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As long as it's mushed into a fine paste - 55%

zeingard, November 17th, 2008

"It's been two years, time for another album!" is the underlying tone of this release, because 'Twilight of the Thunder God' is yet another Amon Amarth album; nothing more, quite a bit less though. While the majority of their discography is difficult to distinguish at times, except by production values, this album displays quite a notable dip in the quality of material presented. In layman's terms, they're really phoning it in by giving us what is a fairly inoffensive and unadventurous album.

Amon Amarth's usual brand of melodic death metal is still on display and there are moments when it reaches their previous standards; the opening title track is a good example of what you'd find on 'With Oden on our Side' with plenty of speed along with a well-timed thrash break followed by the usual solo. "Where is your God?" is the heaviest song, sporting some simple but percussive death metal riffs and is just long enough to hold your interest. "No Fear for the Setting Sun" is quite similar, sporting some heavy riffs and generally eschewing the overtly sweet melodic lines that subdue the other songs.

The rest of the album is a retread of ground that we're all too familiar with, and while the aforementioned highlights are not innocent of such an accusation, they manage to diverge from the formula enough to keep things interesting without alienating the listener. It is something of a challenge to describe the experience of listening to 'Twilight of the Thunder God': it's tedious but at the same time you're not compelled to shut it off because at least it is competent noise filling the air. The main riff to each of the other songs is exceedingly dull; either due to an unimaginative set of chords or because the intensity was dialled down to 4. Even when they move into the usual tremolo picked section there's no intensity behind the instrumentation, it's part of the song because that's how Amon Amarth write their songs. The aforementioned increase in melodies can be attributed to an overall decrease in song quality mainly because their inception into every song is performed with a notable absence of subtlety. It's like launching a mortar into the sky only to have it suddenly dive into the ground just as it was about to reach the peak of its trajectory.

It feels unfair to bash Amon Amarth for having a consistent sound, but with every new album they release it's getting ridiculous because there are no risks in purchasing (or "obtaining") their new material. While people would argue that an absence of risk is a positive attribute, they are forgetting that you're not gaining anything from an album that sounds like the missing ten tracks from the previous one. Oh sure, now you've got another ten Amon Amarth songs to listen to in case you somehow got sick of the other sixty or so, but their consistency has resulted in stagnation. They neither decrease nor increase in quality. The excitement of a new album is in seeing what new ideas are coming to the forefront, and even if those albums happen to suck harder than a nuclear-powered dust buster it just makes the band's older material that much better by comparison. Where those bands fail plenty of others succeed which makes up for the pain and suffering of the previous infractions.

Amon Amarth is a safe band, and 'Twilight of the Thunder God' is another safe album. I'd love to disdain this album but there are glimpses of actual effort being put into the song writing and of course the instrumental skill is up to standard. This is not a great album, it is merely competent.