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Amon Amarth is, and has been, undoubtedly one of the iconic Melodeath bands, the band has pioneered the use of their lyrical theme; they’re one of the first bands to write lyrics that revolve around the Norse mythology (having been preceded by Bathory). The guys deserve credit for converting many metal fans to die-hard melodic death-metal fans.
The band has released eight studio albums, most of which are pretty impressive, but in this review, I’ll be writing about this very album Surtur Rising. The album kicks off with the mighty initial riff of “War of The Gods”, which quickly builds to explode into a complete song structure, with Johan’s scream roaring in the background. It's then easily possible to tell that it’s another Amon Amarth album. I’m not going to review the songs individually in a dull way, don’t worry.
Surtur Rising is characterised by diversity, although most of the songs MAY sound similar at the first hearing... allow me to go deeper clarifying my opinion. Speaking of speed, having taken into consideration that most of the songs by Amon Amarth (Melodeath songs in general) are fast-paced (as in tracks #3 and 9 off this album), but still, you can find relatively-slow and heavy riffing in “The Last Stand of Frej”. As I have mentioned before, the lyrics mainly revolve around the Norse mythology (which is absolutely fucking great) and continues to tell intriguing stories in a track after another, which is rather experimental, and allows the listener to visualise what the epic scene seems like, filling the listener with enthusiasm as if they are experiencing it themselves, yet, it’s not limited by that theme; In “Slaves of Fear”, they lyrically move away from the mythological theme, (but not so far) to talk about religions, which is again, a form of diversity.
To be objective, some verses by Amon Amarth are quite silly, speaking within Surtur Rising: “My name is Töck, and I won’t cry” I mean come on, seriously? Having written this crappy verse, the band succeeds in worsening the two parts of the story (the first is "Loke's Treachery" off With Oden on Our Side, in which the last two verses do not go very well with the rhyme, resulting in making me sometimes just stop the song at that very point). But well, I guess that was necessary to deliver a significant detail of the story of Baldr’s death, still, I believe it could have been worked in a better way. Another weakness I've detected in the album, is that I've found it lacking the powerful choruses I had expected, exception be made for two: the first; "Rise! Raise the flag once more, and the eagle will be fed..." in "For Victory or Death", and the one in "A Beast Am I".
I said that I wasn't going to review the tracks individually, I know, but “A Beast Am I” is a rather interesting song; when I had first heard the guitar-solo part in that song, I could tell that something fishy is going on in this very track; the whammy bar, it’s being used to produce sounds that don’t seem very “Amon Amarthish”, the curiosity had grown enough for me to Google it, which resulted in finding out that a guest (Simon Solomon) was playing the role of a lead guitarist.
To sum up: The album, as a whole, is quite exhilarating, forged from tons of gripping and powerful riffs (which was expected), and the usual powerful vocals, and a rather formerly-unknown sound that lasted but for few seconds. But after all, did this album add something remarkable to the band’s discography, or is it just an album, in which the creativity and innovation are bounded?