Deceiver of the Gods – Amon Amarth, out now!
It has been 21 years since Amon Amarth first rowed onto the scene, and 15 since they released their debut album Once Sent From The Golden Hall. In that time not much has changed, Johan Heggs beard remains impressively mighty, the lyrics are still rooted in Viking and Norse mythology and they still remain one of the most consistent bands in death metal.
Deceiever of the Gods is the bands 9th studio album and for my money is one of the best, if not the best they’ve done. It’s so rare that a bands latest release can spark arguments over whether it is the best they have done or not, but that is Amon Amarth. While most bands have a weak link somewhere in the chain, the Swedish five piece have had a surprisingly solid back catalogue.
Perhaps one of the best parts of the type of death metal Amon Amarth play is that you can understand most of the lyrics. Along with catchy choruses this is surely one of the reasons they can pull in fans from all subgenres of metal and rock. On this album this keeps up, there are plenty of lyrics about gods, wolves, battles and blood that will be shouted with raised fist when the main tour cycle starts.
The album opens with the slow harmonic intro of Deceiver of the Gods and once the fantastic main riff kicks it, it doesn’t let up until the odd last note of Warriors of the North. The Iron Maiden-esque harmonies mixed with the brutality of death metal is a mix that is easy to listen to and adds so much more depth to the music.
Despite the consistent sound (someone once commented you could trade tracks between all the albums and not notice the difference) there is still a progression. Hegg has much more control and force behind his vocals, he has now got a distinct growl rather than a generic snarl. Musically the band have advanced in leaps and bounds with riffs and solos that seem pulled from thin air.
One of the biggest changes is the recording quality. You only have to listen to the raw Once Sent From The Golden Hall then the latest album to hear the difference. Credit on this release goes to the mighty Andy Sneap and Backstage Studios who have done what can only be described as a flawless job on this mix. It just sounds huge and not a single note is buried in the mix. While we talk about outside parties to the band, we should also mention Mr Tom Thiel who designed the rather beautiful artwork which will no doubt be adorning my chest in t-shirt form soon.
The tracks are big, powerful and anthemic. It’s like a Viking horde is trying to burst out of your speakers and into your living room. Every track has a live sing-along moment or at least a shout-a-long-a-word moment.
By the time the second track, As Loke Falls, ends you should already be in some amount of pain from the foot drumming you’ll be inevitably doing. By the time the third track, Father of the Wolf, ends you should be feeling the strain in your neck from the sheer amount of head nodding. This isn’t exaggeration, I feel like I’ve had a full on work out to this album. If you’re spending £100 on a gym membership a year you can save money by sinking a tenner or so into this latest offering from Amon Amarth. Deceiver of the Gods does the job for a tenth of the price and you don’t have to wear ridiculous shorts, full Viking battle wear optional.
Blood Eagle and the bloody intro is one of the more brutal songs in a traditional death metal lyrics sense. The Blood Eagle was a Nordic torture legend of cutting the victims back open on either side of the spine, breaking the ribs and pulling the lungs out the holes. If this ends up in the live set it’ll go down a treat, it has everything you can want for a metal show. It’s fast enough for a pit, enough of a beat for a good old fashioned headbang and a shout back chorus of BLOOD EAGLE.
Most of the album keeps a mid to fast tempo, but it slows down a bit (a tiny tiny bit) for the evil sounding Hel. Every album like this needs a slow headbang moment and this it. The track also has an odd creepy choir at the chorus and clean vocals courtesy of Messiah Marcolin. The duet between the death and clean vocals is a treat, I didn’t know how well it would work but they nail it making it one of my favourite songs on the album.
The excellent Coming Of The Tide speeds the proceedings back up again and brings us towards the end along with the 8 minute death metal epic Warriors Of The North. This is one thing Amon Amarth have been able to do so well over the years, the melodic nature of the music allows them to build much broader pieces than straight up death metal bands and really set themselves aside as something special in the genre. The album comes to a close here with a note that sort of hangs, I sat half expecting a final note for a good ten seconds before realising we were finished. At this point I felt my beard, realised it had grown an inch and immediately hit replay.
So far it’s a tie between Deceiver Of The Gods and Avantasia’s The Mystery Of Time for album of the year in my eyes. The album is available now in Europe/UK with a US release on the 25th of June. A UK tour hopefully to follow, there are rumours popping up on various websites of a November tour so we’ll post here if it comes to be.
For more information: http://amonamarth.com/