Unleashed - _Hammer Battalion_
by: Jeremy Ulrey (
Opinion varies on where exactly Unleashed began to slip -- depending on who you ask, anywhere from _Victory_ to _Hell's Unleashed_ at the very latest -- but 2006's _Midvinterblot_ was at least a return to form, if not necessarily the godly heights of 1991-93. _Hammer Battalion_ may be a marginal improvement on _Midvinterblot_, but is largely a horizontal move, neither genius nor failure. "The Greatest of All Lies" features that epic swing-like rhythm of classic Unleashed, yet not necessarily the most memorable opus in the opera, if you know what I mean. There's a lot here that resembles old Century Media DM such as Grave, too, though, particularly on tracks like "Long Before Winter's Call" and "Home of the Brave". Unleashed prove best when sticking to their strengths, and as such _Hammer Battalion_ tends to get better the later into it you get, "Carved In Stone" representing a confident, striking ballast to the disposability of the album's first half, "Warriors of Midgard" summoning up the forward kinetic energy the record had been merely playing at, "Black Horizon" a virtual outtake of Unleashed circa 1992... taken as a whole, however, _Hammer Battalion_ is a fairly expendable sort of pleasantry, hailed today, gone later today.
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