Here's an album that doesn't screw around. The Swedish machine that is Bloodbound trims all the fat and goes straight for the core throughout this mammoth display of rocking power metal, that shears the Earth's crust with fist-crushing heaviness and has more hooks than a tribe of wild fishermen. "Unholy Cross" makes strong nods toward the bobbing postulate of a band like Hammerfall, but Bloodbound is really in a league of their own. This is unchained, nationalistic, mincing power metal which shakes the roots of Valhalla and the fiery chambers of Hell. Trickery or gimmicks can not hide from the impending crusade of pure, untainted metal which drips from "Unholy Cross."
Bloodbound had the odds against them here, though. Longtime vocalist Urban Breed left Bloodbound in the dust (again) after the group's seminal "Tabula Rasa," but have no fear; his replacement Patrik Johansson does not disappoint. In fact, his inspiring register nails notes of all elevations, yet at the same time he keeps the darkened theme alive and certainly at its strongest. Consider yourself inept if you aren't impressed by the superior control he expresses throughout killer cuts like "Moria." Still, this band's approach to throbbing power metal in the vein of Hammerfall is beyond awesome. There are eleven tracks throughout "Unholy Cross," and each one makes the adrenaline flow with punch after punch of stellar musicianship.
And that's exactly why this album rules: it's a total display of muscle and voltage. Again coming back to "Moria," there's clearly no protracted guitar solo or unnecessary sections, just riffs and verses that lash and a chorus that grabs you by the shoulders and makes you bang your head, whether you like it or not. And that's generally what to expect from each track: riffs that don't over-complicate the power metal theme and choruses catchier than the common cold. A lot of the lead work here is dazzling too, and the production brings the whole picture to life with a meaty, crunchy, crispy sound which growls between every note and pound.
So overall, everything that could have gone right during "Unholy Cross" did. The sound it has, representing a band at their finest, is impeccable, and Johansson fills Breed's shoes as if the pressure which followed was just a dream. I find stuff like this hard to get into occasionally, but "Unholy Cross" gets the job done, quicker and more effectively than what most would expect. I wouldn't waste any time purging into this rocking chunk of brawn power metal if you enjoy bands like Hammerfall, but you still won't regret checking this record out even if it doesn't sound like something you'd enjoy. You'll hear the opening hooks of "Moria" and forget any doubts, my word.