Review Summary: It is Amon Amarth....really what else can be said about these guys?
There are a few things in life that are a constant: eating, sleeping, and Amon Amarth. For fifteen years and nine studio albums, these guys crush, pulverize, and destroyed their way to being one of metal’s most consistent bands. Changing styles subtly through the years, the Swedes have stayed true to their path. Nevertheless, the ninth studio album Deceiver of the Gods is another three-quarter of an hour rampage over the Bifrost through Asgaard and Jotunheim to set out destruction. Continuing with a conceptual theme telling of important Norse mythological figures that has been present for the past three albums (Odin, Thor, and Surtr), Amon Amarth tackles the half-god, half-giant that is Loki. Lyrics aside, Amon Amarth has created an album, while similar to every other thing they have done, that combines all of the subtle changes over the band’s career to create another enjoyable record.
Amon Amarth has had a knack for creating strong opening tracks and the self-titled song off of here is no exception. From the outset Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg trade off the melodic and vicious guitar harmonies that have become the band’s staple. Fredrik Andersson’s slick, yet complex, brutalization of the drums and Johan Hegg’s shrieks as a ticked off Loki is nothing new. There is no innovation and no reason why a usually generic song should exist in 2013; but this is a band that knows almost no innovation and hardly tries new ideas, yet is able to make enjoyable song after enjoyable song. To analogize, think of Amon Amarth like former NBA greats John Stockton and Karl Malone. They ran the same play together for 18 years. Everyone knew it was coming, but fans ate it up and stuck with them through thick and thin.
Shape Shifter and Coming of the Tide are the same way as Deceiver: fast guitars/drums and Hegg’s brilliant vocals. But these generic song structures are way too fun and catchy for complaints and end up being the best ones on the entire album. Add absolutely brilliant warrior lyrics like “The Universe Shall Bleed and Burn!!” and “Waiting for my men to die…they sense the coming of the tide” to combine with the ruthless music puts you in some Middle Age battle fighting for Loki or Thor hoping to reach Valhalla one day.
There are songs on here that harkens to the band’s early raw sound that was present on albums such as The Avenger and Verse the World as well as combines the total elements of the band. Blood Eagle (which starts with some poor guy getting his ribs broken from the back and having his lungs protrude from his body) is the perfect example of raw Amon Amarth. Warriors of the North is an eight minute epic that plods along much like the longer songs off of the older albums, but creates the modern sound that has existed since With Oden on our Side. Hel, the most unique (and coincidently my least favorite) song on the album, sees an appearance from former Candlemass vocalist Messiah Marcolin. Continuing the trend set with Doom Over Dead Man on the previous album, Hel is a weird combination of doom and melodeath with some awkwardly placed keyboards. It does not work that well.
Nonetheless, Deceiver of the Gods is another solid album from Amon Amarth. There are minimal differences between this album and the previous three, but this album is able to combine every stylistic change (no matter how minimal) that the band has given us throughout the years. Harmonizing guitars, fast drums, and Hegg’s amazing screams continue to shine. Pillaging, slaughtering, and seeking vengeance are once again lyrical themes. It may be the same, but Loki would be proud.