UNLEASHED — Where No Life Dwells (review)

UNLEASHED — Where No Life Dwells album cover Album · 1991 · Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
"Where No Life Dwells" is the debut full-length studio album by Swedish death metal act Unleashed. The album was released through Century Media Records in May 1991. Unleashed was formed in 1989 after Nihilist disbanded. Bassist (later lead vocalist) Johnny Hedlund was not invited to join Entombed, which was formed one week after by the other members of Nihilist. In fact disbanding Nihilist and forming Entombed, was their way of getting rid of Hedlund instead of just telling him, that he was fired. Hedlund soon after formed Unleashed and recruited drummer Anders Schultz and guitarist Fredrik Lindgren, who were both part of the local Stockholm death metal scene, and to complete the lineup former Dismember frontman/guitarist Robert Sennebäck. The latter would leave after a couple of demos to rejoin Dismember and Thomas Olsson was his replacement on guitar while Hedlund took over the vocal duties.

This quartet incarnation of Unleashed was invited by Century Media Records to Nobel Studios, Bielefeld, Germany in December 1990 to record the "Century Media promo Tape". The label wanted to make sure that Hedlund was a suitable frontman before signing Unleashed. At that point they had only heard Sennebäck´s vocals on the first two demos. Hedlund nailed it though and off they went to record "Where No Life Dwells".

Unlike most other Swedish death metal acts at the time, Unleashed went to the Woodhouse Studios in Dortmund, Germany with producer Waldemar Sorychta to record the album, and not to the Sunlight Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, where most of their fellow countrymen recorded their early albums. That´s instantly audible when you listen to "Where No Life Dwells", which has a very different sound compared to most other old school Swedish death metal recordings. The sound on "Where No Life Dwells" is less dark, clearer, and not as muddy as the sound on many early nineties death metal recordings (and it doesn´t feature the buzzsaw Sunlight Studios guitar sound). The brutality is intact though, which is ensured by the brutal growls (and occasionally higher pitched screams) by Hedlund.

The album opens with the beautiful acoustic title track intro but from the first notes of the second track "Dead Forever" to the last notes of the closing track "Where Life Ends", there´s otherwise little variation to be found. The track feature relatively simple vers/chorus structures, but they are powerful, effective, and memorable. I wouldn´t be out of line calling the album a bit one-dimensional though and while tracks like "Dead Forever", "Before the Creation of Time", "Into Glory Ride", and "Unleashed" stand out in my book, I find the album as a whole a bit too formulaic and lacking surprises.

"Where No Life Dwells" is of course still rightly considered a seminal Swedish death metal release and it´s certainly one of the early Swedish death metal releases which stand out. Unleashed went their own ways, and it payed off. They sound very different from Entombed, Dismember, and Grave, although they all came from the same musical movement. The Norse mythology/viking themed lyrics also began here, and made Unleashed stand out even more, from the more typical gore/horror themed contemporary releases. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.
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