I have always considered Metallica as my overall favorite band (yes this is an Amon Amrth review). Then there has been the last 15 years and my confidence in my favorite band choice has been tarnished. The “Black” album was the twilight and the subsequent years brought only darkness and despair. There has recently been light again with “Death Magnetic” but let’s get back to the twilight.
A few years ago I began expanding my metal horizons and discovered bands like Ensiferum, Turisas, Einherjer, Unleashed, Wintersun and Tyr to name just a few. Somewhere between Ensiferum and Turisas I picked up the album “Fate of Norns” by Amon Amarth (translated as Mount Doom for all you Tolkien fans). Now, I am of Norwegian heritage, and vikings hold a special place in my heart. “Fate of Norns” blew me away. It perfectly combined my love of all things metal and my love of all things viking. I had found the perfect band. I had to check out their previous work…
It turns out that “Fate of Norns” was the fifth full length album our friends from Sweden had released. Their previous efforts, “Once Sent From the Golden Hall”, “The Crusher”, “The Avenger” and “Versus the World” beckoned me. The first three albums were more stright forward death metal with a hint, here and there, of what was to come. “Versus the World” saw a change in the band, with a much more melodic texture over the double bass, pounding death metal machine underneath. It is also where Johan Hegg, the bands prodigiously bearded lead singer, hit his stride. Hegg is, quite frankly, amazing. I have failed to find another lead with such a powerful, growling voice who you can actually understand! Every freakin’ word, clear as a bell, well at least to a semi-trained ear! So, I was hooked. “Versus the World” was even better then “Fate of Norns” and I began to wait for their next release…
In 2006 Amon Amarth released “With Oden on Our Side” to the world. To say the least, I was not disappointed. It was, I believe, better then “Fate of Norns” and in some ways better than “Versus the World”. So, now here is a band that I have elevated to near the top of my all time favorite bands list and I read that they have signed a new three album deal. I start to worry. Is it the beginning of a sellout? There are guest appearances on the new album. Uh oh. They announce a special addition of “Twilight of the Thunder God” with a comic book and bobble head dolls. I start to panic! I want them to be more popular (in the U.S.) but will they just release garbage from here on out? It has happened to my favorite band before…..
…and then I hear the new album. Phew!!! It is a masterpiece!!! It is the band’s best album of the seven they have now released. It has mid-tempo melodic tracks, specifically “Varyags of Miklagaard”, “Free Will Sacrifice” and “Live for the Kill”. The title track is brutal and has a short but outstanding guitar solo by Children of Bodom guitarist Roope Latvala. “Guardians of Asgaard” will stick in your head, well, for a long, long time. You could lead an army into battle with “Tattered Banners and Bloody Flags”. And then there is “Where is your God?”. Here you cannot really understand Mr. Hegg. But all is forgiven because Amon delivers almost four minutes of pure, unadulterated viking brutality! The first time I heard it I shed a tear, a tear of joy for it is truly hardcore (“Asator” on crack).
So, Amon Amarth delivered. Their string of awesomeness is unbroken. I will now enjoy an even larger library of melodic, brutal viking death metal. And then I will wait. Wait with apprehension for their next album. Will they pull it off again? I believe they have the gods on their side. If you have any interest at all in death metal, melodic death metal, metal, vikings, head banging, moshing, etc. you owe it to yourself to at least try listening to Amon Amarth. I guarantee you will find something you like.
Hail to the mighty Amon Amarth!