Review Summary: While still keeping things basic, Amon Amarth deliver the most polished and consistent album of their career.
There’s a commonplace saying that goes ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it’, and this perfectly sums up Amon Amarth’s attitude to their own style of music. Twilight of the Thunder God
, their latest album, is probably the most consistent album they’ve ever released, but one has to raise the question, ‘how much have Amon Amarth actually changed over the course of their 15 year existence?’. Their last two releases have seen improvements in the production, and a slight change in the nature of the songs, opting for the shorter, more accessible 3-4 minute songs, rather than their older habit of having several 8 minute epics on an album. But the reality of the situation is that they sound almost identical to how they sounded two years ago, 5 years ago, or even 10 years ago. As mentioned before, the attitude of ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it’ is the most obvious factor; although having released basically the same album 7 times, Amon Amarth are hugely successful, and even I cannot deny that their music is very enjoyable. In this respect, Twilight of the Thunder God
is a good album; it’s hardly different from anything Amon Amarth have put out before, but the band has somewhat perfected their own formula, putting together a solid 10 song album that is both accessible and well made.
The album wastes no time throwing you into the mix; opener ‘Free Will Sacrifice’ begins with a catchy riff, punctuated by a typical Amon Amarth-esque melodic line. Johan Hegg’s vocals are noticeably better, and his low gutturals over the said melodies sound very impressive. Each song follows the same basic formula; after opening with a riff and melodic line, the song will alternate between the two in various ways. Nonetheless, although having a definite Amon Amarth feel, each song is varied and individual enough to make this a captivating listen throughout. In this sense, it is definitely the most consistent album the band has made. Unlike earlier albums in which a single song would encapsulate a large portion of the album’s strength (Versus the World
/’Death in Fire’), Twilight of the Thunder God
keeps things socialist and distributes the win evenly. This is not to say that some songs aren’t better than the others; just that one can listen to the album in full without much complaint.
In this respect, it feels as if Amon Amarth were literally brimming with ideas when it came to writing Twilight of the Thunder God
. There is no shortage of epic riffs, tasteful solos and Viking inspired lyrics. Where other Amon Amarth albums would taper off in particular sections, this time around they’ve put in every effort to keep this album’s tenacity. Proof of this comes in the fact that there is something, be it a riff, a melody, or an instance of vocal delivery, in every song that keeps you coming back. An example would be the exemplary post-chorus melody in ‘Vargays of Miklagaard’, which although overshadowing the rest of the song, still keeps it as something I, or any other, can comfortably listen to on repeat. Structurally, variation is nil. This can be a major turn off for some, prime example being me. However, while ignoring any sort of progression within their music, Amon Amarth make sure to deliver good, solid songs which make Twilight of the God
a worthwhile experience.
This album is, as mentioned before, the perfection of Amon Amarth’s formula. The fact that there have been no lineup changes in the band for over 10 years might be a factor of this; the band has had time to settle down and mature their own sound. It may be a safe and boring approach to success but it has nonetheless worked in the case of Amon Amarth. Twilight of the Thunder God
breaks no boundaries, stays away from innovation and progression, and does not give us anything we haven’t heard before. If you’ve listened to Amon Amarth previously, regardless of which period of their career you’ve heard, you should already know what to expect with this album. Even so, one can’t help but enjoy it. An album that will no doubt keep fans happy, and bring forth another horde of more, Twilight of the Thunder God
is a polished and well made album that leaves little to be desired.