Review Summary: I wouldn't mind getting raped, pillaged, and plundered by these vikings.
Ah good old Amon Amarth. They are on a short list of bands that I can listen to and feel like a total bad ass while doing so. I first journeyed into their realm late last year when they released Twilight of the Thunder God. I feel instantly in love with the record; so much so did I do this that I went out and actually had it purchased for my birthday by my sister. It was a great 18th birthday present. After listening to TotTG, I went further back into their discography. With Oden On Our Side, Fate of Norns, and The Avenger
were great albums to feel like a viking towards, but these three, and the former that I mentioned earlier became beaten when I hear Once Sent from the Golden Hall
Released in early 1998, this LP is the first time we get to experience the unique sound that every fan of Amon Amarth has grown to love. It starts out with one of the most awesome metal songs ever in Ride for Vengeance
. Starting off with a charge like feel, and not to mention a huge war cry by Johan Hegg, the song just explodes into this barrage of melodic riffage at the :20 mark. The song's lyrics fit perfectly with the music. Honestly there's nothing more viking like than shouting, screaming, and roaring your way through a song that deals with seeking vengeance on those who killed your son. An interesting part about the song is that there is no generic structure to it. Yeah the twenty second solo is present, but the song keeps a fresh feeling for an opener; oh yeah, the stuff after the solo is still extraordinary every time I hear it. This truly was "the ride for vengeance!"
The rest of the album hardly lets up as well. Johan Hegg's vocals are extremely raw compared to his later albums, and at times I prefer his screams/growls/spoken words better than his developed vocals. For forty-five minutes, the listener is pummeled, raped, pillaged, and plundered by these Swedes. The group does this in couple of ways too. With songs such as The Dragon's Flight Across the Waves
, Victorious March
and the self titled Amon Amarth
, the group takes a droned out, almost original viking/black metal approach. This is especially true in the later song; by the way, this is my least favorite track on here, and the main reason why this disc doesn't receive a perfect 5 rating. I'm personally not a big fan of this slow and methodical paced metal on a fast paced album. Although Victorious March goes through the same pacing as the self titled track, the melodicness of the song suites my tastes better than the other.
The main reasoning for my likeness of Victorious March over Amon Amarth is because the former is a continuation of arguably the band's best song to date. This is the quintessential viking song. A somewhat precursor to Vahall Awaits Me, well at least lyrically, Without Fear
is a song which metal enthusiasts can proudly bang their heads. The song just works and flows perfectly. It starts off extremely fast, but it kind of mellows out when Hegg starts singing. Oddly enough, this song gives me a almost post rock feel in structure. The tempo is like a person's heart rhythm going from chaotic to a bit mellow. The build up of the song after the solo into that final crescendo of a riff is one of the best moments I've ever heard in the entire genre of metal. I would make love to that riff every night...it's that good.
Amon Amarth's subsequent releases have all had a similar feel to this release at least musically. Most people look over this album and give credit to later albums as being the best. On Once Sent from the Golden Hall
though, the band invents their sound, not just revolutionizes it like on later albums. The rawness of this album makes it my favorite of AA's releases. Some people have criticized the receptiveness of the album. Well I'll end it with this: Hasn't the entire band's history been of repetition? If it isn't broke, don't fix it. It definitely was not broke on this superb debut.