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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.