Swedish Melodic Death Metal giants Amon Amarth are back with their latest release, Surtur Rising. Named in tribute to Surtur, leader of the fire giants of Muspelheim (“flame land”) and the oldest being in the nine worlds of Norse mythology, the record, which is due in North America on March 29 via Metal Blade Records, features 10 tracks of sword-wielding, fist-pumping battle anthems. This is the last Amon Amarth since the 2008 epic release, Twilight of the Thunder God.
I know that a lot of people were leery of this release since they feel like Amon Amarth have basically written about all that they could write about and that their sound is not very dynamic to where they can pull from other influences. In other people’s eyes, this was the most anticipated release of 2011. I fall into the latter category. I have been licking my chops for this one.
As far the overall sound of the album, it is just as crushing as I would have hoped it would be. From just a few listens, I already know that I will be able to put this up there with Twilight of the Thunder God and Fate of Norns.
The opening track, War Of The Gods, is a song that has been streaming for a while now, so a lot of people are already pretty familiar with the song. It is just like a lot of Amon Amarth songs. It is intense and heavy. The second track, TÃ¶ckâ€™s Taunt â€“ Lokeâ€™s Treachery Part II, is the sequel to Hermod’s Ride to Hel – Lokes Treachery Part 1 from the 2006 album With Oden On Our Side. This is a more aggressive, though slower song than the last with many nice, melodic moments.
One of my early favorites on the album is Destroyer of the Universe. This one picks up the tempo and comes straight at you. The guitar tones are perfect for this track. We still have the melodic, chanting chorus like we have heard on a lot of earlier Amon Amarth songs. I cannot wait to see Destroyer of the Universe live. I can see the mosh pits starting up now with bodies flying around the floor.
Slaves of Fear is not only a great song, but comes in at the perfect time for this album. After the in-your-face track Destroyer of the Universe, Slaves of Fear comes in as a calming track. Of course, this is the calm before the storm, because once Live Without Regrets kicks in, the tempo picks up a little more with some intricate rhythm patterns.
According to Johan Hegg, The Last Stand Of Frej is the counterpart of Destroyer Of The Universe. Destroyer told the epic tale of the fight between Surtur and Frej from the point of view of the god of apocalypse. The Last Stand Of Frej is seen through the eyes of the mythological hero. This track is slow, brooding and just paints a wonderful picture of this epic battle.
For Victory or Death brings the tempo back up with a sound that we are very familiar with from Amon Amarth. This is almost like putting the band in a bottle. It epitomizes the sound of Amon Amarth and encapsulates it into one track.
From the title of the following track, Wrath of the Norsemen, I was expecting a lot, and that is what I received. The opening riff is crushing and once Johan gets in with the vocals, it nails it. This is what metal is. Such a great tone. There are many nice melodic moments built into this little gem as well.
The second to last track is called A Beast Am I. I will go on record as saying that the title is freaking awesome – almost as awesome as the opening scream to this song. On this track, the band is on a mission to crack your soul. The tempo is elevated and all of the intricate rhythms are still present. This is another song that moshers will have a ball doing a little dance to.
Sadly, the album does have to end at some point, and that is where we are. The final track is titled Doom Over Dead Man and starts off with a rock-type riff leading into a melodic verse that is very down-tempo for what the rest of the album has been. As is often the case, Johan is nailing the vocals on this song and there are some really nice guitar riffs all over the place. This is a powerful track.
To make a long story short, yes, I am very much into the new Amon Amarth album. I hope that this review will turn a lot of people into bigger fans of the band because they are one of the few newer bands out there that I can really get behind these days. They have easily become on one my favorite bands in such a short time.
Amon Amarth Lineup:
Johan Hegg: Vocals
Olavi Mikkonen: Guitar
Johan SÃ¶derberg: Guitar
Ted LundstrÃ¶m: Bass
Fredrik Andersson: Drums
Amon Amarth Discography:
1996 – Sorrow Throughout The Nine Worlds EP – Pulverised
1998 – Once Sent From The Golden Hall – Metal Blade
1999 – The Avenger – Metal Blade
2001 – The Crusher – Metal Blade
2001 – Versus The World – Metal Blade
2004 – Fate Of Norns – Metal Blade
2006 – Wrath Of The Norsemen DVD – Metal Blade
2006 – With Oden On Our Side – Metal Blade
2008 – Twilight Of The Thunder God – Metal Blade
2011 – Surtur Rising – Metal Blade