Review Summary: Note: "flapping his hand against the strings" is a very accurate statement and lacks hyperbole entirely. I promise.Amon Amarth.
Few individuals who have spent much time in the realm of metal know not the Nordic gods of melodic death. They've been around for quite some time, beginning their career in 1988 as Scum before changing their moniker (and their lineup) to Amon Amarth in 1992 (before I was born, actually). This Swedish death metal outfit is about to drop their ninth
full-length studio album - modeled after the character of Loke and aptly titled “Deceiver of the Gods
” - and I've had the extreme pleasure of hearing it before its release date for the express purpose of telling all you guys that you need to get your hands on this album. Why? It fuc
Let's dissect the album, piece by piece. It's got Johan Hegg's vocals, Ted Lundström's bass, the twin guitarists Johan Söderberg and Olavi Mikkonen, and the drumming talents of Fredrik Andersson. Everything about the mix of “Deceiver
” - and I mean everything
is geared towards the goal of meshing together and sounding absolutely fantastic. This is a very different record than something like Entrails' latest album, "Raging Death
", and it's intentionally crafted that way. Don't get me wrong: Amon Amarth deliver their trademark crushing of weaklings and seizing of women, but they do it in a beautiful, almost soothing way. There are an incredible amount of headbang-worthy moments, and you moshes are probably already rearing in your seats, but for those of us who sometimes prefer to just sit back and take the music in - this album is the Amon Amarth album for you. “Deceiver of the Gods
” definitely reasserts the band's melodic qualifier, and portrays quite the epic battle between Loke and the rest of the deities.
The band certainly doesn't take their time kickstarting the whole adventure through the very human drama that persists within the Norse pantheon. The opening and title track, which everyone should have listened to at least sixty-nine times to by now, showcases quite a bit of what to expect from “Deceiver
”. Johan Hegg's vocals in particular are just as incredible as they were on his past records, staying true to the grindy, crunchy, throaty growls and deeper tones that we've been introduced to over the years. Of course, he throws in his higher-pitched screams and exceptionally-low bellows at key moments, giving us both the variety and the performance we crave. Hegg is just enough of an experienced vocalist at this point that he knows what his listeners want, and while I wouldn't say he panders to his audience, I would certainly say that he gets the job done very well.
Hegg's supreme vocal performance is backed by two highly-skilled guitarists - one of whom I had the pleasure of interviewing earlier this month - and this is where things start to diverge from what some longtime listeners might be used to. It's very apparent that the band took a more groove-heavy approach to the songwriting for “Deceiver of the Gods
”, and there's no better example of this advent than the first few seconds of the sixth track, "Blood Eagle". There are plenty of other moments when the grooves lead the direction of the sound, like "Hel" and "Warriors of the North", but if you're looking for a quick fix of groove-based death metal, look no further than "Blood Eagle". The guitarists serve up a spicing hot dish of classic groove and death metal instrumentation, be they riffs upon riffs of downtuned tones or powerful chords that cut right through the mix like a butter knife through butter that's been left on the counter for a day - and the solos are just as fantastic, melodic, and epic
as ever. The guitarwork can get pretty fast, too - I think one particular part of "Coming of the Tide" blew my pants off or something.
The basswork on “Deceiver
” is a bit hard to pick out with shoddy sound equipment (and I wrote this away from my trusty pair of headphones), but you can easily check old Teddy Lundström flapping his hand against the strings (which I've always assumed all bassists do ever since my first Black Dahlia Murder concert... -shudder-) and cranking out those deep bass notes that give the guitarwork such oomph
. It also helps that Fredrik Andersson is manning the drum kit with the intent to melodically
beat your ears into submission, since his constant pummeling of the bass pedals serves to boost the mix in its own ways, and his execution of the well-varied drum fills is nothing but the best. Between the slower-paced moments where you can really appreciate his attention to detail and the blisteringly-fast 'smash everything with the sticks in my hands' timings where all you can do is headbang, Andersson's work is always spot-on, and his style suits the rest of the mix perfectly. You'll enjoy the hits on the high hat and the rampant snare beatings that this man unleashes upon his kit, and if you enjoyed the last few Amon Amarth records, you'll love every second of “Deceiver of the Gods
”. Does that make it a perfect album? Certainly not - I'd need to hear more songs with the passion and immensity of "Warriors of the North" and "Hel" for it to start tracking in that territory - but it does
make it an incredibly solid
” is easily a nine out of ten, and it deserves every single point. It also deserves your listen and your purchase, so go get that shi
t and thank me later.