Amon Amarth // Surtur Rising
Rating: 4.5/5.0 —Are you ready to Ragnarock?? [Ha! I ruined your pun by adding an umlaut! - AMG]
Label: Metal Blade Records
Websites: amonamarth.com/ myspace.com/amonamarth
Release Dates: EU: 2011.03.28 | US: 03.29.2011

Amon Amarth - Surtur RisingAHHHH! The war drums are sounding the return of the dragon ships at last! One of the most anticipated releases of the new year is finally here. Since my Amon Amarth geekdom is second only to my slavish Amorphis fanboyism, to say I’m excited to get my hands and ears on Surtur Rising simply doesn’t cover it. Lately it’s seemed these war-like Swedes could do no wrong and their past two albums have been monstrous platters of crushing melodic death metal of the highest caliber. If you were expecting something different here, you’re obviously an idiot because it clearly ain’t broke so why fuck with it? Thankfully, Surtur Rising picks up where Twilight of the Thunder God left off and delivers another size fourteen viking boot to your Asgard with their trademark precise, powerful style. This is heavy as hell, metal as fuck and the perfect soundtrack to pillage, maraud and rampage to. Amon Amarth has done it once again and given their track record, no one should be surprised by how good this is.

Opening track “War of the Gods” immediately tells you all is right in the nine worlds as Johan Hegg and crew bring back the tried and true Amon Amarth sound. This is a classic track, with Hegg’s huge death bellows and the legendary riffing style of Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg. Once again they provide huge, heavy battle riffs mixed with quick trem picking and mournful, emotive solos and show they really know their craft inside and out. An amazing lead off and I can only imagine how great this will sound live. “Tock’s Taunt – Loke’s Treachery Part II” is the sequel to “Hemrods Ride to Hell” off With Oden On Our Side and proves a very compelling counterpoint to that classic. Mid-paced but bursting with energy and anger, it’s also very hooky and memorable in that odd Amon Amarthy way. You’ll find yourself growling it in public and people will quickly move away from you. Later we get “Destroyer of the Universe” and The Last Stand of Frej,” both tell the tale of the epic battle between evil fire god Surtur and Norse hero Frej from different perspectives. While “Destroyer of the Universe” is a raging, thrashed out killer, “The Last Stand of Frej” is a slight departure for AA with a ponderous, mournful doom metal style as Frej laments his upcoming death. Both are outstanding tracks. Elsewhere there’s a balls to the wall thrasher (“A Beast Am I”), anthemic rallying songs (“Live With No Regrets,” “For Victory or Death”) and the biggest surprise, the slightly orchestral and downtrodden “Doom Over Dead Man.” All work and all are addictive additions to the AA catalogue. No filler, no duds, just pagan war metal the way we like it.Amon Amarth 2011 - by Steve Brown

A lot of what was working so well on previous albums is wisely continued here. That isn’t to say their sound has stagnated. They do try some new things like the orchestral segment in “Doom Over Dead Man.” The doomish style of  “The Last Stand of Frej” is also a little different than their usual fare. This is a heavier album than Twilight and features some of the fastest, most aggressive songs Amon Amarth has done in a long time. Also, Hegg’s vocals are more raw, deep and guttural than they’ve been in awhile, at times making it harder to follow the lyrics without a sheet (during “Wrath of the Norsemen” his vox wander into grindcore territory at times). This combination of heavier songs and more deathy vocals makes this ever so slightly less accessible and immediate than Twilight but fear not. As always, the element that makes these guys so great is the guitar work and Surtur Rising is another fantastic fret feast. Every song has its huge riff or memorable lead line. This is how melodic death metal is done and I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Another album, another triumph for these dependable viking warlords. This is on par with Twilight of the Thunder God and only a notch below With Oden On Our Side. Are these guys starting to recycle their ideas and sound somewhat? Yes, but so far it’s still working very well and I’m totally OK with it. This is the album I wanted from Amon Amarth and I’d be totally happy with a few more in exactly the same style. Now, build a viking bonfire, celebrate Midvinterblot and rage until your neck feels Thor (yep AMG, I like puns).

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  • http://metalstate.wordpress.com/ Plantera7

    Thank you for the detailed rave review. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Amon Amarth though. I can’t wait to get my hands on the new release; my most anticipated release in months; easily of 2011. I saw an interview where Hegg said that the band started to NOT like the cleaner sound of Twilight (not the music itself, just the polish behind it), so on Surter they wanted a more raw appeal. Sounds like from your review they captured exactly what they wanted.
    I will get to see Amon Amarth on the 1st of April, unfortunately opening for another band which means the set will be shorter, but beggers can’t be choosers. I am so looking forward to hearing Surtur Rising and also some of it live.

  • sorteal

    Great review! I cannot wait to give this record some time in my stereo!! I’m still shocked this band has not reached the same level of recognition as In Flames and Dark Tranquility. Then again, when have the masses been good at picking great music?!

  • JonSnow

    Nice review… hype is high for this record, now even more.

    @sorteal: not the same level of recognition? They have, man, they have it.

  • Steel Druhm

    I would say these guys have a huge level of recognition at this point.

  • http://projectsinthejungle.com Rob Hedges

    I’m going to see these guys this summer. Can’t wait for the show!

  • Chuck

    Thanks for the review!!!! …and this band cannot have the same recognition because it does not sound like in flames and dark tranquillity, totally different audience!!! A\m/A

  • Barry Neilson

    Fucking love this band. Cannot wait for it…perhaps the only album I am awaiting with more aniticipation this year is the new Opeth offering.

  • Within Darkness

    Can’t help but agree. You know, it’s one of those bands which people accuse of being repetitive at most, but dang, they always deliver one hell of a viking slaughterhouse with each release and I immediately fall for it every time. So yeah, I’ll be the last one to complain. They did it again in their own AA way and I’d have no other. Just more and more of the same which I respect deeply.

    P.S. Lovin’ the “Aerials” cover. Can’t believe I’m actually liking a song that has anything to do with SOAD, but this is just brilliant.

  • Steel Druhm

    Within Darkness,
    I totally agree. Sadly, my promo version didn’t have the SOAD cover. I’m anxious to hear it even though I hate that band.

  • bzzzr

    IMHO they ruined Aerials by SOAD :(

    It’s one of the 4-5 songs I like by SOAD, but this was totally ruined, sorry to say.

    This is the second shot I gave Amon amarth, and they blew it, like totally. Like Finntroll, I just can’t see what they have to offer.

    Since many other people like them, my loss I suppose ..

  • Ciaran

    I liked it, but still think SYL are better. Maybe it’s apples to oranges, but whenever I hear AA I think SYL goes viking.

    • http://www.last.fm/user/opeth027 Kyle

      Definitely apples to oranges there… :P

  • Diogo

    This is more like a 3.5*. I place this album at the bottom of their discography.

  • sorteal

    Just finish listen to this album all the way through and all I can say is WOW!! This may be my new favorite from this year over taking Burzum : Fallen. Amazing stuff!!

  • Steel Druhm

    Sorteal,

    I’m with you man, I love this album in a big way.

  • Malevolent Jim

    I liked the album a bit, but I thought that “Twilight Of The Thunder Gods” had a better guitar sound. It just seemed “chunkier” than the new album, if that makes sense? That was my only gripe with this album, otherwise it’s great in my opinion.

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      Yeah, it’s alright. I still think that With Oden on Our Side is their best. :)

  • Sjoerd

    Great review of another great album from Amon Amarth!! Love the album, it’s been in my stereo since I got it!
    Have to ask tho, any chance you’ll sell me your promo version? I’m an enthousiactic Amon Amarth collector :)

  • Steel Druhm

    Thanks for the readership Sjoerd. We don’t sell or distribute promos. Those are strictly for review use.

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      Quick on the uptake!

  • Steel Druhm

    That law degree is finally coming in handy.

  • http://metalscissors.wordpress.com Konrad SzataÅ„ski

    This CD is great! For me it’s the best album in metal so far in 2011.

  • Thor Norway

    This album is f***ing SICK! The best AA album for a long long time. Great review, but in my opinion “Twilight of the thunder god” was a TOTAL dissapoitment, “With oden on our side” was “OK” but this is the god old mighty AA returning with their old style. The riffs are more catchy and original at the same time, and the brutal voice that suites Hegg and AA best is back in this album! Thanks Amon Amarth!!!

  • http://brandylovesmetal.tumblr.com BrutalBrandy

    I love your reviews. This album is sick and i cannot wait to see them this month. A full night with JUST AA… be still my racing heart! :)

    Again, awesome review… as always.

  • Steel Druhm

    Thanks Brandy, it is a mighty sick album. Enjoy the live show!!

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  • Ben

    I’m not gonna write rational stuff here. Just listened to the album one time, and FREAKING HELL it’s amazing! It’s true Amon Amarth, with a little extra twist too keep it interesting, but not so much that it fears away oldschool fans.

    There’s only a few bands of which the albums are catchy the first listen and stay strong for a LONG time, it’s Rammstein and most definately Amon Amarth. Never disappoint!

    A fat 9/10 from me.

  • Ben

    Sorry that I forgot to mention: Awesome review man. One hundred percent agree, well written!