Diana Brancoveanu of Steel And Fire recently conducted an interview with vocalist/bassist Johnny Hedlund of Swedish death metal veterans UNLEASHED. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Steel And Fire: So, let's get straight to the point: [the new UNLEASHED album] "Odalheim". It sounds amazing, and I have to say that I really love the concept. Can you tell us a bit more about the writing and thinking process behind it… especially as a continuation to "As Yggdrasil Trembles"?
Hedlund: "Odalheim" is a book I have been working on for about seven years and it just never seem to get finished, so we figured it was time to release the "chapters" as songs instead. The fundamental idea was to write a continuation on the Viking tradition instead of just relying on past mythology. It all started on the three first songs on "Yggdrasil", as you mentioned. And then continued on "Odalheim" which is the new world after Ragnarok. "Odalheim" is all about the Midgard Warriors that survive Ragnarok and carry on the Viking tradition into the new world.
Steel And Fire: It seems to me that you guys are progressing the musical style — and that your own black metal influences are a bit more obvious. Is this a road you are going to continue on?
Hedlund: I don't think it is all that purposely done. Influences are not something that are an exact science. The roots are, however, and we always keep developing and keep the roots of death metal. Black metal is like a close friend or a family member, so it is also something that is there to stay. It may be more obvious on this album but come next, you never know.
Steel And Fire: Do you feel that the work that you guys and other Scandinavian bands like GRAND MAGUS, etc., are doing, in bringing forward and putting emphasis on the original Scandinavian religion and culture, will change the self perceived image of more than just the metalheads that are following you? Is this your way of reclaiming your land's own cultural identity?
Hedlund: In a way, you're right, but it is also a personal war. I don't think for a second I can change the world. But I can promote the Viking traditions and values to those who give a damn. Others need not bother. Go against us and we will fight back with the strength and determination of a true Viking warrior. But I think it is very important to show to the world who has the right to interpret the Viking traditions and values. The Nazis sure as hell did not. Neither do the Christians of today or any other religious or political dogma. These traditions and values are meant for people of many colours and places of the world. Not just Scandinavian people. Being a Viking is about many things...like how you treat your family and friends. It's in the spririt, not the place of birth etc.
Steel And Fire: After doing this for so long... how do you see the industry in how it has changed and how did that affect you?
Hedlund: It hasn't changed much and that's a bad thing. All record deals, for example, are written by the Mafia way back in the early 1900-something and if I call a lawyer at any record company, they will have a hard time explaining what and how to interpret the legal meaning of said record deal. So if you argue with them… they will just send you a mail back saying you don't understand… while it is obvious that THEY don't understand since they can't answer and explain a simple line in there. Pretty sad. But it is all about power. Musicians have little power… large companies have lots of power and they want to keep it that way… by saying you need not bother about details in record deals, etc.
Read the entire interview from Steel And Fire.