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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?'