Review Summary: Twilight of the Thunder God is simply a fun listen, and one of the most exciting metal albums of the year.
It's kind of hard not to like Amon Amarth. While it's undeniable that the Swedes have hardly deviated from their tried and true formula over the past sixteen years, the band just kicks so much ass that the lack of progression isn't difficult to overlook. Factor in their constant improvement as well as the overall fun-ness (for lack of better term), and not even the band's ridiculously 'metal' image is off-putting. What separates Amon Amarth from a band like Motorhead, who release the same good album every other year, or a DragonForce/ACDC-type band that has written perhaps three songs over their careers, is that Amon Amarth manage to somehow stay fresh and interesting. Unsurprisingly, Twilight of the Thunder God
does little to alter such sentiments.
Indeed, most should be aware by now of Amon Amarth's formula. Guitar-centric melodic death metal (you know, the kind with actual death metal) makes up the bulk of Twilight of the Thunder God
, backed up by Norse lyrical themes, though fortunately without the folky melodies of your typical Viking metal band. That isn't to say that medieval passages fail to pervade the album's forty-three minute runtime; "Varyags of Miklagaard" and "Tattered Banners and Bloody Flags" each feature such melodies, but in both cases it's more of a subtle theme than anything else. Regardless, the blistering rhythm guitar tandem of Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Soderberg is much more prominent. The virtual backbone of Amon Amarth's sound, Mikkonen and Soderberg maintain an extremely accessible tone without sacrificing their aggression. Guitar harmonies accentuate the heavy riffing throughout much of Twilight of the Thunder God
, and play a vital role in closing track, "Embrace of the Endless Ocean", a solemn piece more akin to Dark Tranquillity than anything else on the album. On the flipside, with "Where is Your God"" and parts of "Free Will Sacrifice", Amon Amarth opts for a more straight up death metal, with excellent results. Vocalist Johan Hegg is especially impressive in "Where is Your God"", leading the way with his rather frenzied, energetic growls. The remainder of the album simply ties the two styles together, highlighted by the anthemic title track and "The Hero", particularly the former, which is among the year's strongest opening tracks.
Alongside With Oden on Our Side
, Twilight of the Thunder God
just might be the strongest record Amon Amarth has written thus far. Certainly, it's essentially the same as all the rest of their albums, but it manages to get by without sounding redundant or stagnant. And this is certainly more than most of their contemporaries can attest to, there's no denying that. All in all, Twilight of the Thunder God
is simply a fun listen, and one of the most exciting metal albums of the year, nothing more, nothing less. Considering that that is most likely all that Amon Amarth set out to do, they've passed with flying colours.