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Of archetypes and dragon boats. - 74%

hells_unicorn, March 8th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1993, Cassette, Independent

This little demo is quite different from most of what Amon Amarth would put out, and actually doesn’t fully fit the style they have consistently exhibited since. Although the traditional melodic approach of older metal styles is heavily present, the predominance of the blast beats, as well as the complexity of the guitar riffs hint at a combination of thrash and earlier technical death influences. Johan Hegg’s characteristic Viking growls are probably the only thing that really allows the listener to identify this as the same band heard on “Once sent from the Golden Hall” and so forth.

The production on here is fairly rough, even considering that these songs were probably tweaked during the remix to achieve the best sound on what was likely a poor original product. This is mostly noticeable in the drums, particularly the tinny sound that the snare exhibits and the somewhat flat sound of the bass drums. The guitars are dark and heavy, almost flirting with sounding sludgy at times, resulting with a set of tremolo picked melodies that sound a bit muddled.

The two best songs on here are the ones that would later be re-recorded and appear on later LPs. “Risen from the Sea” is the catchiest of the mix, and probably the least speedy and aggressive of the lot. It features a principle melodic opening riff that is easily remembered, and the general mid-tempo feel that dominates most of their material. By contrast, “Thor Arise” is the most aggressive and rapidly shifting beast in the fold, featuring the most brutal vocal performance I’ve heard out of Hegg yet. The melodic leads that come in and out are nicely realized, but the true strength is found in the lower end riffs, particularly during the occasional slower sections.

The remaining original songs on here are well done, but not quite as well put together and don’t stick in your memory like the other two tend to. The remake of “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” is my only real complaint on here; it just plods along and doesn’t see any real contrast due to the lack of an acoustic section. I’ve heard worse versions of this song, but I tend to prefer sung versions to grunted ones, not to mention ones that have the guitar solo still in it.

The only place I know of where one can attain this demo is on the Special Edition “Versus the World” release. It does give an interesting perspective on the humble beginnings of this band in 1993, which coincided with the transformation of death metal from a technically oriented style like thrash was in the 80s into a darker, more atonal and less technically minded affair. It’s my least favorite of all the additional treats included on the mentioned album, but solid nonetheless.

(Originally written on April 26th, 2007)