Posted on December 15, 2009 -
I seem to be on the same page with most reviewers on this one. ‘Fate of Norns’ is Amon Amarth’s best record to date, hands down. While ‘Vs. the World’ showed some progression from previous recordings, this album brings the band full circle showing real maturity. I know that sounds cliche, but after one listen this album had me absolutely hooked and wanting more. The standard thrashing but melodic riffing backed by the signiture pounding beats and guttural but well-enunciated vocals growling out tales of Viking fuedalism are all still present. But this record shows something far more developed than previous albums, SONGS! Yup, the songwriting has grown leaps and bounds since the last record. The structures have been stripped down to a more simplified approach, with tighter arrangements and greater emphasis on hooks and melodious, intricate guitar work. The lyrical content has shown some of the most obvious growth. Having laid to rest shock songs about eating the eyeballs of your slain foes and the like, the new material concentrates on a much more vivid type of lyrical storytelling. Weaving stories of battle and conquest in the pre-medieval Norse world, tracks like ‘Arson’ and ‘Pursuit of Vikings’ tell their tales with the poignancy of an Icelandic saga. This will all be a disappointment to some so-called “troo” fans who will undoubtedly claim this record is too polished and commercial, but there is more to death-metal than staying entrenched in a rut for the sake of a few self-styled die-hards. If one could assemble all of these so-called elites at some kind of extreme metal seminar it would probably resemble a Midwestern American swap-meet in black t-shirts with a smattering of cheesy corpse-paint, so consider the source when reading or hearing the words of the more closed-minded sects of a fan-base. Such people are far more in the minority than they would have you believe. Anyway, back to the record; while the ambience of some songs like the atmospheric ‘Where Death Seems to Dwell’ and the sorrowful title track are more like mood-setters than anything these boys have done before, other songs like the vengeful ‘Once Sealed in Blood’, and the ferocious fist-pumper ‘Valkeries Ride’ show that this band still has an ample reserve of face-ripping potential. In my opinion, the more rudimentary arrangemnents and catchy moments lend these songs a more elemental and primal energy which only add to the band’s natural voracity, while the moodier moments add a colorful contrast which brings out the nastiness of the slashing parts that much more. This record is simply brilliant in its dynamics. Listen and decide for yourself, but anyone dismayed by this album’s newfound diversity is simply missing the point. I have faith that most metal enthusiasts know a great record when they hear it, so I’m sure the vast majority of fans will welcome ‘Fate of Norns’ with open arms and give it the respect it truly deserves. This record is worthy of a hero’s praise, if not a God-like reverence. RAISE YOUR SWORDS!