Amon Amarth – Surtur Rising (2011)

Posted: March 13, 2011 in Music

We recently posted a “Best Of” from Swedish viking-metal gods Amon Amarth. In the review a few weeks back we mentioned their forthcoming release “Surtur Rising.” Well lo and behold, here it is for you in all of it’s glory.

“Surtur Rising” is a phenomenal slab of Amon Amarth’s melodic death metal meat. Early albums like “The Avenger” and “The Crusher,” while great, tended to be one-track melo-viking-death romps, but “Surtur Rising” is a textured, varied, and acutely composed set of ten songs. The story of Surtur, as told in these songs, is obviously a very complex and winding journey, and the music complies, taking us for a ride that is intense and wholly enveloping.

Album opener “War of the Gods” runs from speedy and straight forward tremolo riffs to melodic soundscapes that are more pensive than aggressive. “Tock’s Taunt – Loke’s Trachery Part II” – which is a follow up to “Hermod’s Ride To Hell – Lokes Treachery, Part 1” off of 2006’s “With Oden On Our Side” – is the more comfortable Amon Amarth mid-tempo stomp-and-triumphant-chorus, but set off against “War of the Gods” it is the monolith that supports the earth. The members of Amon Amarth needed music to fit an album-long theme on “Surtur Rising,” thus pushing themselves to write music, and an entire album, that goes beyond their normal arc.

The album winds from triumphant royal halls to quiet country villages; raging wars among the gods to the peace of a weapons master practicing his craft in breeze brushed meadows. While in the past Amon Amarth charged past us, weapons drawn and grins grim, now the band has risen to be the bards of the northern Norsemen. The solos from Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Soderberg carry weight and power as they strain against their wordlessness – not just anthemic melody this time for the axemen. Johan Hegg sings with an insistence rarely heard in his burly growl. It is clear we must know this story, and heed its message. True viking stride.

So we sit, and we listen, and awe slowly conquers our brows as Amon Amarth imparts fantastic tales of Surtur lighting his sword in the eternal flame, his battle with Frej, and of Surtur’s pursuit of the power to raze the nine worlds. “Doom Over Dead Man” slowly exhausts its introspective thunder at the end of this tale, and as it does we could swear it was Surtur himself singing us to sleep.

It’s more than an album, it’s a story. And a great story at that. You have never heard Amon Amarth this dynamic, this profound, or this complex. Their best album to date.

In stores March 29th.

9.5/10

1. War Of The Gods
2. Töck’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 I Am
10. Doom Over Dead Man
11. Aerials (Bonus Track)

http://www.amazon.com/Surtur-Rising-Amon-Amarth/dp/B004FN7ZOC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1307988000&sr=8-1

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