Sercifer 19.01.2022 1268

Unleashed interview (Johnny Hedlund)

Unleashed is one of the big four of Swedish Death Metal along with Entombed, Grave and Dismember. And this "No Sign of Life" is a 14th studio album, where the roots of the band remain intact in 33 years of an extreme and musical career. Therefore, Metallerium reached an interview with Johnny Hedlund for the release of this new album edited through Napalm Records.


For reading the interview in Spanish: Entrevista a Unleashed


Metallerium: Welcome Johnny to Metallerium webzine. It’s a great pleasure to talk with you about Unleashed, this new album “No Sign of Life” and more things relate to the metal world. Starting with the question, what does it feel like to be one of the four big four of Swedish Death Metal that has an uninterrupted career? And how is the future of style in recent years for you?



Unleashed: Thank you! It feels really good to still be able to do this after 32 years now. The band is still hungry and we are really looking forward to the upcoming shows and festivals after the pandemic. Our aim has always been to keep to the roots yet still develop the style of Viking Death Metal. And if things go well, we have a long time yet to go.


Metallerium: No Sign of Life” is your 14th studio album and the band has the strong feeling as the first time. What is the formula that Unleashed has to create a new album that continues to push its limits without getting out of its sound achieved through the years? And is there a cliché idea that the band's latest work is the best?


Unleashed: Yes indeed. We always feel that our latest album is the best and I think that goes for most people who work with music. I mean, we would have changed it if things didn’t go so well early on in the creative process. There is no timeline really so only the best is good enough for our Warriors out there. I really do believe that before we start a new creative process, making music and lyrics, our absolute goal is to be as good, or better than the previous album. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s the formula right there. Plus, we have done this for such a long time now that it is no surprise how to make a strong Unleashed song. We know what we like and what people enjoy in our records these days.


Metallerium: Speaking of the history of the band. Unleashed celebrates 32 years of existence in extreme metal this year. So, what are your memories of the early days in the band? And what are the biggest differences that you find today with the past?


Unleashed: Well, I could go on forever about that of course. But I look back at the early days with pride and many fond memories. Some serious good laughs and many great experiences. There is no doubt things have changed but not only for the worse. When we started this, we sent letters to and traded cassettes with our friends all over the world, nowadays you don’t have too obviously. And you almost never communicated to people more than monthly since there was no internet. On the other hand, it was an absolute miracle to finally meet people when you finally got out on tour and actually shook hands. Also, the marketing side of things is much easier today since things are very “instant” with the internet. Back in the day, it took forever to get a message out. But every era has its charm in my view.


Metallerium: You, Anders, and Tomas are the members of the band for more than 30 years. How does it feel to be in the same band for more than 30 years with them? is there a formula to maintain a solid lineup since 1995 with the last entry of Fredrik as the last member of Unleashed? Coz since that year the band never changed the line-up to today. It’s an amazing accomplishment for a Death Metal band.


Unleashed: Thank you so much. I’d say there are a few things that need to be in place. First off, you have to be really good friends. Which me, Anders, and Tomas obviously were from the start. Then you need to have a plan, an agreement on what to do, and what NOT to do. You have to have an early agreement in the band on what to play and what NOT to play. Otherwise, there will be difficulties along the road. You also need to agree that everybody helps out with all band matters or it will be a one-man show. And that’s is not helpful at all. And of course, you need to somehow maintain the hunger for new album creations, new shows new merch, etc. You seriously need to love what you do or it will become a job.


Metallerium: Talking about the past. You played in Nihilist from 1988 to 1989 and the band continues with the name Entombed. What are your memories of that time with Nihilist? And did you ever think of the idea of playing some Nihilist songs live on the Unleashed song set? Coz to remember is to live again.


Unleashed: Well, I don’t think we will, but you never know haha. Well, this period was really a fun time and we were mostly a bunch of kids hanging out, drinking beer, and banging heads together. Ok, much like nowadays but still, there were very few shows to attend back in the day. Not many people knew what Death Metal was in Stockholm where we lived and I suppose things were on the rise if you will.


Metallerium: Let’s talk a bit more about the esthetic of the band focus on Viking subject since the beginning. Where you were one of the first bands to put images of runes, Viking culture into your cover arts into Death Metal. How do you see the global reception of Vikings as in Amon Amarth and many other bands in the world? Do you think talking about Viking themes coming from Latin or American places for some bands is a loss the identity to the culture of their countries?


Unleashed: No, I think there are values in the Viking Tradition that are universal. Personally, I am interested also in Latin American culture and I see no conflict in that just because I live in Sweden. When I hear of new bands working on material with the Viking theme, I feel more pride than anything else. It is all good with me. I suppose if I made a song about the Mayas or such for example, no one would think less of me. Or if they did, it’s their loss really.


Metallerium: There are also more websites or webzines and even YouTube channels dedicated to reviewing albums and even people that upload videos of their reactions to the music which may sound weird probably. Do you take a look at these sites? How important are album reviews for Unleashed? I saw a lot of great reviews from the whole album by the way. How are you feeling about it?


Unleashed: I really enjoy that of course. It is good that people can tell their view on things, and fast too. I wouldn’t want to go back in time to when that wasn’t possible.


Metallerium: The way of listening to music has changed drastically in recent years, coz the digital platforms have prompted fans, especially younger ones to only choose one, two, or three songs per album, and there is even talk that bands should no longer record albums if they don't need it and just record singles. How do you think this could affect the way we make music in the near future? And what do bands need to do to motivate the listener to hear all the songs on an album?


Unleashed: I don’t know if I have an opinion on that. I mean, there isn’t a law saying you must do full albums all the time. Perhaps the future holds a different way of publishing music. Perhaps not. But the formats have changed and I don’t think we should fool ourselves into a status quo situation. Things will evolve from here and likely faster than we can imagine.


Metallerium: We talked about musical platforms, however, there is another trend on the other side in which old formats such as cassette or vinyl are reverted, which together with CD become practically only collector's items. Do you consume any of these formats?  And what is your favorite?


Unleashed: CD and LPs yes indeed. Love that, especially LP. If you have a favorite band, it is a good feeling to actually own something from them, something that you can touch, feel and possibly show your friends. But I agree, it is more like a collector’s item these days. But that’s all good in my estimation.


Metallerium: Before we finish. What are your memories of the specific dates you had in Colombia, Chile, and Mexico in Latin America? And why didn't the band embark on a full tour?


Unleashed: First off, we don’t normally book very long tours because of family situations within the band. But all these countries that we played in a few years ago are on the very top of my memory as we speak. We hadn’t been there before and when we first decided to go, it was absolutely fantastic. The people and the shows were just amazing and we would love to come back very soon. Anyhow, I have a big picture on my living room wall of the show in which we played in Manizales, Colombia with all the warriors in the front. An adventure to remember!


Metallerium: Well Johnny. The sad time arrives at this interview. I hope you enjoy this as I did. Thank you very much for your time and congratulations on the new album. Any last word to add to your Latin America fans and Metallerium readers?


Unleashed: Thank you for your support and this interview! Hopefully, we can return to Latin American shores and bang heads together sooner rather than later.

Hail Odin!





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