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Album Review: Amon Amarth - 'Surtur Rising'

5 April 2011 | 10:24 pm | Staff Writer

Unrelenting metal from Viking Swedes

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Scandinavia has a certain cultural element attached to its music. Let's face it, if an Australian band claimed to be 'viking metal' then the collective laughs would probably drown out the eventual music. However, when you hail from a Nordic country in Europe's north, the tag seems a bit more genuine, not to mention assertive.

Enduring and now arguably veteran metallers, Amon Amarth have an undeniable presence to them. If the epic cover art found on this eight studio album entitled, 'Surtur Rising' does not get the idea across, the ten subsequent tracks definitely will.

This is crushing, no-nonsense, traditional metal with a subtle melodic twist that is deliberate and devoid of current trends. While preceding album 'Twilight of the Thunder Gods' was by no means a letdown, this album progresses to the point that it makes the band's previous work seem almost inferior. This time, the Swedes care little for timid and tedious approaches. That way plays all too safe. Instead, 'Surtur Rising' delivers like an aural tidal wave.

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Beginning with the dominant 'War of the Gods', the guitars are a little more defined and favour the intensity of an At the Gates as opposed to the contrasting melody of a Soilwork. 'Doom Over Dead Man' is more melodic and mid-paced while 'Destroyer of the Universe' is perhaps the album's most consistently fast and heaviest track. 'Wrath of the Norseman' is just downright intimidating with its down tuned guitars and guttural vocals.

The beauty of this album is it plays to its own limits. After eight albums, Amon Amarth know what to look for in their sound. Instead of adding new musical elements, it's more about strengthening the already existent ones. Production and performance wise 'Surtur Rising' is tight and sonically stable.

Vikings may just have a new soundtrack to raid and pillage the villages to…Oh yeah, album art work of the year, hands down!

Like the picture of the sword wielding Viking behemoth on the album's front cover, Amon Amarth's 'Surtur Rising' is powerful and musically unforgiving. In a nutshell, it's a consistently composed album that compares well with other similar releases. Maybe Hollywood should've got Amon Amarth to provide the music to the upcoming Thor film.

1. War of the Gods

2. Tock's Taunt Loke's Treachery Part II

3. Destroyer of the Universe

4. Slaves of Fear

5. Live Without Regrets

6. The Last Stand of Frej

7. For Victory or Death

8. Wrath of the Norsemen

9. A Beast Am I

10. Doom Over Dead Man