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So here we have Amon Amarth's fifth full-length Versus the World...cough, I mean Fate of Norns which sadly holds the position of being my least favorite Amon Amarth album, and arguably their least interesting.
As with Versus the World downgrading from The Crusher, Fate of Norns provides us with yet another downgrade. Everything from the production to the track listing feels kind of half-baked. The band seem so content to plow through the motions, there isn't even a shred of conviction in the performances, with the exception of Johan's vocals which are business as usual.
With the exception of some relatively cool riffs here and there I have next to no desire to listen to Fate of Norns, even now I'm sat here itching to put on With Oden On Our Side. Don't get me wrong the album isn't bad, and I'd rather listen to this than a whole host of inferior bands, and come to think about it "Valkyries Ride" is pretty damn cool (with an ever-so-slight nod to slower Morbid Angel tracks in the first verse). However, as far as Amon Amarth albums go this is a bit of a joke.
So overall, this is one for the completionists and the fanboy's. Anyone else could quite happily give this one a wide berth, as I can assure you aren't missing out on much...Okay, okay, download "Valkyries Ride" for your playlist.
You can learn alot of little things listening to all types of different music. Billy Jean not being young enough. Lemmy's preference of female is the highest card in the deck. Not tugging on Superman's cape. Things like that. But in the end, you don't fuck with Amon Amarth! I mean that would be like Loki telling Thor "oh and by the way, I also chopped off your wife's braids last night. Can you bury the hatchet, bro?" You don't do it. They may be signed to Metal Blade and open for Dimmu Borgir but so what? They don't trash hotel rooms. They pillage them. They don't bang groupies but throw axes at their locks. They play marbles with Shagrath's balls while teabagging Akercocke after the show. Putting some Satan metal in its place. Hailing Odin and all that happy hooey, you get the gist. Another thing you don't do is call this album "'melodeath". In Flames plays melodeath. Amon Amarth play epic death metal and Fate of Norns is marked as Exhibit E for epic or for the discographically challenged: their fifth full-length. I was going to prescribe my own colloquialism for this album under 'epideath' but I decided that it sounded too much like a bogus trademark name for the juice some quack injected Chris Benoit with. Okay, that was cold but so equally brutal is the metal heard on Fate of Norns! And yet the melodies employed by the band here make the violence sound so sharp. They make the story of the warring Norsemen so winning. Fate of Norns seizes the day.
An Ancient Sign of Coming Storm. Amon Amarth are death metal's proper counterpart to Immortal is what this song convinced me of. Again, it's about learning things from music! The riffs are cold and fast tremolos. Guitars harmonizing away with Fredrik's drumming evoking intimidation to match. Onwards warpath. Always blazing. At 3:26 the song fades down depicting the eye of the storm that accompanies an oncoming Viking battle. Johan Hegg growls describe the scenery; blood, wooden arrows, bad weather and the will for victory. The following track starts slow and you can hear an eerie wind blow before anything. I really like how the band sets the album up this way by providing an epic atmosphere. Almost all their albums begin with songs just as fast as An Ancient Sign and the second songs may be faster or perhaps slower. In this case, what I liked is that the track listing seems particularly stage managed for dramatic effect. The example I use is the Star Wars opening theme with its rousing crescendo that automatically drifts in to the next scene composition which usually settles down low to establish an opening setting which will then typically ratchet up quite quickly as the action takes place. The band does this very same thing on Fate of Norns. It also goes without saying that the record as a whole is a simpler and tidier production this time around. The sole focus is aggression from song to song. Essentially all the music are built for lyrical narration. There are no hooks or extended leads. The guitars are almost always rhythm oriented the whole time Johan sings verses describing Norse battle.
The most obvious thing that stands out is how uniform the songs are. The opening riff of track 1 sounds much like the concluding riff on The Pursuit of Vikings played at almost the same pace too. Some people point that out as one of the biggest weaknesses of this album. I think it works well. Fate of Norns is relentless and doesn't let you take a breath from the action for very long. Similar riffs are employed as quasi-leitmotifs here which is unusual for bands like this. Everything sounds faster than usual despite having an average runtime compared to the other albums. I think The Fate of Norns is probably AA's most simplified song. The riffs and drum beats are pretty much designed around that whole chorus. It contains rousing groove type riffs and a fiery midsection of epic winding down describing a Norseman carrying his dead son in his arms. You can hear the wail of sadness. As I told you, there is compelling drama told in these songs and that's why the arrangements are shored up.
This band is so fucking cool. They compress so much detail into furiously fast melodic death metal. It's like they're documenting while playing. They don't skimp on the estimates either. Hence lyrics like "one thousand men and five hundred horsemen" and "two thousand warriors died that day-most of them Danes." That's one helluva ballpark figure. If only those armies had an S-3 staffed by Amon Amarth.
And when that Viking horn sounds out on Arson, you know this epic album is winding down in dramatic fashion. This is yet another epistolary fashioned song. This one burns appropriately. Soaring guitars and the sounds of flames engulfing the homestead. Revenge is the theme alluded to for the next song called Once Sealed in Blood. It is the final track and I found it pretty weak to end the album. It's got a vengeful harmony running along but the song wholly seems rushed. The drums lose that rattling fury to back the bass too.
Even if the band themselves don't find this album as awesome as I do, I can just turn it up full blast until my room is shaking so much I can appeal to my Amon Amarth bobbleheads instead. It isn't as great as Once Sent but few albums are. The last song poops out and Valkyries Ride while containing one of the best death metal opening riffs ever, doesn't take full advantage of them. However, I'm a big fan of this album. You can even say I drink the "Faterade" and it leaves me with a drunken smile that says 'Got Mead?'
I really wonder why many of my metal brothers claim that this is Amon Amarth’s weakest album. I couldn’t disagree more. I think some of them haven’t given it enough spins, which is a shame. Or perhaps is it that they prefer when the five vikings just pummel things to the ground with their faster and more complex tunes, which I do enjoy greatly. But for me, sheer ferocity and complexity are not everything in metal. And I’m convinced that this is one of Amon Amarth’s greatest records because, combined with their usual display of aggression, it has an unbridled feeling of melancholy none of their other albums possess.
It’s true, this is less fast and hard-hitting than other Amon Amarth releases. Songs rely more on tremolo picking riff repetition, have more straightforward structures, simpler yet solid rhythms, and all eight compositions reside within mid-tempo range, with only the excellent closer “Once Sealed in Blood” reaching some fairly speedy moments. Also, there’s only one guitar solo on this record, more precisely in the middle part of “Arson”, and honestly is nothing special. However it turns out the riffs found here are quite catchy, ensnaring and instantly transporting you to the Viking era. The simple yet epic-feeling riffage of the opener “An Ancient Sign of Coming Storm” testifies that. Thunder of sword and shield indeed!
Most of the melodic lines here are extremely melancholic, not like in a clichéd gothic metal release, but truly woeful yet aggressive at the same time. I found them to be truly moving, especially the ones on “Arson” and the title-track, which combined with its tragic lyrics sometimes manage to almost squeeze a tear out of me… well almost. While most Amon Amarth albums have varying degrees of melancholy and fury with varying degrees, Fate of Norns is indisputably the most sorrowful, and that’s where its strength resides. Perhaps the problem most fans find here, is that it doesn’t have the same amount of “epic glory” and “battlefield atmosphere” as both the album that precedes this and the one that succeeds it, yet it exists, particularly in the tracks “The Beheading of a King” and the ominous “Valkyries Ride”.
As the famed architect Mies van der Rohe said, “Less is more”. All of the songs here are memorable despite being simple, and I enjoy them all, which is something I can’t say about most Amon Amarth albums, especially the ones before this one. There’s no filler here. And the production is perfect, you can hear everything clearly enough, including the rich bass tones of… well, the bass itself and the drums. I think this is a pretty appropriate album for the non-fan to step into the Viking world of Amon Amarth, since other albums feature more brutal and complex compositions yet this one includes all the signature elements of this band. Well, I guess that depends on what type of non-fan listens to this. Fans of brutal death will probably dismiss this, yet fans of classic metal might like it more.
So, let’s see, good songs? In my honest opinion, all of them are worthy. My personal favorites include the opener, of which I love the ending folksy melodies, the vengeful closer (I wonder if they will continue this tale in a future album), the single-like “The Pursuit of Vikings” and the sorrowful title-track.
I first came to know Amon Amarth about the same time this album was released in 2004. I had heard about them from a friend, and at that time being a melodic death metal fan, I felt obligated to see what they were all about. Considering my previous adventures with the melo-death realm in the more familiar works of bands like In Flames and Dark Tranquility, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. After all, the obvious hinting of Norse mythology in the album title had me a little curious.
Over time, as I've become a diehard fan of this band I've come to learn this is actually Amon Amarth's weakest effort. Sure, every band is entitled to a flop but the ironic thing is that this album is not actually a flop at all. Instead, its churns out reliable mid-tempo metal that ends up listening well rather listening spectacularly. The songs end up moving along without a whole lot happening, which in retrospect is pretty disappointing given how albums like "The Crusher" and "Versus the World" played out. All of the albums before this one had at least one or two incredible songs to them that set the bar further for the band in general. "Fate of Norns" has none of this, though the concept of greatness does appear, though briefly, in a few of these songs.
All of the problems with this album are laid out for you in the opening track. "An Ancient Sign of Coming Storm" is an all you can eat buffet of everything wrong here. It sounds great, like the usual Amon Amarth fare diving into the pre-Christian Norse era and the mythology and lore that accompanies it. Yet it really goes nowhere despite being a decent tune, not to mention it simply picks up at the end and then stops and fades away. "Where Death Seems to Dwell" does better, but I begin to see a pattern here. Its almost as if Amon Amarth was shooting for something else here, as opposed to simply running out of ideas. Were they trying to create a more traditional metal album with Johan Hegg's beserker vocals? The end result seems to be pointed in that direction but it doesn't establish itself as a true adherent to the traditional style. Most of the songs here seem grounded in that enigma, trying to become something but not really sure of what to do and end up plodding along in a reliable but unspectacular way for three or four minutes at the time.
The two songs that break away from this and salvage the album as a whole is "Once Sealed In Blood" and "Valkyries Ride." As someone already pointed out, these two remind quite a bit of what would occur on "With Oden On Our Side," which was a better album in every way than this one. The two songs mentioned have a healthy supply of ideas that do more than simply run their course to the finish line. Both contain elements that remind me of why I fell in love with this band's music in the first place. However, two songs out of eight that conjure that feeling do not make a great listen. There is nothing wrong here, but it short changes the listen on everything they'd expect out of the usual Amon Amarth release.
To fans of this band, save your money and put this one last on the list. It is definitely the band's most lackluster in every way, but again, it is by no means bad. The uninitiated listener curious about what Amon Amarth are all about, I'd advise looking elsewhere. "Fate of Norns" does carry itself well, but as I've stated so many times before, it simply pales in comparison to everything else this band has to offer. Its worth your time if you absolutely love this band, but not enough so to take precedence over any other album sporting this band's name.
A gritty and beautifully written album, melodic death metal masters Amon Amarth deliver a crushing blow in their 2004 release, â€œThe Fate of Nornsâ€. Unlike many of their other releases, Amon Amarth experiments much more with melodic guitar work, dryer more technical production, and Johann Hegg uses more gutturals than the screams heard in previous Amon Amarth albums.
The drumming is intense at times, but lacking at too many points to get full marks. Songs like â€œValkyries Rideâ€, â€œAn Ancient Sign of Coming Stormâ€, and â€œFate of Nornsâ€ have stomping double bass, but there are very few snare blasts and there is little variety with the cymbal and snare beats. For the most part there will be crashing of cymbals around each solo, eighth note snare beats accompanying each lyrical stanza and guitar riff, and combined snare and cymbal sections sprinkled throughout each song. The drumming is more of a constant in each song, a safe fallback for the rest of the band to stray from but keep as a leash around their necks so they donâ€™t experiment too much. A mixture of Iron Maidenâ€™s spirited galloping snare and cymbals, and a kick like thereâ€™s no tomorrow mentality, Anderssonâ€™s drumming is not bad, but neither is his attempt exceptional. In â€œArsonâ€ his talent is shown when he employs a marching drum section early on and really gives the song some emotion under the wailing guitars, but this is one of very few remarkable drum sections where Andersson exerts himself but there could have been much more improvement in pace, variety, intensity, and emotion from the man behind the drum kit.
Where the drums were lacking, the guitars masterfully make up for it. â€œThe Pursuit of Vikingsâ€ involves a grunting guitar growl that does well to set off the churning flow of the anthem dedicated to Oden. Beautiful melodies are employed throughout the album, exceptional riffs appear in â€œWhere Death Seems to Dwellâ€ to â€œThe Fate of Nornsâ€ and the final track, â€œOnce Sealed in Bloodâ€. Melodic solos accompany nearly every song as the guitars deliver painful screams to accompany those of Johan Hegg and take it upon themselves to bring out nearly all the emotion of each track with every note they play.
The lyrics and song structure are what would be expected from Amon Amarth, Norse and Asatru religious references, Viking cultural themes, and ballads of battle and glory fill the liner notes of â€œThe Fate of Nornsâ€ and donâ€™t get stale whatsoever. One of the best examples of the cultural references in this album comes from my favorite track, â€œThe Pursuit of Vikingsâ€ where Hegg growls, â€œOden, guard our ships, our axes, spears, and swords, Guard us through storms that whip, and in brutal warâ€. Focusing not only on religion, Viking culture is described in just that short chant as the war-like people, sea faring people, and honor bound people prepare for another famous raid. Another song that stands out greatly is â€œValkyries Rideâ€, a song that even gives Wagner a run for his money explodes both musically and lyrically as the Valkyries pull twisted corpses from the fields of valor to the brutal guitar and vocal gutturals and thundering double bass. The songs are written professionally and with the maturity that melodic death metal strives for rather than the gore obsessed shock value that other bands thrive on. Amon Amarthâ€™s acknowledgement of melody in their death metal makes them much more accessible to new listeners but also keeps them true to their musical roots, something that people tend to forget when theyâ€™re on the hunt for something brutal and unforgiving, but it must be understood that Amon Amarthâ€™s brand of melodic brutality is a very unique type of extreme music and that their version of metal is still genuinely brutal.
This album is typical Amon Amarth, but as was stated above, doesnâ€™t get boring or overused whatsoever. Instead, this album is another fresh look at the band, the lyrical themes, and the entire ambiance that is Amon Amarth. Each song stands out amongst the crowd, and though the production gets muddy in a few places, this album will still quench your Viking bloodlust.
With the exception of “Once Sent From The Golden Hall”, this album has the greatest title of any in Amon Amarth’s history. There is nothing more epic and intricate insofar as Norse mythology goes that discussing the final destiny of Urd, Skuld and Verdandi, ergo the three mystical beings who control the destiny of all who live by tending to Yggdrasil, the great tree of life that connects all realms of man, giant and deity alike. Unfortunately, in the quest for a truly epic album that might top everything they’ve done and perhaps be the final word in an already pretty solid musical career, the band got themselves caught in a bit of a rut.
“Fate Of Norns” is a transitional album, moving away from the band’s older style of down tempo anthems to Norse glory and toward something faster and more ferocious. Many fans of this album have alluded to it being more aggressive than previous efforts, while its detractors note a lack of hooks and a sense of plodding in spite of any ratcheted up riffs. Ultimately both sentiments are mostly right, and this album’s fatal flaw is that it short changes the listener on catchiness, while doing both the epic and the harder edged aspects halfway. Too many ideas seem to start off well and then wander off into a halfway decent groove, and then things just sort of taper off and become stale and unmemorable.
A classic example of this buildup in anticipation with a few solid ideas that seem to lead somewhere yet don’t is the opening track “An Ancient Sign Of Coming Storm”. The principle riff is a pretty solid Maiden influenced one, giving way to a build up in tension that leads to a couple of narration-like verses done by Hegg in his usual demented and guttural manner, and then it just sort of fades into a series of plodding ideas and ends. The title song and “The Beheading Of A King” are pretty much the same story, though they do reach a climactic section that simply goes away too quickly. The only two songs that actually are completely free from this sense of meandering are “Valkyries Ride” and “Once Sealed In Blood”, which listen very close to the style of faster and catchier melodic riffing that became standard on “With Oden On Our Side”.
Although this would definitely be qualified as the worst of Amon Amarth’s releases, it does have its moments. The material on here sometimes gets a little close to a sort of a thrash feel, particularly at the beginning of “The Pursuit Of Vikings”, which sounds a little bit like Megadeth before the old NWOBHM styled melodic material creeps in. There’s not really anything that’s overtly bad on here, but most of these songs just don’t seem to really hit their full potential and just sort of coast to the finish line like a film score composition that is written for the intent of being chopped up and distributed to various parts of a feature. If you love this band and have everything else they’ve done, this would be worth a trip to the local discount store, but it’s definitely not something to sell yourself on the street over.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on April 22, 2009.
This seems to be Amon Amarth’s most controversial album. Many see it as their weakest, while many others see it as the same Viking ass kickery the band have so consistently delivered. I see this as an underrated album. It isn’t their best, nor their worst. It does appear to be largely overlooked as it was released in between two albums that are widely regarded as the bands two best.
Stylistically, it is similar to Versus The World, perhaps less melodic and more heavy. While generally still melodic, many of the riffs are faster and heavier on this album than previous. One thing that has improved with this release is epic atmosphere. Amon Amarth have always been epic, but not exclusively. In previous years, albums may have only had one or two songs with such an mood. This time around, it’s everywhere. Be it the stunning false ending of An Ancient Sign Of Coming Storm, the spoken passage from Where Death Seems To Dwell, the memorable chorus of Pursuit Of Vikings, or the continuing story behind Arson and Once Sealed In Blood. As stated earlier, Fate Of Norns is a more heavy and intense approach to the music. Valkyries Ride and Beheading Of A King display intensity best. The riffs are catchy as hell, and the vocals are vicious.
This album is a lot of fun but not perfect. The extreme consistency of the music sometimes acts as a double edged sword. There are no bad or boring tracks, however when listened to all at once, the album begins to feel restrained and repetitive at times. I would much rather have this problem than an album teeming with filler tracks though. Despite this, Fate Of Norns has great replay value. It has some of their catchiest material (Pursuit Of Vikings) and some of their most epic (Arson).
If you’re a fan of Amon Amarth’s other work, this doesn’t stray from the foundation the band have built in the past. Fate Of Norns is dark, cold, and Viking! If this is sounds interesting to you, I don’t think you’ll regret picking up this album.
Please Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed this album. Between the riffs, the theme, and the quality, I would say that it's quite good, and definitely worth a listen by all measurable standards. And besides, who doesn't enjoy a good dosage of Viking Fucking Metal? Nobody.
One quarrel that I have with Fate of Norns is the fact that it is too bland. Too repetitive. Too dull. Whatever word you choose to use, the fact is this: Amon Amarth could have done a better job with this album. I know that they have it in them. With Oden on Our Side showed us what they are truly capable of as a band. I don't think they showed us enough of the Norse fire that burns within them, that passion that comes from the gods of old.
I loved the first few tracks of this album. An Ancient Sign of Coming Storm and Fate of Norns are definitely highlight tracks. Hegg's vocals, although reminiscent of Odin and Thor, are rough and not done as well as possible. The guitar work is heavy, brutal, intense, and epic. The drumming, although slightly monotonous and simple, goes well with the guitars and the vocals. Despite it's faults, this album is definitely a good listen and worth checking out or buying.
I haven't heard enough of older Amon Amarth to compare it to this album, but from what I've heard this album is a dissapointment to die-hard fans of Viking Metal. If it was any other band, this album would be amazing. The fact that it is Amon Amarth, a band capable of god-like musical accomplishments, makes this album an 85 in my book.
Here's what you entered in the review body for copy and pasting purposes:
I don't know why, but sometimes, I have bad feelings about songs or albums, even before having listened to it. I saw the cover art, and I didn't like it. I saw the song titles, and I didn't have a good feeling about those either. I really don't know why, but anyway, I'm being very negative towards this album (for a self-proclaimed AA-fanboy, that is), while I haven't said a word about how the album actually is.
So, the album kicks off with An Ancient Sign of Coming Storm. The riffs are pretty solid, and the drumming is pretty heavy and stuff but still the song is kinda mid paced. That's o.k., its still pretty sweet, but there's something missing. I don't know, it doesn't sound familiar, while it's definitely recognisable as Amon Amarth stuff. This is something which is bugging me throughout the entire album; the sound is just way different. I'm not sure, but I think I've read somewhere that they've moved to another studio. Anyway, I'm not a big fan of the sound, but, back to An Ancient Sign of Coming Storm: this song does kick ass. I gave it a couple more chances and I've already started to like it more. Moreover, the breakdown-thingy at 3:30 is actually really really cool.
I know that this site isn't very fond of song-by-song reviews, but personally, I find them very useful, and I guess I'll just implement it anyway.
Where Death Seems To Dwell, is slightly comparable to Where Silent Gods Stand Guard, only it doesn't kick as much ass, not by a long shot. It's a bit more dramatic (like the entire album, actually. It gets you depressed, really), but it feels...bland...like its missing a magic AA ingredient. It doesn't have that viking feeling to it, they don't succeed in imagery through lyrics and music as good as they do in the older albums. I guess that pretty much sums up what I don't like about this album.
It doesn't make you (me, anyway) feel like a viking. Like I'm actually at the place which the song is about. Anyway back to the songs. Next in line is Fate of Norns, the title track, and the intro kicks-ass. Too bad the chorus doesn't. Its all just too dramatic. It doesn't fit the intro, which (in my ears) suggests a song about those annoying christians (or something similar), but then it breaks down to a lame-kinda riff in the chorus. Sadly. The songs topic is the same as Ride For Vengeance, but in Ride For Vengeance he kicks the murderers asses; in Fate of Norns he moarns and cries about the Norns' sad fate. Which isn't nearly as interesting as Ride For Vengeance.
Pursuit of Vikings also doesn't really feel "complete". Just like the rest of the songs, it doesn't feel good. I don't know how to explain it, but anyway, the moment where he shouts "ODIN, GUIDE OUR SHIPS" does kick major ass though.
The Valkyries Ride starts out...odd. Then it slows down, but the double-bass sounds generic and lame, and the entire song doesn't kick as much ass as they intended it to.
It's a shame, but I don't even feel like reviewing the rest of the songs individually. The drumming part before Beheading of a King is kinda cool, and overall, all of the songs are pretty much O.K., but none of them are really...great!
Except for the last one. Once sealed in blood has really really cool verses. The main riff is cool, the chorus is ok; this is how all songs on this album should be. And oh, the song is about revenge and getting some guys back for burning his friends alive (as described in Arson), and "He will learn the meaning of pain", stuff like this just kicks plain ass.
The album is good, but nothing special, which is too bad. I'd recommend older stuff from AA; the older the album, the better.
"One man down 29 to go
Consider yourselves warned
I'm coming for the rest of you
And will have no remorse"
Many people, myself included, consider Amon Amarth's fifth album to be the lowpoint in their career. However, the fact that this release still manages to shit over the large majority of Melodic Death Metal releases out there is a testament to how good they are at what they do.
On their previous release, 'Vs the World', the speed and brutality was turned down a notch, and the sound of the album was focused more on epic riffing at a more crushing mid paced tempo. 'Fate of Norns' goes down this path a little more, with the same mid paced tempo intact, but the melodies much more epic and able to conjure an image in the listener's head as a whole. While this isn't the best approach for a band such as Amon Amarth to take, it shows the flexibility of their songwriting skills, as they proved that they can write both the fast, agressive tunes that took up a fair amount of their previous releases and the more midpaced, epic songs that they now write.
Evidence of this is shown in the opening track, 'An Ancient Sign of Coming Storm', which begins with a growl from Johan Hegg before evolving into a crushing yet epic riff. 'Where Death Seems to Dwell' takes a different approach with an atmospheric albeit somewhat boring beginning which eventually turns into an enjoyable yet average riff halfway through. 'Fate of the Norns' is one of the more melodic songs on the album, with the guitars preferring to focus on tremolo sections which play out some great melodies. 'Pursuit of Vikings' is quite a simplistic yet catchy song, which is driven by a great riff that is sure to get the head banging. Up next is 'The Valkyries Ride', which undergoes a few changes throughout with the riffing being more brutal than on previous tracks. While I believe it is a little overrated, it still remains one of the best on the album. 'Beheading of a King' has copped some flak for being boring, and while I wouldn't call it that it still is considerably worse than the other tracks on the album. While the chorus is quite effective and has a nice melody to it, anything else from that lacks quality. 'Arson' is where the album picks up again. Probably the most melodic of the lot, the lyrics tell the story of some Vikings fighting the enemy from inside a house which is set on fire, with only one escaping. It's the longest song on the album yet doesn't get boring, as the melody present is really good, and there's an effective solo towards the end. 'Once Sealed in Blood' is tied lyrically to the previous track, and tells of the viking that escaped seeking revenge on the enemy who killed his friends. It contains some great riffing and is probably the fastest on the album.
However, the album is far from perfect. I said this is Amon Amarth's weakest album previously, and there are a few factors which make it deserving of this title. The album can sound boring and restrained at times, as if they're not playing to their full capacity. While it only happens in a few songs it really brings the album down, as it seems that they're about to rip the chains off and erupt into an awesome fast paced riff, but the moment never comes. On a similar note, Johan Hegg's vocals aren't as aggressive as they were on previous albums. While they are still good and fit the themes of the songs, it would sound better overall if Hegg was giving it his full capacity. Finally, the riffing can be a bit average at times, which brings it a step down from 'Vs the World'. A lot of the time it's great, but then a bad riff will come and really stick out.
With all this considered however, 'Fate of the Norns' remains a great album in it's own right. It's epic, melodic, and crushing at the same time, and while it is the weakest of all the albums Amon Amarth have released, it is still better than a lot of the Melodic Death Metal releases today.
What the fuck happened to Amon Amarth? After releasing the great album Versus The World everyone wanted to know if they are able to hold this great level. But what you can hear on Fate Of Norns is just disappointing. This is definitely the worst album they have released yet.
Ok, “Pursuit Of Vikings” is a very catchy song with growl along refrain, good guitar melodies, pounding drums and Hegg’s unmistakeable growls. And “The Valkyries Ride” is the reason why I started listening Death Metal. Very aggressive with brutal growls and sawing riffs. It makes you imagine a bloody battle when suddenly the Valkyries come down to take the dead to Valhalla. Really amazing Death Metal!
The opener “An Ancient Sign Of Coming Storm” is good, too. Sometimes pounding drums, nice riffs and the typical Hegg growls. But in other great songs of Amon Amarth the riffs are great and epic, not nice. And the drums are pounding the whole song, not sometimes. And even Hegg loses points here: His growls aren’t aggressive like you know it from him.
So now you surely want to know why I call “An Ancient Sign Of Coming Storm” a good song. Well, on this album, it’s good. Because the other songs are simply crap. It sounds like a low produced demo release of some bored musicians. The riffs are shitty and boring, the bass is boring, the drums are boring and Hegg’s growls have a real lack of aggression and he sounds bored, too!
If they were amateurs and this would be their first demo, you could say: It’s listenable and Ok, but they have to become better. That’s not enough for Amon Amarth!
And be carefully with “Beheading Of A King”. This is just fucking crap! The shitty riffs and the growls are hacked to little pieces which don’t fit together. It sounds like an outtake, recorded while the band was drunk. But I fear that they’re serious with this.
So finally I would say: Amon Amarth have lost their face after releasing this, because it’s just fucking crap! Putting the three good songs “Pursuit Of Vikings”, “The Valkyries Ride” and “An Ancient Sign Of Coming Storm” on an EP would have been better.
(Note: Originally written for Amazon.com on 3/6/2005.)
I'm not saying this is a bad CD, not at all. I guess it's just the fact that a lot of pressure was put on the band to make a suitable follow-up to 2002's colossal "Versus the World", thus making the song structures seem a bit forced and uninspired. A lot of "hype" was put behind this CD, (most likely due to Metal Blade's ravenous marketing strategies to make the band more popular and mainstream) and that's where this CD falls a bit short. Yeah, it's Amon Amarth, the typical formula of booming drums, soaring guitar melodies, etc; but two huge things are missing; ATTITUDE and FEROCITY, among other things which aren't uncommon to be seen in AA's music. The whole album just feels worn-down, tired, uninspired, and lacking any genuine feeling or effort. The music has slowed down a lot, which leaves more room for songwriting, but the songwriting, too, has simplified to accessible verse-chorus structures, and the drums have lost that unpredictable "octopus" style edge to them, exception of the first track, and often result in boring mid-paced tempos with little fills or variety. Speaking of variety, that's another weak point here. Whereas "Versus the World" had both slow, epic songs, and the thrashy face-rippers, the majority of the album (if not all) is mid-tempo, creating a large dirge of redundancy.
Some previous underground bands that went mainstream have gotten better to me, such as Soilwork or Mayhem. But the fact is, AA don't make commercially accessible music, and that's what is attempted here, and it just comes off as weak. There is no fist-clenched, teeth-gritting, pound-your-face-in type of AA to be found... This is definitely the "grimmest" of AA's albums though, and that's something I'll easily admit.
However, this isn't to say this CD is "bad", just disappointing. And don't tell me I need to listen to this more just to "get it". I've had this album since the day it came out, and I have listened to it time and time again to let it grow on me, and never once has anything really stuck to me. Soilwork pulled off going mainstream going well because of their diversity in the music, and AA did the exact opposite. You would swear sometimes that you wouldn't know when the song changed. Despite all of my complaining, there are still some good songs, mainly the title track, the catchy "The Pursuit of Vikings" and the haunting "Where Death Seems to Dwell". But the thing is, there aren't many things here that stick in your head unlike previous AA material. There are no "bad" tracks per se, but nothing really sticks out. The whole album just kind of plods along at one pace, falling into boredom. Simply put, it just seems like a filler CD put out to satisfy public opinion and the record compaany.
I hope this only happens one time to these guys...AA are far too talented to make music like this and fall so low. A bit of a disappointment... Maybe they just hit a rough spot, but who knows... Only time will tell.
I heard a lot of good things about this band and being a fan of viking and melodic death metal I decided to check them out. I am glad I did. I liked the album, which is the first I've listened to them, but I was a tad disappointed because even though I liked it a lot, I was expecting more based on how everyone praised this band. I listened to some more songs then from earlier albums, and it is true that while the style didn't change much over the course of the past few albums, this album does indeed sound weaker than what they have done in the past.
There are a lot of factors that make Amon Amarth as great as they are. One is great riffs, which they definitely do have. They also have some very memorable melodies which give the songs more atmosphere. The drumming is also very good, and it sounds right in the mix, giving the song a more full feeling. The vocals here are very good. The vocalist has a very strong, deep, and wet growl, meaning it sounds as if he has a lot of saliva in his throat. Another great thing about Amon Amarth has always been the lyrics. They are always a Viking theme, and usually tell some kind of tale. Amon Amarth's albums are usually the ones you listen to with the booklet in your hand to get the true emotion and feeling of the song. On this album however, while the lyrics are still very good, they don't seem to be as strong as on previous albums. Another good thing on this album is it seems Amon Amarth sacrificed the speed, but instead made the songs a bit heavier and more melodic which does add more atmosphere to the album which in my opinion is a good thing.
There are a lot of highlights on this album. The opener, "An Ancient Sign of Coming Storm" is a very strong and solid opener. While it is not very fast, it does have quite a bit of melody. "The Fate of Norns" is also good because of the awesome melodies, and the fact that it is a long song, meaning I get to enjoy it more. "Pursuit of Vikings" is probably the heaviest song on here, but it also has a lot of melody and great vocals which makes it one of the best on the album. The best song on this album though would have to be "Arson". It is the only epic song on the album and it is awesome. It isn't as heavy and it is slower paced, but the atmosphere and melodies on this song are simply amazing. The drumming on this song is also awesome, as it almost feels like its emphasizing the point of the guitars. The vocals are great, and the lyrics here are awesome as well, which tell about a battle. The solo towards the end of the song is also pretty well done and it is appreciated because we don't often hear Amon Amarth play solos.
Even if this album doesn't seem to live up to its predecesors, its still worth the buy for any fan of viking of melodic death metal, and I will go ahead and purchase the rest of their discography. I also see they are due out with their next album soon so I am looking forward to that as well.
I stumbled upon Amon Amarth only about two years ago, but these five Swedes immediately managed to grab my attention, and I have checked out most of their albums by now. “Fate of Norns” is their fifth full-length album to date, and let me say it in advance: it’s a darn good one!
I know that many people – especially ardent supporters of Death Metal, I suppose – are not all that enthusiastic about this one as about some of their previous albums, the reason being mainly that “Fate of Norns” doesn’t feature any particularly fast songs, but focuses more on stomping rhythms and epic melodies.
Overall, I think that apart from Johan Hegg’s Death growls, which are as brilliant as always, the music on here is very much reminiscent of more “traditional” (what a goofy term!) Metal bands such as Maiden or Priest. Which – unless your musical agenda is strictly limited to ultra-fast and brutal Death Metal, and the mere mention of these bands is enough to make you feel nauseated – is really not a bad thing at all, especially when it’s done as tastefully as here.
The production is quite good, particularly if you happen to like HUGE double bass drums and lead guitars. The downside is that the snare gets drowned out by all the double bass mayhem sometimes, but that fits the music quite well and is not a serious point of criticism. The vocal delivery by front warrior Johan Hegg might be his best yet, that guy is definitely one of the band’s greatest assets and perhaps the best vocalist in the whole Death Metal genre. Most importantly, however, the melodies that are featured in abundance in every song are killer, turning some of the cuts into hymns that are guaranteed to make you raise your drinking horns and/or ravage a couple of villages in Oden’s honor!
In conclusion, while this is not Amon Amarth’s strongest showing so far – that distinction goes to their debut “Once Sent from the Golden Hall”, and while the guys may have played it a bit safe with this one, “Fate of Norns” is still one hell of an album and a very worthy addition to their impressive background catalogue as well as to every metalhead’s record collection. It will be very interesting to see in which direction the band is headed with regard to their next album, though, as they can’t possibly become even more melodic. A little more variety really couldn’t hurt!
Choicest cuts: This band has not written a crappy song to date, and this album is no exception. The best ones on here are probably the opener “An Ancient Sign of Coming Storm”, the crushing “Pursuit of Vikings”, and the closer “Once Sealed in Blood”.
Upon hearing this album for the first time, my thoughts were "This is a waste of my time!" After another couple listens, I've decided it wasn't a total waste, but I still can't completely warm up to this melodic-death snoozefest. Every song on here makes me think of how bands like Carcass and At the Gates did slick, well-produced melodic death metal so much better over a decade ago. The music on here is standard, mid-paced Gothenburg "death" metal with no surprises, and dispite my general dislike of the genre, I liked what I heard coming from Amon Amarth. However, they may have changed my opinion with this disc. The album pretty much runs together like one long track, except for a few standouts - namely the title track and album closer "Once Sealed In Blood". However, two good songs does not an excellent record make, and as a result, "Fate Of Norns" will not be in constant rotation in my stereo. I know this band is capable of more(what I've heard off of "Sorrow Throughout The Nine Worlds" blows this away), but another album like this may cause me to totally lose interest in their output. If the Norns' fate was death by boredom, perhaps Amon Amarth is to blame.
Throughout their entire career, Sweden’s Amon Amarth has maintained a consistent level of performance. You can always be assured that every 18 months or so, AA will deliver another dose of stirring epic metal. Last year’s ‘Verses The World’ disc was just about the best thing they’ve ever done and was just the tonic needed in the face of the more lackluster 2002 album ‘The Avenger’. As a major fan of the band, I was extremely keen to see where AA would take their sound next.
It could be argued that Amon Amarth have hardly progressed since day one, and the more fickle metal supporter would have no qualms in saying that AA have pretty much written the same album over and over for the past five albums. There is some merit in that call, however I point out that as far as passionate epic metal that stirs the soul, Amon Amarth pretty much stand alone among the glut of other Swedish Melodic Death Metal acts. No one else does an epic Viking anthem quite like Amon Amarth.
‘Fate of Norns’ is pure Amon Amarth. However, as far as an extension on their sound it doesn’t push any groundbreaking barriers - this more of a continuation if you will. AA took some major step with VTW in that they opted to back off on the brutality and speed factor. This allowed a heavier, more melodic sound to be attained, as well as exacerbating that essential uplifting atmosphere that their compositions conveyed. Whilst I believe that ‘FON’ doesn’t have the passion or artistic flair that so enamored ‘VTW’ it is most certainly built upon the successful formula that ‘VTW’ portrayed.
No doubt, Amon Amarth is pretty comfortable with the style of music they now write. They see no reason to fix something that isn’t broke - If you liked ‘VTW’ then you’ll find ‘Fate of Norns’ to be a more than solid addition to the bands catalogue. Despite a less than convincing production and a less than instant set of songs, it displays every essential characteristic that AA is renowned for – mid tempo pacing, super melodic leads, harsh vocals and that majestic ‘off to battle’ atmosphere. But, and I warn you again, expect nothing more.
Amon Amarth is still churning out their own brand of quality Viking Metal. But perhaps, it is a little on the ‘safe’ side. Fate of Norns is, possibly, not the monster it could have been (and it certainly doesn’t match the strength of ‘VTW’), but long time fans will still revel in the epic anthems laid down here. Having said that, even the ‘die-hards’ patience might be tested if Amon Amarth don’t come up with a reinvention of sorts on their next album.
The last two Amon Amarth albums did not really impress me all that much. "The Crusher" was OK, having a few really good songs but severely lacking something, and "Versus The World" lacked even more. But the viking metal maniacs have returned with a new album and a light that has not been seen since "The Avenger".
The songwriting has increased a hundred fold since "Versus The World", having overall better riffs and melodies. The speed of the "Golden..." days has disappeared (the fastest song - "Beheading Of A King" - is nowhere near the brutality of "Metalwrath" or "Bastards Of A Lying Breed") but the lack of speed is not an issue on this album. Most of the album is indeed midpaced, but with the many good riffs and melodic passages this results in a much more epic feel to the album. Every member of the band seems to be on top of their game in this album, something they have not done since "The Avenger".
The only weak song on here would have to be "The Valkyries Ride", only because it is subpar to the album (every album has one anyways right?). The main highlights would have to be "The Fate Of Norns", "Once Sealed In Blood" and the slower (even for this speed-free album!) epic "Arson".
Diehard fans will obviously pick this up and enjoy it, but in my opinion this is the best thing they've released in a long while.
Another Amon Amarth album launched with a trademark viking 'Yaaaaaaaaargh' can't be a bad thing. All around, the characteristic Amon Amarth sound can easily be recognized. Nowhere on the album does the band experiment or otherwise stray from the path outlined by their four previous offerings.
Johan Hegg's vocals are sometimes spoken and sound more thoughtful which isn't something that was featured as much on other albums but it isn't very noticeable since they're as deep as always. It fits the general mood of the album which is more on the mourning than on the vengeful side that was proeminent in Versus the World. The music is more melody-driven than their previous works, following the tone set by 'Where Silent Gods Stand Guard', a slower song that stood out on that album full of aggressive songs. The screams sound desperate on some songs, like the title track, "The fate of Norns awaits us all, there's no way to escape", which suits the emotional melodies, emotional in a sending a shiver down your spine only to better break your bones in half later way, of course.
All the songs have that same desperation meets reckless assault feel. They don't all seem to run together though, all possessing a distinctive melody, some with catchy parts to boot. So Amon Amarth are back with yet another slab of their unique folkish viking-inspired metal which, while it's nothing entirely new, is definitely worth hearing as the band manages to once again create music that never gets boring while staying within the boundaries of their particular style.