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While it is impressive how cohesive the band's approach was by the time of it's release, Amon Amarth's debut, Once Sent from the Golden Hall can't hope to match it's direct successor in terms of sheer destructive merits. What honestly can, though? It isn't that any of this material is bad, but the performance is a little more shaky, almost as if this approach wasn't intrinsic to the band yet. The burly rumble of "The Dragons' Flight Across the Waves" serves as a passable stylistic precursor to stomping behemoths like "Masters of War", but Hegg's diffident inflection drags things back down to earth prematurely. His gravely shouts sound like he is unnaturally stretching his voice to fit the music, which is ironic considering how caustic his modern delivery has become.
Still, even these issues can't keep mid-paced cookers like "Without Fear" from busting through the melodic space-time continuum when the band feels like it. Listen to that opening riff, it rips like no other and reminds me of the gargantuan-sounding title track from Versus the World. The song rides out on a variant of the same movement, making this the best song here by far. The virulent intro of "Friends of the Suncross" open up to more abuse of the minor key that Amon Amarth is so fond of, earning it my melodic stamp of approval all the same. It doesn't even end there though, as the song erupts into a stomping groove that has potent neck-jerking potential and serves as a decent counterpoint to the blistering opening.
The band plays with a near-reckless abandon that is unique to Once Sent from the Golden Hall. "Ride for Vengeance" is a good example of this, coming off as a more spastic and animated "A Fury Divine". It lacks the sophistication of later albums, but is endearing all the same. The sludgy tremolo passages that are a modern Amon Amarth trademark are present here in limited quantity. You can almost hear as the band comes close to the magic formula achieved on later albums, only to kneecap themselves right before the precipice is reached. It infuses the listener with optimism but is at the same time incredibly frustrating.
It is definitely far from perfect, as both "Victorious March" and "Amon Amarth" plod on for far too long. They would be much more searing an memorable if they were more compact like the other songs, but even the best tracks here would be space-fillers on The Avenger. The lower production values damage the potential impact of Lopez's drums, but this is all forgivable since this is a debut. Actually, Lopez may be the main reason Once Sent from the Golden Hall is so much faster than it's younger siblings. He has a decent, unique style on the kit that would have forced the band into a much different sonic landscape had he stayed with them. The pieces are all here, but they had yet to fully cement themselves. Interesting from a historical standpoint, but get The Avenger instead.
This is another one I did for the Crypt a while back that fancied giving the shiny new treatment. As you may have noticed (if you read my reviews) I'm going along the majority of my collection from A - Z in a personal challenge to see if I can do it all before the new year.
So, onto the actual review. This was Swedish death metal superstars Amon Amarth's debut release. Back then their sound still had quite a bit in common with the regional Stockholm death metal style, although they did employ good use of melody, pushed a little further than say Dismember for instance, veering more towards Unanimated levels of melody (note I'm not comparing as similar sound, more similar ideals). It was in the melody where Amon Amarth seperated themselves from their peers, and coupled with the lyrics helped establish the whole viking thing that everyone now of course knows them for.
I really like Once Sent From the Golden Hall and feel it features some of Amon Amarth's very best material. The stupendous "The Dragons' Flight Across the Waves" kicks some serious back-side, with some brilliant riffs and quality melodic themes. "Victorious March" embodies exactly what the song title promises, marching along with excellent guitar work. I had the pleasure of seeing this song live and I remember head-banging myself stupid. That fucking main riff that kicks in after the intro, man; if ever there were a riff to simultaneously bang your head and stamp your foot to this is it. Rounding out my personal picks from the album would be "Friends of the Suncross" which simply smokes, some great riffs and themes here.
Before the boys from Gothenburg came around and sadly bastardized the whole "melodic death metal" thing this was how it was done, and it always will be. Amon Amarth are a quality, reliable band and certainly one of my favorite death metal bands, especially as far as modern death metal goes. Once Sent From the Golden Hall is packed full of great music and is an essential part of any death metal collection, and for that matter any serious metal collection.
The first Amon Amarth song I ever heard was "An Ancient Sign of Coming Storm," and from then on I was hooked. That being said, I've owned their debut album for a long time, but have never seriously listened to it. After doing so, and listening to several other of their albums, I can see a progression in their music from good to great.
Musically, Amon Amarth plays a fast, somewhat thrash oriented death metal, yet they skillfully incorporate melody and harmony into their music. It has an epic feel, has if by putting your headphones on, you're instantly transported into a Norse saga.
The guitars are down tuned, and every riff is a thing of beauty. The opening track, title track, and "Abandoned," have a certain thrash sound to the guitar playing, albeit somewhat heavier, slower, and more melodic sounding. Amon Amarth expertly uses their guitars to create wonderful and aesthetically pleasing harmonies. "Without Fear," the solo on the opening track and the riff on "Victorious March" are prime examples of this. The drums essentially only serve to provide a backbone to the music, and keep the beat going steadily. I feel that the band could have utilized their drummer more effectively but I am highly satisfied with the end result.
Lyrically, every one of Amon Amarth's songs is a Norse epic saga. The opening track describes a father's anger and sorrow over the loss of his son. "Abandoned," tells the tale of a dying warrior who feels abandoned by the traditional native Gods for accepting a new, foreign one, and the beautifully crafted "Friends of the Suncross," tells a tale about five warriors triumphantly riding into battle together. Hegg and his band mates obviously read the tales from their country's history, and expertly merged them into their music to give it a distinctly "Norse" feel to it.
Johann Hegg's vocals are one of my favorite, and least favorite things about the album. For the most part, his vocals are very skillfully done throughout the entire album; however he has his low points. The style that Hegg uses on the debut is different from the more polished, deeper, and ultimately better sound he would use on later releases. Yet on the debut, his voice has a pleasant booming quality to it. Imagine that you're in Scandinavia in the Viking Age, and you're being enthralled by tales of the Norse gods and legends by an expert storyteller that makes you sit on the edge of your seat. That storyteller is Johann Hegg, who masterfully uses his voice to achieve this effect.
However, Hegg does have some flaws. At certain points on "The Dragons Flight Across the Waves," and "Without Fear," he does this awkward sounding thing where he attempts to combine his growls with a combination of a shout and a battle cry that doesn't come out very well. The low points of Hegg's vocals aren't helped by the albums poor production, which produces a fuzzy sound all the way through, and drags the quality of the album down and prevents it from realizing its full potential, and renders the bass pretty much inaudible, at least to my ears.
Overall however, the album is superb and the good points make up for the poor production quality. It certainly is a triumphant start to the bands career.
So this is the first full length album from the metal giants Amon Amarth, and it certainly does not fail to meet expectations. While this is a far cry from the intensely melodic death metal that comes from their more recent albums, this is still fairly melodic. It is still clearly death metal, however, as made apparent by the tremolo picked guitar riffs and the quick double bass pedals in the background. Their style becomes more defined later on in their career, but this only contains a hint of that intense Viking atmosphere.
As I usually do, I will divide the album’s songs into two categories based on the length of the song. The long songs on this album are merely Victorious March, Abandoned, and Amon Amarth, while the rest of the songs on the album make up the slightly shorter section. So, without further procrastination on my part, let’s begin.
The longer songs on this album are certainly some of the strongest, as Amon Amarth and Victorious March have become live staples for the band at their live shows. Both Victorious March and Abandoned are similar in the way they are written; the song is mostly a repetition of different riffs in a pattern that is repeated. In a way, the entire song can be viewed as a refrain in a very mainstream styled analysis. That’s not to say it’s boring; Victorious March features an extensive solo section and Abandoned blows the top off of your head with a sick breakdown at the end. Yeah I called it a breakdown. Deal with it scene haters.
Amon Amarth is an entirely different entity though. It is much the same melody repeated throughout the song, and it weighs heavily in influence from doom and stoner metal. The band adds flavor like tremolo picking that basic melody and experimenting with the tempo with the drumming. This song also features the best(also the most nerdy) lyrics on the entire album. It is a challenge of modern physiology to not head bang to this song in all of its epic glory nonetheless.
The rest of the album contains songs that are shorter in length, averaging somewhere around 4 and half minutes (that is a pure guess). This includes Ride for Vengeance, The Dragon’s Flight Across the Waves, Without Fear, Friends of the Suncross, and the title track. These songs never dwell too long on one riff or another, but are always based around a main riff. The length suits these songs well, as you get enough of everything but it does not feel drawn out.
All of these songs feature guitar solos, all of which are as epic as a lobster knife fight. The best are on The Dragon’s Flight Across the Waves and Without Fear. These are also the best of the short songs, with Johan Hegg dominating on vocals and lyrics, while the guitars remain super fast and the drums provide a nice backdrop of pounding ferocity. Ride for Vengeance and Friends of the Suncross are nice blends of thrash and melodic death metal, and it is difficult not to headbang to. The vocals falter at times here as well the drums, but the guitar riffing is solid here and throughout the album. A word on Ride for Vengeance, now. The song opens the album with a massive chord of Viking brutality that imbeds itself upon your pitiful eardrums. This album happened to be the first CD I played on my new stereo, and, as you can imagine, I had no idea of the volume controls. As a result this chord blasted out at maximum volume and almost blew the speakers, but IT WAS EPIC.
The final track of the album, which bears the same name, is a bit of a mystery to me. I have difficulty understanding it all as everything blends together in a chaos that is rather unpleasant to me. The outro is very unorthodox but it doesn’t work for me. Even the church bells, which usually are a great addition to a song, feel out of place here. The lyrics are odd, Hegg’s vocals strike a poor chord, and the drums feel too random, unlike the precise offbeat drumming in Friends of the Suncross. It is a very poor way to end the album, but I does not ruin it such that the first 7 songs are absolutely amazing.
I also had the pleasure of purchasing the rerelease of the album, which included a live version of the album played in its entirety, as well as information from the band about the recording and writing of the album. It sounds amazing live and Hegg works the crowd while maintaining his roar very well, and the live distortion in the guitars doesn’t take that much away. The solos are even more epic live. The huge (by comparison to other CD booklets) booklet contains a lot of cool comments from the band as well as a lot of pictures from the band at the time. I don’t think I would have enjoyed this album as much without these added bonuses.
In short I would highly recommend to this album, as it contains all the elements of melodic death metal that has made Amon Amarth as famous as they are today. All the instrumentals are there in perfect harmony with some minor blunders along the way. Johan Hegg is a beast as he tells tales of Vikings killing and pillaging. This is a must for new fans to the band like me, although almost anything by them is good (I hate Fate of the Norns). Best songs: The Dragon’s Flight Across the Waves, Without Fear, Victorious March, and Friends of the Suncross. But stay away from the title track, as epic as it sounds.
Amon Amarth, in all their modern Norse power and might, began their career with the EP proper "Sorrow throughout the Nine Worlds." This EP would then lead to a full-length debut, "Once Sent from the Golden Hall." Due perhaps to the raw sound quality of this album (more so than "The Avenger" and "The Crusher,") this album seems to be left behind in favor of more recent outings. While the band's outputs in the last five years or so have yielded some fine listens in their unique niche of heavy metal, its their early career that I believe exhibits the best experience.
On "Once Sent from the Golden Hall," one might be surprised. I was originally curious over this album, desperately wanting to hear it but deep inside wondering if this album might be underdeveloped. I was completely wrong, and in some ways it contains just as much, if not more energy and power than recent efforts. The album also plays a sense of epic strength in its songs, though this comes from the production. Johan Hegg's beserker vocals sound like they emit from a distant peak, as he commands his Norse warriors to battle. This creates a unique effect on songs like "The Dragon's Flight Across the Waves," where at the end Hegg shouts "Attack!" repeatedly, almost as if he is directing his troops to strike their foes. This quality is unique to this album, as it creates atmosphere without the need for the keyboard indulgence of some bands.
Aside from that, the riff attack is killer as usual. Powerful rhythms thunder along like "Ride for Vengeance" and "Victorious March." The unfortunate aspect of all this is that this album does become a tad repetitive. Note that three of these eight songs have a length over five minutes. Most of these do not supply enough ideas equal to their time lengths, though honestly I've heard much worse. Despite that, these three songs are still rather strong in nature, just not anything that noteworthy over more concise and more memorable numbers like "Ride for Vengeance," "Without Fear," and the title track. "Ride for Vengeance" and "Without Fear" are the best of these, the former with its relentless bludgeoning attack and the latter for its melodies.
Despite the repetitive factor that sometimes weaves it way in here (though not nearly to extent of some Gothenburg inspired bands) I see "Once Sent from the Golden Hall" as a milestone in melodic death metal. That's a rather big statement to make, I know, but I can't think of any other band who can deliver such power (notice I use that alot referring to this band) in this genre. Not only that, but Amon Amarth are also a very memorable band and one that several can cling to. Johan Hegg is doing great things with his voice, particularly his ability to be both relentless, but without succumbing to those dumb-assed, unintelligible grunts that are so common these days. Needless to say, Amon Amarth have carved a unique sector of metal for themselves, one I doubt anyone can wrestle away from them.
All things considered, some see "Once Sent from the Golden Hall" as a flawed beginning for Amon Amarth. I personally see it in a different light, one that paved the way for this band's slowly evolving and current, modern day sound. Either way, those diehard legions of Amon Amarth fans definitely need to check on this one while casual listeners might learn a thing or two from this release.
The most consistent criticism I’ve seen of Sweden’s Amon Amarth is that they have consistently released the same album for the last ten years. No piece of evidence does more to disprove this theory than their 1998 debut full length “Once Sent From the Golden Hall”. The sheer amount of growth in song writing from “Once Sent” to their most recent “With Oden on Our Side” proves that the Amon Amarth have been growing and improving over the last decade, not stagnating.
This of course is not to put down their debut. All of the elements that would later be hallmarks of Amon Amarth’s Viking themed melodic death metal are here albeit in a much less polished fashion. All the epic melodic arrangements and slower military marches are here, but feel far more desperate and frantic. A great deal of this frenetic passion comes from Martin Lopez. Unlike the smooth jazzy style he would later employ during his long stint with Opeth, Lopez drives the tempo like a man in fear for his life. This adrenaline charged performance may result in the occasional slip in tempo, but in no way is a detriment to the album.
Of course this is a heavy metal record so the drums are really only a support to the all mighty guitars. Here the guitars are indeed mighty. The production allows for a thunderous guitar sound, perfectly suiting for the charging melodies and driving rhythms that Amon Amarth are known for. “Victorious March” in particular features some of the greatest riffs the band has ever played such as the triumphant opening melody, or the brutal verse riff. The heavy presence of solos on this record also stands out from later Amon Amarth albums. These solos are perfect examples of how to play emotionally charged lead parts without taking away from the mood of the song, a trick many modern death metal bands could use some education in. It’s a shame the production has driven the lead work so low in the mix.
Johan Hegg is nowhere near as brutal as he later became, but what he lacks in skull crushing he makes up for in spades with passion. The man bellows, screams and shouts like the Vikings he sings about with a raw determination that is truly inspiring. His enunciation however is damaged as a result, making it difficult to make out exactly which adventure he is talking about, although it’s safe to assume that some Christians are going to die by the time the album’s over.
This is not Amon Amarth’s best album. At this stage their ability to string together riffs was still under development and some songs, in particular “Abandoned”, suffer for it. The band’s namesake song also drags on a bit, but every time I hear that battle sequence my heart flutters a little so I can’t with any honestly knock them that hard for it. If you’ve never heard Amon Amarth before this probably isn’t the best place to start, but if you know you like them than there should be nothing stopping you to pick this one up.
Once Sent From The Golden Hall is Amon Amarth's debut album, and many people consider it this band's best work, therefore I was very excited when I bought this CD, expecting great things from it.
As soon as the music started, with the incredibly epic and fast Ride for Vengeance, I found myself headbanging next to the stereo. Besides the production (which is far from perfect, although it's not bad either), this very fast track displays many of the things you'll hear on this album: incredible speed, memorable riffs, a really AWESOME drumming and, last but definitely not least, an excellent vocal performance by Johan Hegg. All throughout the album, you'll hear the (almost) never-ending double pedal and the drums backing the epic riffs and melodies coming from the guitars, while Hegg growls and screams very well about revenge against Christians, viking raids, battles and so on. These amazing vocals can especially be noticed in The Dragons' Flight Across The Waves' last section (ROW LIKE THE WIND TO ATTACK!), or during the whole Without Fear (a real masterpiece), where Hegg mixes very good screaming and growling to some almost clean vocals. All of this while epic and fast solos or heavily distorted riffs, aided by the insane drumming, give the songs a brutal speed that can rarely be found in melodic death metal (and even the same band's latest releases haven't been as fast as this one).
While the lyrics are nothing too complex (but man, they're fucking epic!), the way Hegg sings them is definitely one of the best things you can hear on this album. His very particular, "viking" growling is something unique and unheard in death metal, is something that really helps giving this album the amazing epic feel it's got. The songs are all very fast, and some are even quite similar between them, but you'll never get bored of this album, for its insanely quick pace doesn't give you the time to stop headbanging and get bored! The real exception here is Amon Amarth, which is the slowest track on the album. Its lyrics (excellently sang, as always) speak about the band itself, and they mostly do it with a slow, melodic rhythm. You'll be mesmerized by this song's main riff (reason for which it has also become the official Amon Amarth intro in live concerts), and although this song is the longest and the slowest one on the CD, you won't get bored of it. The effects in the central part of the track (with the sounds of men fighting) also give this song a distinct "viking" feel.
The last song on the CD is the title-track Once Sent From The Golden Hall, which returns to the very quick rhythms of the other songs. As a conclusion, I would say that this album is definitely a very good one, which will make your head bang from the first to the last track, and which will have you beg for more after it's ended. And so, I can confirm: this is one of the best Amon Amarth albums, if not the best overall, due to its extremely fast, epic rhythm, thing on which I have focused very much in this review (for it is the most noticeable thing on the whole CD) and also for Johan Hegg's excellent vocal performance. A must for any death metal (and especially melodic death metal) fan, this album is, in my opinion, very influential for the genre and will probably be considered as a "starting point" in the future. So, who said Vikings can't play death metal?
The only word to describe this album is EPIC. This is what we have since come to expect from Vikings Amon Amarth, though this stunning debut is still hailed by many (including me) as their best.
Production wise, it sounds exactly how it should - magnificent melodies on the guitars, thundering drums and of course the ripping, triumphant, screaming vocals. Most of the music on the album is based around the same sort of rhythm, to which I can easily imagine Nordic longboats battling across dark stormy seas. It is therefore the less frequent grooving war-march sections, the odd melancholy solo and the well-placed samples (such as tolling bells and swordfights) that really add spice to the album, making it nothing less than a wild ride!
Something of the pounding repetitive sections such as a few of the middle tracks really get your head banging, and some of the faster earlier tracks are brilliant - all without being over the top. I would usually expect from Viking metal some sort of pomp, but it is not so with this album - there is something very honest and basic about it that I really appreciate. I can also envisage this album never growing old in the metal world - I believe that there will always be a place for this album in the metal (golden) hall of fame. It has a certain ageless quality about it, something that can be accepted by the majority of Metallers, something which can be played between bands at a gig and no one will complain about.
I recommend this album to anyone that is a fan of melodic music, there is something that is easily appreciative about the brilliant writing in these eight epic songs. The best Amon Amarth album in my opinion, and definitely the best starting point for newbies.
Amon Amarth's trademark sound can be described as comprised of three quintessential elements, the first being their raw, unpolished, unrefined but astoundingly effective production, especially present on this album. Listen to something as slick and trim as Arch Enemy's "Doomsday Machine" or At The Gates' "Terminal Spirit Disease", then listen to this. This is raw, and actually ripping brutal as death metal, whether melodic or not, is supposed to sound. Secondly, there's the characteristic twin-guitar tremolo-picked/double bass-backed melodies that are the cornerstones of Amon Amarth's compositions. Sure many bands have that kind of stuff, but they don't do it half as effectively and straightforwardly as the Swedes from Tumba do it. And thirdly, Johan Hegg's sheer aggression of a voice which is one with the music and the lyrics as few others are. There you got the basic formula for a winner of a band.
"Once Sent From The Golden Hall" has all this, and more, namely, the effervescence of youth that encompassed the band in this era. The latter may have gradually subsided over the years, to be replaced by a more mature approach to songwriting, which, however, didn't change a thing about their quality and sheer aggression. Determined from the start to kick you in the face, this is for a surety the band's best effort after their even more stunning EP "Sorrow Throughout the Nine Worlds".
So don't expect a relaxed intro leading up to some stale riffage here. Expect a killer of an opening track ripping the christianized poser out of your flesh, exposing the barbaric Viking underneath it. If you're not banging your head here, you're surely out to pillage your neighbour's house or so. Not that this is any kind of purely anti-christian music just for the sake of it. This is actually emotional, and linked to a more sensible historic background. "Ride for Vengeance" thus begins and continues in an unremitting manner from riff to riff, one more melodic and captivating than the other, but always sustained by solid bass and drum while Hegg screams his lungs out. Also, do read the lyrics, you'll better understand the essence of the music. What I sometimes fail to note (because of the foreground position the riffs take) is the variety found in the drumming. No stale double bass for the sake of it here! Production-wise, they are very well-done, blending well into the guitar riffage while retaining their attack.
"The Dragon's Flight Across The Waves" is one hell of an emotional track that really stirs something in me, more so because of the lyrics. None else than exactly this music could so perfectly reflect what happens right there. Imagine some lame rock song over this! Exceptionally well-crafted track this is, a bit more mid-paced and with rhythm breaks throughout, but grinding your flaccid bones to dust. Note the section in the end right after the lead where Hegg soarly roars his guts out; fucking heavy and intense! Some metal nerd sitting at his desk feels humble now because there's no oar to row here.
After meditating which track would be my favourite on here, I say it must be "Without Fear", though it depends on the mood. More intensity, more melodic brutality, more metal! Apart from being Hegg's strongest performance, possibly on any Amon Amarth album (take that last section of the previous track but now for the entire song), this also has a very catchy guitar riff throughout the song, each time played in such a different key and rhythm that you'd say it's a different riff. Excellent. Kick-ass. WITHOUT FEAR I DIE!!!
When I'm in a different mood then, one set for more epic tracks, "Victorious March" would probably come to mind as my favourite here. Slowly fading in from the end of "Without Fear", it starts with a pumping riff leading up to the main tune, which is simply excellent; simple yet complex, slow yet fast, but if anything then just plain excellent. More intense vocals by Hegg, as if he just can't get his voice to sound as angry as he'd like it to. Not teenage angst-angry, though; hell no. Viking-angry! Though the song is less of a direct kick in your face, its backlash comes after a while, towards its end when you'll get swept along in the emotion, especially after the five minute mark. If you care to read along the lyrics, you'll notice how well the music conjures up images of the described scenes.
One great example of that link between music and lyrics is at the beginning of "Friends Of The Suncross". See that man standing on the bow of the ship? Feel that faithful anxiety he's got about the oncoming war? Exactly. This simply can't be done any better. Period. Furthermore, the song is another solid pillar in the masterpiece that this album is. That riff right after the first verse is definitely my favourite in here, having that notable contrasting note in it. The song slows down for a while at the end and then has a typical Amon Amarth lead, which, because it is typically Amon Amarth, isn't there to shred, but to complement the rest of the song. Not technical, but melodic.
"Abandoned" has a shaky rhythm to its verse, and most of the riffs are of the grinding type. Surely this one is a bit more complex than the other songs on the album and is less overwhelming than the previous five, which were outright killers. The three last tracks are half a notch down from that, though not at all deserving the label of "filler". They simply continue to demand vertical (or otherwise) motion of the head, and the album continues to deliver, if in a slightly less mind-blowing manner. Most albums by other bands don't even make it to five mind-blowing songs, real classics excluded. But wait, this is a real classic, right? Right.
Next up is the namesake track of the band, a much slower, more epic track building up from another image-evoking beginning ("A storm rolls in from the sea...") across the span of four minutes until it culminates into a tremendous battle at 3:56. As if the music isn't enough, there's actual sounds of battle in here, which make it now impossible for those who have remained untouched by it all to keep their cool. Intense as fuck. "Amon Amarth" is overall a different song than the others here, going for the atmosphere rather than the kick-in-face principle, yet without having to resort to anything else than just the same kind of melodic, tremolo-picking guitars that are so typical. It's the slower pace here that makes for a more epic sound, and because there's still as much material, this is the band's longest song to date. Though I'm a bit at loss at the use of the name "Amon Amarth" here, which is something out of Tolkien's universe and not quite related to any Viking stuff, but never mind.
Closing off this extraordinary voyage through Nordland is the title track of the album, again more akin to the first tracks: fast, aggressive, melodic. There's also an ominous bell sound in the middle, creating a dark atmosphere that contrasts to the upbeat tunes that follow.
Really, I might just as well repeat it: what I love most about Amon Amarth is their straightforwardness. No clever tricks in here to make things sound faster or heavier; no brainy lyrics you have to read ten times before you understand; no embarrassing experimenting with all sorts of wankery, keyboard frenzies, "innovating" approaches, ballads, or whatnot. Just plain fucking metal up yours. Intense. Sincere. Metal. And of all this, "Once Sent From The Golden Hall" is the sincerest.
Oh yes, these were the dudes that raided our shores a good thousand years ago. Sweden's best product after Bathory.
Amon Amarth's Once Sent From the Golden Hall, is a solid debut. It is rooted firmly in the Gothenburg school, with melodic leads, growled vocals, and a very active double bass. A few things set them apart from the horde of bands in that style though.
One would be the lyrics. Amon Amarth is one of the few bands to apply viking lyrics to this style of music. It goes over well, as the lyrics combine with the energetic music to evoke an idealized image of viking warfare. The vocals themselves are a mix between death growls and more blackish rasps.
Highlights include: The Dragons' Flight Across The Waves, which contains a battle cry near the end that will make even the most ardent pacifist want to pillage a few French villages; Victorious March, a controlled, militaristic anthem; and Friends Of The Suncross, the frenzied apex of the album.
After Friends Of The Suncross, the album tends to drop off. The first five songs are the most memorable, although the interesting Amon Amarth, with its battle ambience, will recapture attention. The problem, and the only major flaw of the album, is that each song follows more or less the same pattern, and it starts wearing thin after a while. Many melodic death bands have this problem.
But, in the end, this is an enjoyable release that is worth the money and the time. Your CD player will be kept busy for a while, and while you won't gain any new perspectives on life, you will have a hella good time.
This is the Amon Amarth album out their for the purists. Its their most raw work of all their albums. Once Sent From The Golden Hall is mostly the sound of their demo/ep days but more matured, talented, and structured. If your looking for a release by Amon Amarth in the likes of The Crusher and Versus The World, this release is definatly not for you. Some consider this to be their best work, I considerate it to be on par with The Crusher, but hard to compare it to that album because they both have sounds different from eachother.
A noticable differance on this album as compared to newer Amon Amarth releases, is that Yohan sings with a much deaper voice. On The Crusher and Versus The World Mr. Hegg sings in a more coherant voice that sounds more gargled or that is coming from the back of his throat. On Once Sent From The Golden hall Yohan singing seems to origonate from deep within his throat or stomach. Its a very deep singing style filled with volume. You'll notice upon listening to this album that he doesn't limit himself to this style. At times where the music requires a more screaming style vocal, Yohan will sing more from the back of his throat with a sound that is not as deep. It sounds more like he is grasping for air and letting the emotion of the song take him over. As if the lyrics were what was happening to him at this moment and he was singing them to you, showing his heart to you. These moments are few and far between but when they happen its quite amazing and will make for a memorable moment for the listening. I know they give me goosebumps. The majority of the vocals are a more stabble singing style like I desribed before, very deep vocals that have a little rhyrhym to them. They serve very well to deliver the interesting, intense, and enjoyable lyrical themes. The singing can get very emotion at times, usually at the climax of the songs, somewhere in the middle or end. The most noticable vocal work on this album Is done on Ride For Vengeance and Without Fear, perhaps the two most memorable songs on the album. Ride For Vengence starts off fast and strong with the vocals, they deliver alot of intensity and rage. Without Fear has some moments of pure energy and passion when Yohan screams portraying a man dying. Very passionate and moving, he sings as though he is becoming the person in the song, especially in without fear. Vocal work is amazing, bottom line.
The guitar work is equally amazing, with tons of fast complex riffs and great solo's. The guitars work in an unusual way, the songs on Once Sent From The Golden Hall are not very centralized, so many guitar riffs are not repeated. This makes the songs interesting for that the guitars are ever changing throughout them, riffs are hardly repeated. There will be an attention grabing opening riff in a song, some more riffs throughout it that stand out while there is no singing, and a solo to top it off, all well done. The riffs sometimes take on an apocalyptic feel when they are slow, especially the opening riff of Amon Amarth (track 7). The general guitar work and riffs are heavy and fast. They drums play well with the guitars so the riffs have some added volume. Like I said the guitars don't carry the songs, they change alot and don't dictate how a song will sound. Most songs on here are have two main focuses, guitars and riffs, and the vocals. Each do something very interesting and can be apprieciated at the same time, they don't take a backseat to eachother. The range of the guitars is also to be noted, they can be choppy, heavy, and brutal, and also rhythmic and melodic, or a combination of these adjectives. Most of the time they are heavy or melodic, but they always sound great.
These songs have some very memorable moments, like the Ending of The Dragons' Flight Across The Waves has an intense and angry vocal chorus. Ride For Vengence will have a very fast a brutal intro that you will never forget and want more of. The middle to end of Amon Amarth becomes very passionate and emotional, the big draw of this song. Without fear has few great and memorable lines about halfway through the song. I would say each song on this album has something you will remember and make you want to listen to it time and time again. More specifically Ride For Vegeance and Without fear will stick in your heads as songs that you will come to this album for. The album starts out strong and goes out fighting (literally). This is for any straight foward death metal fan that likes a more heavy style of death metal. Its not brutal like some bands, but in its own way shows its brutality, mostly through lyrical themes. This album is flawless and timeless.
Once Sent From The Golden Hall is of course Amon Amarth’s first full-length, and what a debut it was. Combining aggressive Melodic Death Metal, a raw approach to the production, and Viking lyrical themes, Once Sent From The Golden Hall is a unique offering that is solid from beginning to end.
Essentially, Amon Amarth’s main driving force in their songs is the melodies. Taking influence from Swedish Melodic Death bands as well as some Black Metal bands, the melodic guitar sections are truly memorable. The guitar sound is very raw, almost sounding like a thick rusty chainsaw, and this gives a superb contrast to what the guitars are actually playing. Of course there is usually some heavy riffing giving some back ground oomph, but the melodic parts are definitely in the forefront. Meanwhile the rhythm section pounds away with excellent precision, with the bass having a similar raw sound and with the drummer varying the patterns on a consistent basis. A lot of the songs are structured intelligently, without ever repeating any particular section too often and the longer songs such as “Victorious March” are almost epic and progressive in nature. The vocals meanwhile are very gruff, being somewhere in between the deep Death Metal growls and the more high-pitched Black Metal style… the tones are varied often and they fit the harsh sound of the music very well. If you care to read along to the Viking and Norse lyrics the songs will take on a more epic approach as well. Why is that? Most of them tell a story of battle, revenge, or betrayal; all that good stuff but in the aforementioned Viking setting. Likewise, you’ll hear the feel of the music change in conjunction with the mood of the lyrics, thus I highly recommend you read along to the lyrics when listening to this CD because it really enhances the experience and you get the full effect from these masterfully written songs. The style and tempos of the songs are also varied nicely, with some being more brutal, “Ride For Vengeance”; some being more epic, “Victorious March”; and some being more mid-paced and atmospheric, “Abandoned”.
This CD is close to perfect, only some sections in a couple songs are weaker than the rest but this is still an excellent release that fans of this style should check out. Some of the melodies on here have been stuck in my head for a long time and I would go as far to say that this is one of the best combinations of brutality and melody… and the fact that it is all done in a Viking setting only helps add to that.
Song Highlights: Ride For Vengeance, Without Fear, Victorious March, Friends Of The Suncross, Once Sent From The Golden Hall.