Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2014
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Like a dream they fade away. - 60%

Diamhea, January 31st, 2014

As our plundering friends in Amon Amarth probably know all too well by now: the double-edged broadsword swings quite widely. This much was evident during the last decade as the band wafted between good efforts: Versus the World, great efforts: With Oden on Our Side, and faceless patience-testers: Twilight of the Thunder God. While the group gained a decent enough foothold with the massive-sounding Surtur Rising, I hate to be the one to admit that they are beginning to let the spectres of past adversaries-slain distract and obfuscate their material again.

From a sonic standpoint, this falls in line with most of what we have come to expect from Amon Amarth. The guitar tone is massive and crunchy, heading the charge as the band continues to experiment with more traditional heavy metal aesthetics like during the main riff of "Hel". That's not to say there is a dearth of speed though, as "Father of the Wolf" trudges along at a pretty efficient tempo as it hails back to the memorable "Valhall Awaits Me". The guitars' tone sounds acerbic and cavernous, with meaty notes ringing out over the deliberate inclination of Andersson's percussive assault. The drums sound a bit too clicky and mechanical for my taste, but the performance is naturally quite solid; even if it lacks the reverberating disposition present on Surtur Rising.

The biggest single issue manifests itself from a melodic standpoint. Amon Amarth's trademark heaviness is accounted for, but the triumphant melodies most definitely aren't. The title track makes false promises in this regard, as it opens with a solid lead but quickly discards it, never to revisit it's melodic appeal again. This does immeasurable damage to Deceiver of the Gods' lasting power, as the measured leadwork is what made former epics like "For Victory or Death" so potent and memorable. "Shape Shifter" tries to summon a decent, groovy atmosphere but it's stock melodies put more pressure on the riffs than they can handle. The band tries to add variety, like the inclusion of a guest vocalist during the otherwise potent "Hel", but it comes off as a distraction more than anything in this case.

At first blush this doesn't come off as offensive as Twilight of the Thunder God due to the still-crushing production, but the tepid compositions seal it's fate as yet another disappointment. It isn't that anything here on Deceiver of the Gods is abashedly repulsive, but it reeks of a phoned-in performance and rushjob all the same. "Father of the Wolf" is decent, grooving death metal. The requisite closer "Warriors of the North" also becomes more animated during it's second half, but this all just makes you wish that the band would take more time and gather their warriors for a more structured, honed assault on the senses. Anything is better than the lukewarm genre-posturing present here.

Solid. Not Amazing, but not terrible? - 75%

CaptianLuckeyBeard, September 25th, 2013

Originally written for The Metal Review.

The melodic death metal giants, Amon Amarth are back in a big way with the release of their 9th studio full-length album, Deceiver of the Gods. This album is released after a two year break following Surtur Rising from 2011. Deceiver of the Gods adds some substantial girth to an already bolstering repertua of powerful tracks that have earned them legions of fans all across the globe. To be nine records deep into a career and still be gaining popularity is a feat not often seen in the music industry in general, much less in the world of metal. Now with such a reputation comes the responsibility to deliver new, harder, and better material with each coming record which is an infinite times easier said than done. Following the success of records like Surtur Rising and Twilight of the Thunder God would be a daunting task to say the least. We are all familiar with bands that have not been able to cope with that sheer amount of pressure resulting in such atrocities like the ever infamous St.Anger or Illud Divinum Insanus. The gentlemen of Amon Amarth however, handled the pressure like the professionals they really are, delivering a very solid record. Easily one of the better records to be released this year, it should go over well with fans. The single and title track off the record, “Deceiver of the Gods” had seen a very strong positive response which bodes well for the record as a whole. At the current point in time, they are working on a music video for the song “Father of the Wolf” and based on the trailer recently released, in true Amon Amarth form, it looks to be full of blood, vikings killing things, and epic shots of long flowing hair being whipped around in various stages of headbanging and windmilling.

Deceiver of the Gods opens with its title track, which is an odd and rather boring place for it, but that’s irrelevant. The title track is a strong way to start of the record, very aggressive with memorable hooks to suck in the listener. The second track, “As Loke Falls”, one of my favorites off the record, starts off with a slower, almost atmospheric guitar line over pounding drums, the classic suspenseful build up to the song. The drums give way to a simple tapping riff played out on its own in an effort to pique curiosity before slamming you in the face with a full blast of thundering drums and powerful guitars. It might just be me, but this build up would be a perfect segway to an adrenaline fueled, raging Wall of Death. The song doesn’t relent at all, barraging the listener with aggressive tremolo picking and brutal vocals until the very end where you’re left with a beautiful outro of epic guitar harmonizations.

Working deeper into the record, “Under Siege” is a great example of the signature sound Amon Amarth is known to deliver. A brilliant mix of melodic grooves and thundering gallups, all to be tied together in the end in a glorious fashion. The bass is left out on its own, rolling into a punchy tapping riff that sits deep in your skull only to be joined by heart-wrenching melodies and screams that wouldn’t be out of place in a dramatic battle cry from days past. I did get a kick out of hearing the intro of “Blood Eagle” which sounded like a man taking an axe to the chest a few times after which his ribcage presumably was crushed, judging by the wonderful sound effects.

Throughout this record, I’m met with this nagging feeling of deja-vu. After 19 years of writing and performing music, one would anticipate a little more variety and an increase in complexity. Understandably, some of the riffs run dry and feel a bit regurgitated, lacking that driving inspirational feeling that culminated so well on Surtur Rising, however I don’t see this as a big of an issue as its already being made out to be. To me, Amon Amarth has carved out their own niche in the same way bands like Cannibal Corpse have. These bands have the market cornered and have created their own signature sound that they’ve stuck with for better or worse. In a sense, they’ve established who they are and what they do and that’s what they put on the records, their latest interpretation of their signature style. While this may lead to some recycling of riffs and themes, bands like Amon Amarth are generally the most consistent in producing solid records that often don’t disappoint, but aren’t nearly as impressive. While fans might not lose their minds over this latest record, it is definitely a solid record nonetheless and has already broken into the top of the charts all over the world. Just be grateful they didn’t pull a Morbid Angel and take a hard right turn off the edge of rationality into the abyss that is “too extreme”. For fans of any kind of metal, I can safely recommend this album, knowing it will appeal to many a metalhead the world over.

More of the same? - 87%

Andromeda_Unchained, August 29th, 2013

Amon Amarth have been on a face ripping spree for years now, and they’ve yet to misstep since the incredible With Oden On Our Side. Their ninth album Deceiver Of The Gods is no different, proving Amon Amarth to again be the complete masters of their craft. Whilst a lot of people are going to proclaim this as more of the same (never a bad thing with these guys), I would say that there are a few elements added to the melting pot which help keep this from being Surtur Rising MK II or Twilight Of The Thunder God MK II.

From the get go I’d say one of the main factors which helps differ this release are the glossy, expertly articulated riffs, which are without a doubt the most refined I’ve heard Amon Amarth sound in this department. I feel this is what they’ve been building up to since at least Thunder God, with the melodic, Iron Maiden style elements really becoming more apparent in their sound. I’d also say the lead guitars – which have, and will likely always be relatively minimalistic – sound their finest here. Another interesting element, which I think will likely remain personal to Deceiver Of The Gods is Messiah Marcolin’s guest vocal slot on “Hel”. His vocals are really well integrated alongside Johan Hegg’s growls, definitely breaking some new ground for the band with some excellent middle eastern vibes largely brought to the table via Messiah’s vocals.

On the subject of vocals, I have to say Johan Hegg sounds without a doubt the finest he ever has. His growls are crisp, perfectly decipherable and sound flat-out great. As for the rest of the band, well this is Amon Amarth and at this point in their career it’s clear they’re masters of their craft. All of the songs bring something to the table, from rip-roaring smokers like “Coming Of The Tide” and “Blood Eagle” with it’s Slayer style swagger to cracking melodic numbers like “As Loke Falls” all a way to the epic closer “Warriors Of The North” which nigh on steals the show right at the end.

For this being their ninth full-length I’d say Amon Amarth sound exactly where they want to be in their career. There are enough newer elements on Deceiver Of The Gods to keep this from being a mere rehash of x album, and the performances are as hungry and potent as they have ever been. Certainly one of the better albums I’ve heard this year, I can’t think of any reason why you shouldn’t pick this up.

Predictable Approach, Predictable Results - 77%

karma_sleeper, July 20th, 2013

For the past several years now, Amon Amarth has been releasing stylistically consistent melodic death albums. Deceiver of the Gods is no different. If you are even remotely familiar with the band’s last two efforts, you will find this latest release quite enjoyable. Yet again, lyrics expound the wondrous feats and violent brutality of Norse mythology while instruments bombard the ears with catchy riffs and fast paced songs. Surprisingly, after several albums of pretty much the same formula, it still works.

The songs here follow what is fast becoming the Amon Amarth formula and this is not a bad thing at all. This time around, tracks like “Blood Eagle” and “Shapeshifter” have a strong, relentless thrash vibe and are riddled with tremolo picking goodness. Other songs resound with NWOBHM riffs and still others have the staple guitar melodies and harmonies that have been with the band through many albums, particularly Surtur Rising and Twilight of the Thunder God. One track, “Hel,” features Messiah Marcolin, formerly of Candlemass. This song is slower than the rest of the album but fits Marcolin’s vocals perfectly. While the overall production is great here, things sometimes sound mechanical. I appreciate that while Amon Amarth’s drumming is pretty cymbal intense; the mixing prevents it from overshadowing the meaty riffs and catchy harmonies. This album also feels bassier than previous efforts.

Throughout the album, there is a very consistent pace and the songs change little in tempo. With frequent listens, songs blur together and it isn’t until you’re hit with a catchy hook or a guitar lead that you realize, oh, this is indeed a new song. One would think that, for an album dealing with complex mythological stories and cataclysmic events, you would find more variation between and within the songs. Alas, this is not so, and I feel it is the primary reason other reviewers seem to find the album a bit stale and lacking. And this is a big contrast to the band’s previous two albums which had wide variations in style and pace, so it’s easy to see why the less hardcore fans will be disappointed.

Despite this lack of variety, Deceiver of the Gods is a solid album with strong riffs, guitar harmonies emblematic of the band’s staple image, and mid to up-tempo songs brimming with aggression, powerful vocals, and captivating lyrical content. But let’s face it – who is expecting variety from Amon Amarth after a decade plus? This band is consistent and consistently good. Some might find it plodding, but if you’re a fan, you’ll raise your mead and bang your head.

Amon Amarth - Deceiver of the Gods - 85%

Orbitball, July 14th, 2013

Aggression is rampant here, alongside riffs that well accompany the vocals. Don't expect exceptionally fast tempo releases to spew out of your speakers, just pure awesome melodic death. I've never been a huge fan of this band, though I did think to myself "why the hell not try this new release?" It turned out for the better because they fit well within the melodic death genre, which is one of my favorite genres of metal. I was expecting to hear an album more brutal than this, but I was satisfied hearing this entire album. The melodies, production, vocals, atmosphere, etc. really blew the rest of the hair that I have left back.

There was a combination of deep throat which went into a transition to high end screaming, especially during the chorus bits. Everything seemed to fit really well in this recording. I'm motivated now to hear more of their material-this is for the fact that I've gained respect back for the band. Some really great melodies on here that remind me of a lot of older Arch Enemy, how the Amotts would have one guitar playing heavy rhythms alongside Michael's melodies in the lead department. That's the best way that I can describe this album's musicianship. Rhythm over lead riffs that simply dominate.

The emotion was really there-hatred, brutality, darkness, destruction that was all so ready laden destruction of melodic death annihilation. Definitely a great original release for this year, which has been a lot of disappointing outputs already in the metal scene, however, I give this one a "B" rating obviously because it is really appealing. Some riffs that occur here really strike home in your memory banks and slaughter the soul! A gripping onslaught of heavy, thick chord progressions with melodies that go well along with everything else that was orchestrated during this entire album.

Only some of the music didn't strike home for me otherwise I'd give it a higher rating. The production sound was well done and mixing definitely held true for this one, I especially think that there was some Hypocrisy melodic riffing going on here, at least from what I've heard of Hypocrisy's newer material. But still since they're in the same genre, the influences are endless. The vocals just own and I like how there were fluctuations in that department. The biggest portion that deserves recognition was the bloody damn well music. At times I felt some boredom though, however, that would only come about because of the mood that the setting is in.

Do yourself a favor and if you're a melodic death metal follower, YouTube some songs off of here to form your own opinion. I've stated mine and this release isn't a failure, it's a triumph. I was appalled to not hear more about this release by other metal friends of mine. Everything fit together and the music is the biggest reason for the grade that I gave it. Amazing riffing and aggression that's heard on this entire domination of metal. Remember, not all metal is created equal, which is a given, but give yourself a break and try to follow my words here not as empty ones, but sheerly a voice of reason when it comes to evaluating this output. Get it, it won't disappoint!

A Strenght From The Gods - 92%

Melo4EverPaiva, July 8th, 2013

When we talk about Amon Amarth we are making a reference to one of, if not the greatest, melodic death metal bands nowadays. Those who completely love the sound of the band don't complain a lot about the sound that has been kept the same over the last years, but most of the people said they needed a small change, at least some new sounds, some new guitar riffs, or some new ideas. Of course, they also needed to keep their unique style that made them who they are today, but they couldn't live in the shadow of that glorious recent past. At the right time, Amon Amarth changed the producer from Jens Bogren (who produced three great albums, we must admit) to Andy Sneap, and even though the changes are not very deep, "Deceiver of the Gods" gives us a fresh air from Amon Amarth, a fresh air that was needed.

In the beginning of the album we can listen to a great opening guitar riff that kind of makes us think about what this album can bring to us. Well, we have some things that have been kept the same or that at least remind us of the most recent albums of Amon Amarth, but let's talk about these 'typical things': the warm duels between amazing guitar solos and fast drums, the lyrics, and, of course, almighty Johan's growls. But the thing that really makes me go back in the past is the song "We Shall Destroy". The rhythm reminds me of one of the best songs Amon Amarth has ever made, "Death In Fire". I believe Amon Amarth did well when they made this song, for "Death in Fire" is considered by lots of fans their greatest and most well-written songs ever.

Those small changes that exist in this new album can be confirmed in some songs like "As Loke Falls" with amazing work in the beginning of the song or "Father of the Wolf", that is probably one of the heaviest songs the band has ever made. The music in "Warriors of the North" is the perfect ending for this album, with the great work of the guitars all over the song, but we are already accustomed to great music in the end of each Amon Amarth album, just like "Embrace of the Endless Ocean", "Doom Over Dead Man", and "Prediction of Warfare" (just referring to the most recent albums).

We also have time for a few surprises, like the end of "Under Siege", with good bass work and a smooth sound in the very end of the song. I have always been waiting for Amon Amarth to do something as great and as melodic as this "Under Siege" finale and I am glad they realized that it would fit perfectly in their music. The guest singer for this album is Messiah Marcolin, much different from LG Petrov who had the same role in "Twilight of the Thunder God", in the song "Guardians of Asgaard". In "DOTG", the former singer of doom metal band Candlemass creates an interesting contrast with Johan Hegg, for Messiah's clean vocals are much different from Johan's growls. The song "Hel" becomes interesting because of that. That sick beginning of the song "Blood Eagle" makes me think about the wars all the Vikings have fought, which is exactly what Amon Amarth like to write about.

In the end, this is an album much more focused on the melodies than its ancestor "Surtur Rising", but is much more loose. This album is made not to disappoint the fans, but the opinions I've heard are sometimes too different. However, this album has potential to be in the Top 20 metal albums of the year. They really have strength from the gods that makes them head out to sea with no fear and march to destiny, with no fear or remorse for death or victory.

Tired and uninspired for an ode to Ragnarök... - 55%

absurder21, July 2nd, 2013

When it comes to metal, there’s a large variety of ways a band can find their sound. Some start off with an obvious influence and then work their way into their own identity, sometimes sounding surprisingly different from where they end. Then, there are some who manage to assume an identity decently soon, and then keep that same sound forever. And to a lot of metal fans, in theory, the constant cloning direction is generally not a pro (albeit sales and execution speak otherwise most of the time), as there are a lot of bands that will only play their style with limited variance, and the predictability of their music creates stagnation in the interest amongst their fans. But then you have bands like Amon Amarth, who despite more or less playing the same Viking-themed melodic death metal for the past nineteen years (Holy shit, 19 years already!?!?!), have managed to stay irritatingly consistent in not only style, but quality as well (blowing us away as recently as 2011). This is a band that a lot of metal heads have been waiting to see fail, not out of any particular spite, but just out of the expectation that goes up, must come down.

Okay, so I guess I’ll answer this question quickly with a straight-forward: Nyep. A combination of no and yep. The riffing is still definitely pure Amon Amarth; laden with their bouncing, low-end heavy melodic death metal riffs equipped with melancholic or epic duel-lead guitar harmonization’s, playing Viking-esque melodies over thunderous, war-like drumming. There are still marching ballads and a brutal, beautifully coherent Viking-growl performance from Johan Hegg. Unfortunately, however, none of the songs particularly stand out. There are songs on Deceiver of the Gods where I can hear where the song is attempting a hook/chorus, but so often they just slide into it so seamlessly with little care for flair and UMPH!, that there’s little power and no emotion, or any draw, to the bit. And really that’s the problem with this record, its musical habits and approach is just so homogeneous. It’s never really too fast and never really slow, just kind a generally mid-paced as it either chugs or marches along. I think what made the last record, Surtur Rising, so surprisingly good was that they really went all over the place in style and pace; there were songs that hinted at almost pure death metal, like the early records, while a few took the catchy, chorus-heavy, power metal route hinted on Twilight Of The Thunder God while keeping the powerful balladry and passion of With Oden On Our Side. That gave the record huge variety and broke up the seams of the songs nicely, so not only could you tell when you we’re listening to a new song, it also held an engaging, diverse emotional narrative – like any good story or continuous piece of art should. On here, the approach’s always come off as so passionless, so it’s hard to get a boost of energy from any of the songs.

As I mentioned before, the band did a really good job at mixing all their previous “sounds” together on the 2011 release, and I think they did attempt that again this time. The problem here though, however, was the whole “lack of power” habit they have here, so instead of songs sounding like their either Death or Power-based, there all somewhat watered down, and considering power and death’s common lineage, the result ends up being something more along the lines of bouncy, melodic half-thrash, which is a sound popular metal drove into the ground about 8 years ago, and to me and a lot of metal fans, has little appeal anymore. The album starts off at about its fastest with a vikingy-semi thrasher, and that’s about the most violent this record gets. I suppose the things that do somewhat save this record for me, however, are the duel leads, which they still manage to do well, albeit still in sparing amount. They tended to save their best tremolo-picked rhythm riffs for these parts as well, so if you are to mention when the members of Amon Amarth did their best here, it’s probably going to be isolated to those specific moments as well. The only other highlight on this record would be on the track Hel, which features former Candlemass vocalist, Messiah Marcolin. The song definitely takes a more Candlemass-ian tone as well, adopting the ominous, witchcraft-like persona as well, which they do by adding darker, chugged riffs which are eventually lead by eastern-inspired keyboard melodies and Messiah’s trademark, haunting-opera-howl style.

In the end, for an album based around Ragnarök: the destruction and rebirth of man, the gods and the world, it’s pretty uninspired. I would think this would be an album where one would turn the extremity and energy to the max, not plod along like you’re on a jog. Hell, even if they’d just done something slowed down but different, and used Messiah’s guest as a way to complement something more along the lines of epic Doom metal would have made more sense for the amount of energy they used, and it could have worked stylistically since it’s a pretty bleak, but monolithic event. So while on a superficial level, everything is as normal for Amon Amarth, they’ve really kind of dropped the ball in terms of performance and vision here, and I feel that one will notice immediately after one play through as well. It just sounds like Amon Amarth jamming and improvising, sometimes verging on something good enough that a song could be based around, but ultimately staying with their respective, playing comfort spaces, as to avoid losing the song’s direction. I’m not really surprised though, considering it was only a year and a half since the last record, which is a pretty brief time for a band who’s touring heavily as well. I’d suggest these guys take at most, a three year creative break when writing albums from now on, because I don’t think they can shoot out a spree of amazing albums this late in their career on such short notice, and I don’t really think anyone can. Amon Amarth fanbois will undoubtedly enjoy this, but even they will sense a level of flaw to it.

{Originally written as Adam for AXIS OF METAL http://axisofmetal.com/2013/06/amon-amarth-deceiver-of-the-gods-review/] )

This is the sound of Stockholm - 87%

lordazmolozmodial, June 26th, 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, the fucking Viking death metal riffs are coming toward your speakers to crack your walls with more roughness and brutality, the Swedish monsters Amon Amarth are back with another hammering release for all the fans of death metal music. "Deceiver of the Gods" is the 9th full-length album for Amon Amarth, and its also the 9th full-length album to be released by the exceptional extreme metal label Metal Blade Records.

The melodic and Viking musical style of Amon Amarth hasn't changed for years and this musical constancy has helped the band reach beyond Europe and hit the limit of the Earth with excellent music and performance, and here is "Deceiver of the Gods" proving that the original sound of Amon Amarth cannot be copied by any band except Amon Amarth. Though I am hearing a big semblance between this album and the previous releases, I can't but love every single moment in this melodic and brutal immorality. Here Andy Sneap (the known guitarist from Sabbat) is handling the mastering and the production for the first time in the discography of Amon Amarth and I think the result is really satisfying for all the fans of extreme and fast metal music. The roaring vocal sound and the slamming sound of the guitars are supported by the slashing sound of the drums and the deep sound of the bass, and the total sound created on this album is on the same level of the previous 2 albums (and maybe better).

The tracks "Deceiver of the Gods" and "Shape Shifter" have been released before the release of the album and these tracks gave the fans a good indication of how the album will sound. The headbanging rhythmic guitars and the pounding drumming were the main musical themes of these tracks, and of course I can't ignore the very strong vocals of Johan Hegg that gave the whole album mightiness and strength. Tracks like "Father of the Wolf" and "Under Siege" have really caught my attention, the sound of Stockholm death metal force you can headbang to even if you're on your deathbed. The melodies of the lead guitar have always been charming and catchy in the music of Amon Amarth, and in this album the tracks "As Loke Falls" and "Under Siege" represent the best lead guitar lines to bleed the ears of all the melodic death metal fans in the world. The legendary vocalist Messiah Marcolin has been featured in the track "Hel" and this was actually the biggest surprise in this album, especially for the worshipers of this amazing vocalist.

If you're a death metal fan and you're searching for one of the best death metal releases of the year, then you have to get yourself a copy of this album immediately. As a fan of Amon Amarth, I liked the tiny new elements that the band has added in this release, but I defiantly needed to hear more fresh material. If you hated Amon Amarth before this release, then there's no chance that you'll love them now, but if you're already a fan, then I guess you'll like every single moment in this record. This is the sound of Stockholm that will never let you down.

Originally written for:
www.jorzine.com

Loftier lore, predictable approach. - 87%

hells_unicorn, June 25th, 2013

Amon Amarth has been at it for a fairly long time, yet only within the past 7 years have they settled into a particularly comfortable stylistic niche and find themselves revisiting nearly the exact same territory with each passing album. Though some will hint at traces of their stadium friendly brand of melodeath being present circa their lauded 2001 album "Crusher", it wasn't until the heavily popular "With Oden On Our Side" that the almost power metal leaning consistency of their songwriting became apparent. Naturally those who preferred the Swedish sound of the early 90s when At The Gates was raging at full speed and the other 2 members of the Gothenburg trio were just getting started are a bit skeptical of a band that has all but embraced the catchiness of rock radio while maintaining the vocal persona and heaviness that keeps them outside of the area inhabited by the likes of fellow Swedish darlings of the power metal scene Sabaton.

"Deceiver Of The Gods" has very little contrast to it when dealing with "Surtur Rising" or "Twilight Of The Thunder God", save perhaps that here Amon Amarth has opted to get a bit fancier, a little catchier, and are keeping the tempo on the upper end. The songs themselves delve into the subject of Norse mythology a bit more than the historic exploits of the Vikings themselves, and along for the ride comes an approach to songwriting that is, interestingly enough, a bit more thrashing and yet also a bit more folksy. Occasional clean guitar passages filter out of the intro to the opening title song and the mid-tempo lighters blazing anthem "Under Siege" that almost point directly to the period sound of early Ensiferum, though no period instruments are employed. Simultaneously, the meat and potatoes of "Deceiver Of The Gods" brings in a slight Bay Area feel to complement a string of melodies and riffs that are quite similar to "Twilight Of The Thunder God", to speak nothing for the pummeling fit of thrashing rage that is "Blood Eagle".

In spite of all the unsubtle nods to latter day Testament and a number of folk bands from neighboring Finland, the prime feature of this album is its animated feel and unrelenting appeal to consonance in spite of the frosty ugliness of Hegg's guttural shouts. The songs that stick out the most, namely "Father Of The Wolf", "Coming Of The Tide", "Deceiver Of The Gods" and the surprisingly compatible merger of Amon Amarth with Messiah Marcolin "Hel", do so primarily because they tend to reaffirm elements that this band has found themselves referring back to of late when appealing to their base. The songwriting process is quite simple and borderlines on pop formulation, in spite of the presentation itself being way too aggressive for anything that the average post-grunge drone or pop punk would even contemplate messing with. Sure, there's a nice guitar solo here and there (particularly that of "Father Of The Wolf"), but the songs are largely built off of 3 or 4 different riffs and rarely veers off a basic rhythmic structure with a singing melody/harmony going on within the music.

Having said all of that, there was one truly shining moment to this album that makes its contrast with previous works, and that is the epic closer "Warriors Of The North". While not terribly more complex than anything else on here, the brilliant interplay between the instruments and the layering of clean and distorted guitar themes is nothing short of brilliant, bringing up memories of the majestic character of Ensiferum's "Heathen Throne", a song that itself sounded like it was influenced by early works by this band. It's a little bit plainer and stricter in its approach than the aforementioned song, but it accomplishes a similar sense of lofty imagery of warriors marching off for glory in the merciless snow-covered wastelands of the north.

It's a foregone conclusion that if any album that this band has put out since 2006 has agreed with you, this one will too. This band makes waves through a combination of quality and consistency, perhaps sacrificing originality in the process, but getting the job done regardless. They are essentially the ideal melodic death metal band for those not inclined toward death metal, which is not always seen as a good thing, but it agrees with the musical sensibilities of this reviewer, who is himself not averse to old school death metal nor all of its recent off-shoots. I still tend to prefer "Surtur Rising" a bit more, but this one is drawn from the same glorious strain and will likely be equally loved by all who were taken in by that one 2 years ago. Raise your goblets of mead to the sky once more, for the old Norse gods still seem to have a reputable group of bards to continue telling the tale.

I'm Drawing A Blank - 48%

OzzyApu, June 25th, 2013

Amon Amarth catch my attention with each of their albums. I began skipping every other album since things started getting superfluous, but the general formula is something I appreciate. When the music starts to become duly, such as coming into existence only because Amon Amarth have to keep making music, then it gets pointless. Amon Amarth's brand of melodic death is easy to recognize, but even easier is to identify the stock riffs and unmemorable choruses that go with it. Plus that cover art's goofy in a bad way.

The usual slash of riffs colliding with thunderous power meanders with tenuous effectiveness here. It's a shell of the band's past performance, with less inspiration and more force of habit. I'm into Amon Amarth with spiraling, epic leads and colossal riffing, but that's spread thin now. I've heard more aggression and passion in As I Lay Dying songs, and that's being said as a fan of both bands. "As Loke Falls" has the tumultuous approach that I'm talking about in certain riffs, but it gets bogged down by lazy writing. It's like they got trapped in their own pool of riffs and could only muster a limited amount corresponding pieces for each song. The title track is a prime example of how to fuck up the momentum before the album even gets going. Compare that to the opener of Surtur Rising, which combined a tsunami-like tempo with bulky growls and tasteful leads to create something memorable and timeless.

I can't fault the production, either, since it's still ripe and meaty (Sneap's productions can become stale, but I feel as though it works here). The bass' sustain is hefty and the riffs are still long-lasting and fat. "Under Siege" even has a great bass section that's like a pulsating beat carrying the song forward. The drum kit's a tad metallic with the snare but it's otherwise suitably smooth. The instruments are clearly mixed and come together well, but I'm just not feeling it in the music between Johan's gaping growls and the guitars. Not a lot feels right, as if it could have been written far better than it turned out. "Father Of The Wolf" for instance starts out immensely with its textbook Gothenburg riffs, but then it ends up in power metal territory. It works there, but too often on the album do the band's melodies teeter or end up sounding contrived as a result of unnatural transitions. For instance, "We Shall Destroy" sounds like a Bolt Thrower song sapped of life as it employs bouncy riffs and that tank-roll drumming. Opposite to that is the plodding rocker "Hel" with Messiah Marcolin sounding like an out-of-tune ass.

The closer, "Warriors Of The North," is what I don't want to be hearing from the band this late in their career. The gash of harmonized leads and freer drumming envelops the rigorous riffs and tremolo picking, but the rhythm's decent enough so as to absorb the character. However, it's too long - like taking a modern Dark Tranquillity song and putting it on life support. It becomes unmemorable halfway through and the band figures that by burying itself in redundancy the song would somehow turn out fine. Go back to "Prediction Of Warfare" from With Oden On Our Side and you'll hear elegance in melodic death that didn't amount to being boring. It felt genuine with that warm atmosphere and titanic scope. Not like the desiccated droll the band is dishing out with this album.

What's cool to me is the heavy / power metal influence in the song "Coming Of The Tide". It's pretty standard, but it's got more catchiness than the tired and tried melodic death ones. Something like that is stronger in keeping me interested, but Amon Amarth got too comfortable with themselves and went for banality. Surtur Rising was more potent than this, and the originality of that is only a hair above this one. Even with talk of originality out of the picture, I'm not sold on the unity and direction. There are a couple good tracks, but Deceiver Of The Gods is one unsavory offering. Best look back on past success for enjoyment from these guys.