be compatible with death metal or you use it because you're a traditionalist?
Johnny Hedlund: It is extremely compatible with death metal. Not only Unleashed have realized this. Many bands today combine the Viking tradition with deadly music or folklore music, Viking metal or the like. It is a step in the right direction regardless of what you call your style of preferred music. Indeed I am a traditionalist. I would likely have done the same lyrics if I was in another type of metal band. At least to some extent. It is my roots, my world and my way of life. In the past, present and in the future.

Metalfan: Your lyrics are sometimes inspired by books, like Tolkien’s novels or the Bible. Are there any other books that inspired you to write about them? Or maybe movies?
Johnny Hedlund: I was NEVER inspired by the Bible. I have however, reacted with disgust against the religious idiocy that rules the earth. Using their own bible wording to enhance and prove the lies that they are performing. Shot by their own guns I’d call it! As for Tolkien, indeed the games, books and movies inspired me. Just like Mr Tolkien was heavily inspired by our forefathers the Vikings, I have been inspired by his work. My guess is this won’t end. There is still so much to get inspired by. I have for example been heavily inspired by books like “Funky Business” and “Karaoke Capitalism”… they are about financial stuff mainly but also so much more about the life we live. Being what you are and not try to copy others etc. Some inspirations from these books can be found in many of my lyrics.

Metalfan: Speaking about the lyrics, the usual themes and subjects are in place, but there's a slight shift towards songs with a warlike attitude, they seem to be predominant on the album. We're not going to take them literally, of course, and we don't think many of your fans will, but, still, is there a particular reason for this intensified martial attitude?
Johnny Hedlund: You are right again! And I am happy you know your Unleashed lyrics this well. Indeed, our fans don’t take the lyrics too literally, but it is really all about the battle of life. We share this with our forefathers the Vikings in the past. Just like today and also in the future, we will face many different enemies and struggles of life. As will the metalfan all over the world. Also in Romania! Therefore, “the Viking spirit” is about being a warrior in the battle of life. It is absolutely meaningless as to what country you come from or the color of the skin. The Viking spirit is what you do, how you treat your friends and family and what kind of warrior you are. How you act, really. It all comes down to the Viking traditions and values. Going to war, as you say many of our lyrics are about… is the only way to survive as a metal fan in the battle of life. We never give up the fight. Never.

Metalfan: What would you have to say to an Unleashed old school die-hard fan who accuses you of turning towards a more accessible, untrue (haha) musical approach?
Johnny Hedlund: I honestly never hear this these days… actually I heard this a few times in the 90’ies, but really, not these days at all. I think the reason being that Unleashed always kept to the roots and developed within our own style, instead of changing by the winds.

Metalfan: As Yggdrasil Trembles’ cover is Unleashed's first completely black&white cover. Why is that? Are you, by any chance, trying to subtly suggest that we are dealing with a classic album? Hahaha Seriously now, was it your decision? How much was the band involved in the making of the artwork?
Johnny Hedlund: We are 4 guys in the band. All with an equal say of all things. I mean ALL things. Perhaps that is why we haven’t changed that many band members during the past 21 years? But I agree, our first black and white cover just had to happen sooner or later and it was needed to bring a special feeling to such a doom predicting album title. We also have lots to thank Mr Sebastian Ramstedt for. He made the cover artwork. Again, with brilliance.

Metalfan: The last song on the album is a cover of the song Evil Dead by Death. Why Death? Why this particular song?
Johnny Hedlund: Death has been a heavy influence ever since the very beginning of death metal music. They deserve this and much more of course, but we just felt we wanted to do this, this time. That’s all. It could have been any of their songs, really they have so many great ones that will last a life time.

Metalfan: You've always been linked to major labels: Century Media, SPV and now Nuclear Blast. How did you manage that relationship and, on a certain extent, what are your expectations towards Nuclear Blast?
Johnny Hedlund: Very high. And right now in the early stage of this cooperation they are doing a great job! Professional and straight forward.

Metalfan: Wouldn't you rather prefer to be a big band in a medium label rather than to be a big band in a big record label with so many important names on its roster?
Johnny Hedlund: We had around many very real offers before signing to Nuclear Blast. I would say we made the right choice.

Metalfan: What would be your worst failure as a band?
Johnny Hedlund:  Signing to Century Media rec. Back in 1991. Little did we know about the down side of the industry back then. We had no idea that what we signed back then would make us slaves to those deals even 20 and 70 years ahead of time. You read right!... 70 years is what they say our deals are for! Imagine a 17 year old metal head understanding this back in 1990? Anders was just 17… But there is no time to be bitter over that now….we have so much more to do and we just keep moving forward. Century Media will get theirs… and they know it. When the time is right.

Metalfan: What is your favorite Unleashed album? Name just one.
Johnny Hedlund: Nope. No can do… I can only say what I guess most musicians say: the newest one is the most exciting one since it’s what we just worked on. Sorry, but that’s how it is.

Metalfan: What are your all time favorite bands?  How about the new coming bands, do you have favorites among them?
Johnny Hedlund:  That’s a crazy ass question since you don’t have room for 9 pages of my favorite bands but I’ll give you a few here that enjoy right now: Die Apocalyptichen Reiter, AC/DC, Marduk, Grand Magus, Motörhead, Immortal, Belphegor, Morbid Angel, Entombed, Grave, Necrophobic, MOAB.

Metalfan: What is your opinion about the recent reorientation of the metal scene towards the old school style?
Johnny Hedlund: Don’t look at it that way. We are all a little nostalgic sometimes when it comes to our classics, but new classics are made all the time. The new Grand Magus for example, I haven’t even heard it yet, but I am pretty sure it will be a metal classic… it all goes round and round. Which is why metal music, in general, is still potent and meaningful.

Metalfan: You have a respectable job as a financial director. What does your boss think about having a true Viking warrior managing his accounts? Did the rebellious Viking spirit in you ever incite you to mess up the figures of the financial situations? Hahaha
Johnny Hedlund: Haha.,…well fuck me if I cooked the books haha….naaa. My previous boss died, actually, and I am now working for another company as an Accounting manager. The new boss seems to think the new album is pretty cool…strange huh? My estimate is actually to the contrary – What can ever be better than having a true Viking warrior to manage you books?

Metalfan: If you had the chance to meet Thor, Odin and Frey, what song would you play for them? What question would you ask them?
Johnny Hedlund: I never think of it that way. Thor, Odin and Frey are symbols of power in different aspects of life. For me, just like I think they were for our forefathers. They are not physical gods. Never were. People need symbols and god-like names if you will, to unite around in good and bad times. It makes us understand the importance of certain things. By Odin… I will go to war! or By Frey this woman will be mine!... Now that just sounds a little stronger than “she will be mine” don’t you think? Therefore, performing a blot to the honor of a Viking god means you perform a blot to satisfy your own needs or urges. Enhancing the strength in a coming war, for example.

Metalfan: Is Johnny a family guy or a die hard metal head?
Johnny Hedlund: Both. I am a Viking remember? Hahaha

Metalfan: What are you doing when you're not on tour or in the studio? Do you still go to concerts to see other bands play?
Johnny Hedlund: Absolutely, I go to a good number of festivals every year, even when I am not playing. I also love to catch a football game or hockey, bandy or handball (Hammarby) when time allows.

Metalfan: Are you going to come to Romania or WHAT?!
Johnny Hedlund: Unleashed would fuckin LOVE to come to Romania! I am pretty sure there is more to Romania than just football and it would be great to come and visit your country. Hail to all Romanian warriors! Hail Odin!

Autor: Sake, Klawz, hell9level
Vezi galeriile trupelor: Unleashed

   April 30, 2010  | 18 Comments  | 17142 Views « BACK

Comment on: UNLEASHED: why does Yggdrasil tremble?

  • bai, ce baiat!

    1. Posted by hell9level | 30 Aprilie 2010 13:05
  • O trupa de doi lei, un leader de doi lei, un interviu de doi lei.

    2. Posted by GJA | 30 Aprilie 2010 13:08
  • doi lei grei, frate GJA.

    3. Posted by hell9level | 30 Aprilie 2010 13:09
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