Review Summary: A very good debut album that unfortunately suffers from repetitiveness, and inferiority to the albums that followed it.
I have been listening to Amon Amarth for a fair while now, but I’d only heard Fate of Norns, Versus the World and their most recent album, With Oden on Our Side. I was a bit disappointed with their newest album, and after I saw that the earlier Amon Amarth albums hadn’t been reviewed I decided to see where it all began.
Once Sent from the Golden Hall is Amon Amarth’s debut LP, released after a successful EP entitled Sorrow Throughout the Nine Worlds. When I first began listening I expected the sound to be undeveloped and not really similar to Amon Amarth’s sound now, but I was taken aback. It was very energetic, very Viking, and absolutely saturated with melody. My favourite sub-genre is melodic death metal, and I was very impressed with this album. It bears all the trademarks that are commonly associated with Amon Amarth, such as pounding drums, excellent vocal performances by Johan Hegg, and consistently good guitar work by both guitarists. Hegg’s vocals are very distinctive, and it almost seems like he isn’t growling, but his voice actually sounds like this. He has a good range, and can emit incredibly low and guttural growls.
I noticed that this album also has something which wasn’t really on Versus the World, or With Oden on Our Side, and that is Hegg mixes his harsh vocals with a sort of rough yelling which is very fitting with the Viking theme. Another difference I noted was that Amon Amarth’s songs have become generally shorter and shorter each album they have made. The shortest song on Once Sent From the Golden Hall is four and a half minutes long, and there are two (approximately) 8 minute tracks as well. Personally, I enjoyed the songs Ride for Vengeance, a vicious and unrelenting song that blasts its way through to a tremendous finale, and Without Fear, which just has a melody that sits very well with me. There are definitely other good songs on here (as they are all very similar), but those two are the ones that stuck out most to me.
I’ve already mentioned this before, but the music Amon Amarth plays is just perfect for their Viking theme. However, I’m quite certain the real Vikings didn’t play heavy metal, but the imagery Amon Amarth provides us is contributed to by both the lyrics and music. Every song is an epic on this album, especially both of the longer tracks, titled Amon Amarth and Once Sent from the Golden Hall. There is epic riffing, epic lyrics dealing with brave courageous warriors going to battle, and some sort of trick which causes involuntary head movement. If you look past the music and lyrics, every beat in this album can be head-banged to. Amon Amarth is definitely a good reason to grow your hair long.
From my own experience and from what others have told me, each Amon Amarth album has been a solid release, but the band has not differed in their style very much in their illustrious 6 album history. This can be looked at from two different perspectives: the melodic metal/Amon Amarth purist would consider it a good thing, the band is keeping true to themselves. However, more casual listeners would find that owning every Amon Amarth album is just having more of the same thing. The songs on Once Sent from the Golden Hall are all good, but there isn’t anything on here that would warrant you to buy this rather than Versus the World. Versus the World is, overall, a better album, and is basically the same thing but delivered in a better way. The downfall of Once Sent from the Golden Hall is that it is very repetitive. I also believe this to be the case on all Amon Amarth albums, and depending on your bias towards the band, can be either a good or a bad thing. Most of the songs blend into the same sound, and I wouldn’t think that anyone would have a good time listening to Once Sent from the Golden Hall for a long period of time, let alone any Amon Amarth album.
That said this is still a very solid release and paved the way for Amon Amarth to become the band they are now. If you are a huge fan of Amon Amarth, add 0.5 to the score. If you are looking to get into Amon Amarth, or are just a casual listener take off 0.5 and get Versus the World instead.
- Hegg’s vocals
- Some memorable melodies
- Vikings are cool
- A lot of repetition, therefore not much longevity
- More recent albums are just better versions of this