[25th June 2013]
[Metal Blade Records]
01. Deceiver Of The Gods
02. As Loke Falls
03. Father Of The Wolf
04. Shape Shifter
05. Under Siege
06. Blood Eagle
07. We Shall Destroy
09. Coming Of The Tide
10. Warriors Of The North
One thing frequently said about Amon Amarth is that their musical style has been consistent over the years of their existence. Or, in the words of their anti-fans: every album was the same as the one before.
But on balance, Amon Amarth is one of the few bands that can get away with the same trick time and time again. In part, this is because they’ve been the pioneers of their own little Viking tales-infused subgenre of melodeath, copied millions of times but never surpassed. The other part may have something to do with the band’s, and in particular Johan Hegg’s, brutal and always-appealing imagery. Defying giant sea-snakes, wolves, hordes of enemies, vast oceans and a multitude of war-frenzied gods, the band has managed to meticulously sketch a world in which everyone feels they’re awesome.
Deceiver of the Gods is the Swedish group’s ninth full-length studio release, and for the first time ever there is a tiny shift in style. Still largely overlapping the earlier works and not enough not to sound like Amon Amarth, but enough to notice and enough perhaps to raise a few brows perhaps. Likely to be followed by a stout nod of approval.
Following the standard set by their previous two records, once again ten songs constitute a record, and all the usual suspects return, with Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg on guitars, Ted Lundström on bass, Fredrik Andersson taking care of drums and the iconic Johan Hegg flailing across his characteristic low-end growling. No surprises there.
The style shift is in a couple of individual songs, for example, and most notably, in “Hel“. The song’s riffing style is rather un-Amon Amarth and reaches back to late eighties and early nineties classic death and groove metal style. At the same time, guest vocal duties by Messiah Marcolin (ex-Candlemass) bring in a power metal-like vibe that, together with an orientally styled chorus with choirs, make for something the uninformed listener would almost certainly not recognize as an Amon Amarth song.
It’s the only song that sounds different from ‘regular’ Amon Amarth to such an extent, but also songs like “Blood Eagle” and “Warriors of the North” have elements that are fresh on offer. For the former it’s a darker sort of aggression – with an opening of a couple of dudes getting chopped up by an axe or something alike – while “Warriors of the North” comes with a warmer and more melodic sort of mood. However, die-hard fans stuck in their tastes will be happy that an epic Amon Amarth riff is always just around the corner.
It’s almost as if the band is longing to try something new but afraid to take more than a few careful steps outside of their box – and then quickly jump back inside. And it makes sense. Amon Amarth is a an
almost legendary brand and it’s probably all too easy to lose what has been constructed over so long a period. Still, it’s a good thing the band seeks to innovate or evolve, even if only carefully, because eventually staying put will result in boring records.
With Deceiver of the Gods, the Swedes hand in a piece that carries as much of the good old ‘awesome’, but also explores a little bit of something new.