The Hunt for White Christ is on as Swedish death metal legends Unleashed have teamed up with Loudwire to "Lead Us Into War" with the crushing first single off their 13th studio album.

This new record is the fourth in an original conceptual storyline conceived by vocalist and bassist Johnny Hedlund that began in 2010 on As Yggdrasil Trembles. "Lead Us Into War" is a combustible album opener with cannon blast force that surges with power through eager tremolo-picked riffs, bruising tempo shifts and imperial melodies.

The Hunt for White Christ (album art and track listing below) will be released on Oct. 26 through Napalm Records and pre-orders are available here.

Take a listen to "Lead Us Into War" in the video above then scroll down to read our interview with Johnny Hedlund.

Unleashed, The Hunt for White Christ Album Art + Track Listing

Napalm Records

01. Lead Us Into War
02. You Will Fall
03. Stand Your Ground
04. Gram
05. Terror Christ
06. They Rape the Land
07. The City of Jorsala Shall Fall
08. The Hunt for White Christ
09. Vidaurgelmthul
10. By the Western Wall
11. Open to All the World

Interview With Unleashed's Johnny Hedlund

Jens Ryden

Maybe it's just the title planting ideas in my head, but the atmosphere of this album really seems to embrace the "Hunt" aspect kind of like how Guns N' Roses' "Out Ta Get Me" has that distinct outlaw feel to drive the theme home. How much of this part of the story was written before the music and did these ideas dictate the vibe of the music?

Well, since the new album is the fourth consecutive album dealing with the same storyline, that of the story of Odalheim, I will say that the ”storyline” was already written before the music came to life. Now, I still had to do some serious planning to see which songs that would fit which lyrical theme, inside the story so to speak. And hell, I changed this many times along the road too. It is no simple task I must admit.

Like you described above, the vibe of each song must fit to each segment of the storyline and sometimes that just doesn’t match at all. And yes, the feeling I’d like to create with this storyline is that of a post-apocalyptic world that we call Odalheim and that it sprang from the old world, which is the one we live in today. I guess, for any old vulture like myself, this is much like when I was a kid looking at Mad Max or the like. Only this damn thing kind of keeps rolling in my head and just keep expanding.

This original concept of this sort of New World Viking Order is now spread across a fourth album. With the idea of full immersion becoming more popular in heavy music (as with Ghost and Avatar), are there any plans to expand this story beyond albums - comics, a book, special stage productions? If not, are these things you would ideally like to do?

I never thought of it like a new order type thing [laughs]. The Warriors of Midgard are hardly that victorious just yet. Good things happen in the end of this new album, but looking at the big picture, they are the oppressed minority to say the least. Another thing is that the Midgard Warriors, who set out to hunt White Christ for the horrible deeds they commit, are not all “Vikings” by their own definition, but Warriors nonetheless.

The story of Odalheim is a book I wrote together with a friend of mine years ago. We just never got around to complete the book, so I figured it was still a pretty damn good fit for death metal music. To be honest, much of what we did on past albums, is what you can find in this storyline so it is not very coincidental. The name White Christ, for example, is used years ago before this book idea came about.

"White Christ" means a "cowardly" Christ. Can you explain the acts of cowardice at Christ's hands in this story and why the Warriors of Midgard are seeking retribution? Does this have ancestral ties to Christianity overtaking the Norse mythos or are these ideas entirely new to fit this concept?

Correct. The name White Christ means Cowardly here. As opposed to “red” Thor which would be something like “brave” Thor. Now, the story of Odalheim ended on the previous album with a victorious return to Folkland shores (through lake Mälaren in present day Swedish capital Stockholm). The Midgard Warriors (led by the Son of Thor) had been taking back land by land from the armies of White Christ in most of Svithiod and the greater Nordic territory. Since most men and (armed) women were out on this task, most children, old people and unarmed women were left behind in the villages.

A smaller army of White Christ that escaped gathered up to attack and burn one of these villages. Only one person survived, (but more on that later). Children were sliced to shreds, old people and women killed, some left without genitals and eyes. As the Hammer Battalions reached the village it was all too late. And this is what you see on the album cover. The back side of the album there is a text describing this in more detail and what happens next. But as you can understand, peace is not what comes to mind…

Even with this elaborate storyline, Unleashed don't fall victim to creating music that's incredibly progressive to match, instead expressing a lot of emotion through the lead guitar work. Is it tempting to broaden your sound with more intricate songwriting? It seems what fans love about Unleashed are the digestible arrangements and riffing. Death metal - no compromise, right!?

Thank you! This is how we started back in 1989 and this is how we will continue into the everlasting future. We have much more where this came from and we see no point in changing into something different. Like you said, guitar work and lyrics etc. will always take care of whatever so-called emotions that will out (hence the name Unleashed). Developing is one thing, and you have to or you die as a musician and a writer. Unleashed is a death metal band, or a Viking death metal band if you will — period.

I've heard you're a bit of a beer aficionado. With the craft beer explosion in the U.S. over the last decade, do you feel Americans are finally catching up to the European countries when it comes to making quality beer? What are some of your favorites or is it all imports on the road for you in America?

First of all, there are some great beers in America. Does it compare to the number of local beer breweries in Germany? No, it does not. But I always thought that if you stay away from the watery ones, (which exists to a great length in Sweden too, by the way) you will be just fine. In fact, our tour rider says at least a few cases of local beer regardless of the city we play in and for good reason. If you only drink the watery type beers from the largest breweries in any country, it is going to become a very boring experience. I love beer with a taste and would be happy to try new stuff next time I'm in the United States.

Hail Odin!

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