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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.