As Yggdrasil Trembles (Nuclear Blast)
By Mike Delano
Sometimes “old-school” stuff just sounds old. Take the retro-thrash revival for instance: A bunch of these fresh-outta-high school bands take ’80s thrash metal so serious that they even dress the part in high top sneaks and denim jackets, and that slavish devotion to the time period comes through in their music, which is usually blandly proficient with no surprises, about as interesting as an unearthed fossil from a dino we already have 100 examples of. Meanwhile, the actual old-timers like Testament, Slayer, and Megadeth are pushing forward in 2010 with material that sounds fresh in spirit, not a paint-by-numbers remembrance. Same goes for Unleashed; these Swedish death metal veterans sound as lively as ever on As Yggdrasil Trembles. Battle anthems don’t get much more polished and direct than “This Time We Fight” (Amon Amarth could take some editing lessons from these guys), and the whole record drags you along on a purposeful, forward march. There’s no danger of one-note boredom here, either: “Master of the Ancient Art” has a fuzzy, slow-throbbing heart, and maybe my ears have been sandblasted by too much metal, but “Courage Today, Victory Tomorrow!” actually sounds groovy. Sometimes you just gotta leave this stuff to the professionals.