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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.