Review Summary: Die in fire, cross the Rainbow bridge and drink with your brothers until Ragnarok.
Known for their remarkable consistency in the past 21 years, Amon Amarth have managed to, for the most part escape the criticisms and harsh feedback that usually comes with such a decision. When a band release 3 albums of the same material people are usually quick to jump in and call them out. Amon Amarth however, having released 9 and garnering praise with each release one begins to ask 'what makes this band so special?' In this instance, you don't have to look any further than Versus the World.
To put it simply, Amon Amarth are just an incredibly fun listen. From the catchy, melodic riffs to the big chorus' about Norse Mythology, one can't help but get swept away in the sea of rage and glory. One of the defining elements of Amon Amarths music are Johan Heggs vocals. He has an incredible range and can go from the low, deep death growls to the high pitched shrieking found in alot of Black Metal vocalists at the drop of a hat. The amount of effort and emotion he brings also elevates him above much of his peers. You can tell that this is a genuine passion for him, not just in it for fame and money (for glory though....). The lyrics, mentioned earlier revolve around Norse Mythology. 'Across the Rainbow Bridge' deals with a man seeking a glorious death in battle but cannot find one (the Rainbow Bridge is said to connect the realms of Midgard ((Migard being the Human realm)) and Asgard ((Asgard being the gods realm)) '...And Soon the World Will Cease To Be' is about the beginning of Ragnarok, going through all the events prophesied to lead up the end of the world. Paired along side Johans savage vocal delivery, it just simply works.
So, the vocals are great. But what of the acompanying music? It may be simple, yet it's very effective. Lots of tremelo picked riffs, catchy leads, massive power chords and a thumping bass drum add to the ferocity. The riffs have a distinct 'Viking' feel to them, and its easy to imagine yourself (or someone else if you're to whimpy) beating soemone to a bloody pulp then proceeding to grope the nearest mead carrying tavern wench in site. Accomanying the guitars are the drums, which do a great job at keeping a fist pumping beat as the often pounding bass drum gets bashed into oblivion. It's also some of the most emotional (at least by Amon Amarth standards) music they've ever played. The aformentioned 'Across the Rainbow Bridge'. 'Death in Fire' and 'For the Stabwounds in Our Backs' all do a fantastic job at keeping with the anguish and rage in Johans vocals.
Say what you will about them, it can't change the fact Amon Amarth have been creating some of the most enjoyable death metal for the past 21 years. They realise this is a style people connect with, love and need. They've fallen upon a winning formula, that in the eyes of their fans can do no wrong. But it's Versus the World that stands head and shoulders above the rest of Amon Amarths discography for it's emotional output, being the finest album they've created to date. Long may Odin keep Amon Amarths fire lit, and in return long may Amon Amarth continue to make music that people love. Now grab a horn of mead, embrace your brothers and get ready to belt out some glorious tunes.