Where No Life Dwells reviews
Rivalry on February 15th, 2014
Unleash Thy Violent Ecstasy!
I once read a historical account documenting exactly why Nihilist became Entombed. Apparently, the guys in Nihilist were unwilling to change their horror and gore-themed lyrical content to tales of vikings and Norse mythology which Johnny Hedlund had tried to incorporate. And thus, the group "disbanded" only to reunite without Hedlund under the name "Entombed" and that of course led to some brutal and explosive records in the early 90's. But I digress, this review will not assess an Entombed record but instead the debut release of the relentless Unleashed.
Where no life dwells, if I am not mistaken, was recorded in Germany while the other members of the big four of Swedish death metal, Grave, Entombed and Dismember, were recording their first, second and first records respectively in Studio Sunlight. This is immediately clear as soon as you are allowed to digest the sound of the album which sounds absolutely nothing like the classic Tomas Skogsberg/HM-2 riddled sound of Unleashed's contemporaries. Instead we are given a flat, up-front and in-your-face drumkit that emulates the battles of a merciless age, beyond brutal and coarse gutturals from Hedlund as well as a surprisingly clean, yet unbelievably low-tuned guitars. Anyone who is familiar with newer Unleashed releases such as Midvinterblot will most likely be pleasantly surprised by this record if they have not had the chance to listen to it in the past. The sound on this album was completely discarded on later releases and while Unleashed gained more space and atmosphere in the production, I believe they ended up lacking the possessive and unyielding attitude of this release.
The tracks themselves are all enjoyable and this is one of those records that you can listen to from beginning to end without any filler forced down your throat. The tremolo riffs are simply vicious and they are excessively developed within each track. The lyrics, while somewhat stock, really shine through in combination with the deep and throaty Johnny Hedlund growls. The growls themselves are deliciously enjoyable, especially on tracks such as the thrashy "Into Glory Ride" and especially on the epic mid-section of "...and the laughter has died". There are definitely stand-out tracks in my opinion but I fear to mention them because the other tracks are not far behind when it comes to the actual enjoyability of the music itself. The opener and closer fit perfectly together and nicely book-end what is a high-ranking Swedish death metal album which stands out among many others that simply tried to imitate the Dismember/Entombed sound. On a closing note I also want to express my admiration of the demonically majestic cover art. Bravo Unleashed. Bravo.
CHRISTI_NS_ANITY8 on June 6th, 2008
I’ve always though to Unleashed as the most “refined” death metal band from Sweden because of the sounds, probably, that are never too chaotic or underground like the ones by Entombed or Dismember. Anyway, don’t be frightened by my affirmations because if you search for sheer violence, their debut is still the best. Here we have no time to rest and the band is always compact and brutal in its style of playing metal, that differs from the other fellows in Sweden, being more personal and somehow bound to thrash metal.
One example of what I said is the galloping riff on the great “Before The Creation Of Time” that, anyway, is full of doom breaks are more death metal parts with blast beats. The opener is pure speed in death metal with simple but catchy structures. Also the vocals have got something different from the classic Swedish growl, being more screamed and rough without a too low tonality, and sometimes they can turn into screams too. “For They Shall Be Slain” features a perfect blend of up tempo and doom breaks. The fast parts are literally out of the blue.
The lyrics are mostly based on Antichristian themes while in a massive track like “Into Glory Ride” the very first epic/Viking lyrics appear and this will be the band’s trademark for the rest of its history. The fast tremolo pickings on the power chords are the main technique utilized by the guitarists, while for the mid paced tempo we can find some stopped chords parts and single note scales alternated to galloping riffs. These mid paced parts are particularly rotten and obsessive, despite the more violent parts that arise with the blast beats and the up tempo.
The early doom/death metal for example can be found in great dosage at the beginning to “The Dark One” with single note picking and following, sudden, fast restart. This is classic Swedish death metal pattern. “…And The Laughter Died” and “Unleashed” are really two kicks in the ass for the death metal load they’ve got inside and the fast tempo, apart from being two of the most representative and obscure songs ever done by this band.
At the end, it’s good to notice how this band could have been original in creating their style of death metal that differs a lot from the other ones, as I said, mostly for the guitars sound (less fuzzy and rotten), from the vocals and especially the songs’ structure. If you’re searching for a different brutality (but it’s always death fucking metal) from Sweden, check this out. These guys are truly aggressive.
minorthreat665 on September 30th, 2007
Holy shit! This album is simply a gem of Swedish death metal. Hardly any albums by any metal artist can touch the intensity and greatness of this old school death metal release. This is Unleashed doing some of their best work. It's heavy, fast, and intense, with just enough melody to hold together the depths of the evil, evil, evil overall sound.
The album starts with a short, minute long acoustic folk intro, which immediately becomes a heavy mash of guitars, drums, and tortured death screams with "Dead Forever". Johnny Hedlund's vocals are evil gravel growls which manage still to be intelligible, sometimes a lost art form in death metal. They are the top layer of a wall of heavy, crunchy guitar sounds, with ridiculously good riffing. The riffs on this album are spectacular and probably one of my favorite things about this album and Unleashed in general. Every song has at least two major riff hooks that you will either hum or play on your guitar constantly out of habit and their cool sound.
Don't mistake good riffing for melody-- there is no melodic wankery here, strictly old school Swedish-style death metal riffing that sounds like it's coming straight out of the dark of a cemetery. The very little melody that does exist is extremely subtle, but holds together the overall sound of the band quite well. However, the chugging, headbanging death metal riffs such as those in "Before the Creation of Time" or "Violent Ecstacy" give one a chance to swing your hair around in mid-tempo death metal glory, right before the mid-tempo parts burst into blastbeats and vicious tremolo picked riffs from hell.
The only downside with this release is many of the songs are structured similarly. Not to say Unleashed employs any verse-chorus garbage, or don't tell a story. These songs, like great metal songs, all tell a musical and lyrical story of sorts, and bring the listener along the way through every evil riff and growl. Some of the format becomes predictable, but that's somewhat of a good thing, because the Unleashed style of riffing is ridiculously catchy and great while still remaining artistic and containing an atmosphere rarely achieved by any metal bands, especially today. Get this album if you don't have it, top notch Unleashed material.
caspian on September 6th, 2006
Where Awesome Death Metal Dwells.
I'd never heard of this band until I stumbled onto one of the reviews on this site. Well, I wish I'd heard of them earlier. Why isn't this band more well known then it is? Because if this all of their stuff is as good as this, we're onto a huge winner.
This is a very solid old school death metal album chock full of awesome, and fairly different riffs. Before the Creation of Time has some awesome galloping riffs, before breaking into some cool blast beats, and then going into a half time break... all in the space of the first 2 minutes. If they had Eyes crawls along at a fairly slow tempo, but is still a super powerful song. The drumming, while simple, is excellent, and definite proof that Death Metal don't need Double Bass throughout every song. (Unless if you're Nile.) ..And the Laughter has died is a fairly speedy tune, before going into a kind of super heavy Black Sabbath thing. Very effective Guitar parts in that song, indeed, the whole album is full of well thought out guitar arrangements. There's not a guitar solo in every song, which is good, as surely not every song needs one.
So, the guitars are extremely good, but that's just half the story. While some bands (In Flames?) rely solely on the guitars for goodness, Unleashed are a more fully rounded band. The drumming is never, ever out of place, always playing the right beat and the right fill at the right time. There's not really any "How can anyone play that fast?" kind of moments, but there's still the occaisonal short blast of speed, which makes them all the more effective. The bass doesn't really stand out in the mix much, but he makes the guitars thicker, which I guess is the role of a bassist in a death metal band. The vocals aren't super low, just a cool low growl, but they sound somewhat awesome and fit the music perfectly. The singer also knows when to shut up.. Which is a huge bonus as far as I'm concerned. Often, he'll just let the guitars doing the talking. All of these musicians are represented well on the record by a very good production job. Sure, it's not super clear production, but the guitars are super thick and cut through nicely, the vocalist sounds meaty, and the drums are placed perfectly in the mix. In the context of the songs being played, you'd be hard pressed to do a better production job.
In the end, this is a very impressive Death Metal album. Great riffs played with passion, powerful vocals, and everything in it's proper place. A top notch death metal, and also a good primer for people wanting to get into Death Metal, as it's super heavy without being completely inaccessible. Buy it!
MegaTormentor on July 19th, 2005
ON-WARD IN-TO GLORY RIDE!!!!
It was 1989 when our fat hero Johnny Hedlund was kicked out of Nihilist, shortly afterwards he went to form this awesome band that released Where No Life Dwells (this album) named Unleashed.
Now, to make yourself an idea of how Where No Life Dwells sounds, this album wasn't recorded at Tomas Skorgsberg's Sunlight studio (I don't know if this is a pro or a con.) That means the guitar tone instead of having the typically hyper-distorted fuzzy Sunlight sound has a more warm, dark and inundant thick heavy downtuned tone and the riffing alternates between fast tremolo, atonal and minor scales and licks, and slow powerchord/palm mute breaks. The drumwork isn't something really outstanding yet it's extremely frantic and fits totally with the riffing and as most Swedish Death there are almost no blast-beats which I think it's a good thing. Bass isn't very prominent and is mixed down with the guitar riffs giving their already dark and inundant sound a lower range. Johnny vocals are really original (perhaps he sounds a little like Massacra's Fred Death?) while the great part of Death Metal bands try to use distorted as most raspy harsh vocals or inhuman growls Johnny does deep low-pitched yelling ugly (in the good way) vocals. Guitar solos are short yet intense fast tremolo/tapping alternations that have the same tone of the rythmic guitars. Oh, and let's not forget the "krieg" acoustic intro!.
Where No Life Dwells has a darkened NWOBHM/Hardcore oriented nature of bands like Motörhead and Discharge. Even if Unleashed doesn't really sounds like those bands, they can be called the Discharge of Death Metal due to their raw Death Metal style and their simplistic and effective riffing and darker sound compared to most bands of the time (This also hasn't verse/bridge/chorus/verse cliché structure.)
If the previous description hasn't given you a clue, this album doesn't sounds too much like most Swedish Death. In fact, it doesn't sounds too much like most Classic Death Metal yet it could be enjoyed very much by them both since this album isn't really unnaccessible and is a must have for everyone.
Since this album isn't out of print nor hard to find you MUST get it right now! *cracks whip.*
Snxke on May 25th, 2004
I really enjoy this CD for being one of the more aggressive Death Metal CD’s out there that never weakens or bends to any form of “commercial” idealism...yet still amanges to be be highly enjoyable. The production is dense and warm but also captures the sharp spots in the drumming. (The guitars have quite the bass oriented sound…nice and thick.) Johnny Hedlund’s growl is deep without sounding totally “cookie monster” which helps the mood of things greatly.
The songs themselves are wonderful avoiding many Death Metal pitfalls. It is not too bass oriented and simple, nor is it too technical/dull. It’s fast - yet controlled to fit the nature of the song. The blasting songs such as “Dead Forever” and the KILLER gallop of “Before the Creation of Time” kill. The thick tone compliments the march influenced grooves immensely. The clanging drums add a much night bright sound balancing the attack with perfect aplomb.
I say that this CD is DEATH METAL and this CD is GREAT. If you like the OLD school of classic death metal this is a CD you simply MUST own. It’s technical enough for the tech-geeks to enjoy while keeping the bloody nature of death metal true to itself. Five beers for these men!!! No GO…BUY IT!!!
(Originally printed in Hells Rock and Roll.)
Where No Life Dwells track list
|1||Where No Life Dwells||00:47|
|3||Before the Creation of Time||03:48|
|4||For They Shall Be Slain||03:20|
|5||If They Had Eyes||03:52|
|6||The Dark One||03:39|
|7||Into Glory Ride||03:21|
|8||...and the Laughter Has Died||03:22|
|11||Where Life Ends||04:56|
Where No Life Dwells lineup