Where would Metal be without Unleashed? It feels like there would be an empty void left by a band that has inspired countless Pagan, Viking, and Death Metal bands. Thankfully, Unleashed is going stronger than ever nearly 30 years into the band's career. I recently, I got the opportunity to ask Unleashed Mastermind Johnny Hedlund a few questions about everything going on with Unleashed, including the brand new album, The Hunt For White Christ, available October 26th through Napalm Records. ENJOY!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview!
October 26th brings us the 13th album from Unleashed The Hunt for White Christ. How does it feel to be able to have this album coming out in just a couple weeks?
It feels amazing! We worked on it for around two years so it is safe to say that we are looking forward to hear what people think of it. We are also preparing which songs to be on the live set list and it will have an affect also which songs people like the most.
The Hunt for White Christ continues on as the 4th album to follow the story of the World of Odalheim that you have penned yourself. How does it feel to be able to show off both sides of your creative mind by showing off this saga in musical form?
Very good indeed. Since the book never got finished I figured it might make sense to do the chapters into songs so to speak. And why not, much of the story line is inspired by stuff written on many Unleashed albums anyway.
For those that may not be familiar, where does The Hunt For White Christ fall in line with the story?
The story of Odalheim is about the Midgard Warriors and their fight against the main enemy “White Christ”. The last album “Dawn of the Nine” ended with the song where the Midgard Warriors led by the son of Thor returns to Folkland shores after a successful quest to take back Svithiod and the Nordic region from White Christs rule of terror. Now, as this happens, a few scattered surviving armies of White Christ took the opportunity to attack villages on the South. These villages were naturally inhabited mostly with unarmed women, children and old people. Needless to say they were slaughtered, dismembered, raped and ultimately burned. When the Midgard Warriors arrive at the village it is all too late. This exact moment is what you see in the cover art work. The Midgard Warriors realizes that something must be done, and quickly. If White Christ can do this…what will happen next? They raise the runic letter G over the village for Blot to the dead and for victory in the coming war. And as a symbol of the ultimate act of man – to give without expecting something in return. The Midgard Warriors stand ready to give their life for family and kin. And so the hunt begins,,,The Hunt For White Christ.
Lead Us Into War was chosen as the first single off the album and is an absolutely perfect opener of the album. Is that why it was chosen as the first single?
Not really. The first song was chosen because it had to be that song to start the next events in the story line. But ok, we could off course have chosen another song for the first single release. But it had to be this one as no one to start the album.
Without question, the album cover for The Hunt for White Christ may be my favorite Unleashed album cover ever. The more I look at it, I see all the little nuances and beautiful landscapes shown off, How much time and effort was made to create this cover?
Oh I am not sure how much time the artist (Pär Olofsson) actually used to put it together. It took me a pretty long time though figuring out which sequence of the story line that should be on the album cover though. But I agree, it might be our best looking one so far.
How much of The Hunt For White Christ will be represented in upcoming live shows?
I am not sure yet. But a few songs for sure will be in there. The trick is to play as many as possible but on the other hand after 13 records, well, we have some shit to choose from I guess. Pretty hard to make everyone happy though haha.
Not just a new album to be able to promote, but with 2019 also comes with the 30th Anniversary of Unleashed. How does it feel to be able to have Unleashed, arguably, at it’s strongest point 30 years into your career?
Well thank you very much for those words on the band. I’d say it really feels great. It is no small thing to be a recording and live playing artist for this long. I think most musicians feel the same closing in on 30 years in the music industry. You really have to keep shit together in order to continue with some dignity and quality. And there is much more where all this came from.
In some fantastic news for Americans like myself, you are coming back for Maryland Deathfest in 2019. What’s it like to be able to come back and play for the American fans once again?
Amazing to say the least! And we are very much looking forward to it. We always have a blast playing in the US.
What should people expect from Unleashed as you celebrate 30 years as a band?
We have a few surprises in the pipe so to speak but we are talking about them right now so I really can’t give out any real info yet. Sorry about that. But it will be some nice things happening.
When you’re not focused on music, how do you like to spend your time?
I spend much of my free time with my eight year old son. We do all kinds of things together. Watch soccer games, play ice hockey and soccer, bicycle, skiing, listen to metal (off course), go to festivals and well, all the things I possibly can do together with him. There is nothing better in this world as I see it.
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. As a long time fan of your work in all forms it was an honor to be able to ask you some questions about everything you have going on right now. Before we are done, is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t brought up yet?
OK thanks for this interview! Hope to see you next time in the US!
Unleashed- The Hunt For White Christ available October 26th through Napalm Records