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The true Viking masters - 94%

Grimulfr, November 13th, 2008

On first listen I thought Twilight of the Thunder God sounds good but not as good as the last one, by the tenth listen I am anticipating the music, nice catchy riffs, cool melodies, tremendous power, you know the formula, by the twentieth listen it felt like an old friend, a classic and I’ve only had it a week. I’m sitting here on a Wednesday, the disk is being released in Sweden and Finland today, and in the rest of Europe on Friday and Monday. North America gets it the following Tuesday. It is only fitting it should have been released on a Thursday, and that is my only gripe with this album. Seriously.

The main thing I look for in Amon Amarth is consistency. They know what works in the studio and they stick with it, so sound quality is always spot on. They also know what image they want the songs to fit within, and they always do. Pick any release and any song would fit on any other release. Overall this is a diverse album, as long as you describe diverse as fitting within the confines of the predetermined Amon Amarth sound. Not only is there fast powerful riffing and high tempo drumming, but also somber melodies and heartfelt sorrow expressed with grace. “Embrace of the Endless Ocean” is an album closer that makes you pause in what you are doing and take notice. It also makes you hesitate in starting up another disc as you devote some time to reflection.

“Tattered Banners and Bloody Flags” grabs your attention with the drum rolls to start and keeps it with the guitar leads. “Where is your God?” has repeating riffs that will haunt your dreams they are so memorable. No need to mention the growls of Johan, as dynamic and powerful as ever and once again they dominate in the mix. And, as always he has a story to tell and he relates it beautifully. A few years back Johan told me his favorite passage from the Eddas is Ragnarok, and now he has successfully scripted the story for this album, a continuation of “The Arrival of the Fimbul Winter”, “Burning Creation” and “...and Soon the World Will Cease to Be,” the title track is Thor’s battle with Jormungandr, as magnificently rendered on the album cover. The song is a frenzy befitting this monumental battle that decides the fate of the world, easily one of the most powerful songs that band has ever written. Olavi Mikkonen is in top form.

About two years ago I started loading all my cds and records into my computer in anticipation of getting an ipod. According to itunes I have 2148 bands represented and only one band has received more airplay in the last two years than Amon Amarth, Enslaved. There is something to be said about the company you keep… In addition to the cd release there will be a 2CD & DVD digipack, a double etched LP (1500 copies), a picture disc LP (500 copies) and a 'Bubblehead' edition (2000 copies). Does Twilight of the Thunder God measure up to the damn near perfect With Oden On Our Side? Damn straight it does.

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