Album review: AMON AMARTH – Deceiver Of The Gods

Metal Blade – Out Now.

Swedish Viking warriors Amon Amarth have been enjoying the interest of the music world for quite some time now, but theirs is a rise that’s been both steady in character and, based on the quality of the music on offer, much deserved. Though a band heavily dependent on melody in the latter part of their career, 2011’s “Surtur Rising” found the Tumba residents indulging in heavier forms – an approach that is continued on their latest, Andy Sneap-produced, studio album entitled “Deceiver of The Gods”.

I cannot claim to know how responsible the ex Sabbat guitarist was for infusing these ten new compositions with the energy and urgency that they possess but, in “Deceiver Of The Gods”, Amon Amarth come across as a pretty fired-up group of musicians.

Granted, all those mid-tempo sing-along melodies that seem to appeal, especially to the younger part of their fan base, are still here, but for every catchy hook and refrain, there is at least one Thrashy riff and/or one bombastic drum beat to counterbalance things. Most importantly, however, the melodic themes may not be the most refined in terms of technical ability, but they are of the kind that will stick with you from the very first spin – the right recipe for any successful composition.

The album kicks off in truly bombastic fashion with the same-titled “Deceiver Of The Gods” boasting a massive up-tempo Thrash riff, while the follow up “As Locke Falls” exhibits Olavi  Mikkonen’s double-finger technique skills as well as his appreciation for Iron Maiden, as suggested by the beautiful twin guitar theme.

While both “Father Of The Wolf” & “Shape Shifter” operate along already established formulae, the melodies here are of such quality that you feel inclined to forgive the band for ‘playing it safe’. The follow up “Under Siege” is a six-minute epic which finds Johan Hegg sounding more dangerous than ever before and both its highly aggressive riffs and lead melodies are among the best ever composed by this band.

Short and to the point, “Blood Eagle” is another Thrash-infused piece, much different from the low-registered Bolt Thrower-influenced riffs which put together the groove laden “We Shall Destroy”. Based on unusual lead guitar melodies and filled with choral chants and powerful high register vocals, courtesy of Messiah Marcolin (ex-Candlemass), “Hel” is one of the most interesting compositions of the album – an album that concludes with the help of the sing-along tunes of the eight minute opus “Warriors Of The North”.

Amon Amarth are a band whose whole career has been based on a very specific lyrical and visual concept, specifically of Norse Mythology, and it is bands like these who tend to lose favour with people who are looking for the next best thing.

Eleven years after they first formed, Amon Amarth are more popular than ever and it is really albums like “Deceiver Of The Gods” which ensure that they continue to explore new horizons with the same pace and determination as their glorious ancestors did so many centuries ago.

John Stefanis

Rating: **** (4.0/5.0)


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