Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Release Date: June 25th 2013
The ninth studio album from Viking-influenced melodic death metal band Amon Amarth is not what most might have expected but still it does not disappoint. Deceiver of the Gods is a brutal lesson in death metal and hints at the band’s growth with a trip down memory lane. The album draws from heavily from their past releases but closes with something new, something rather epic and perhaps may serve as an omen of what we can expect from their next release.
Deceiver of the Gods is the follow up to 2011 s Surtur Rising. Upon its release it has been met with mixed reviews. The negative reviews state that even though it is not a bad album, it fails to “break new ground” which is actually true. Again, this is not a bad album. I would say that this is a great album. The major issue is that a lot of the songs on Deceiver feel interchangeable. Surtur Rising was guilty of this but it is very noticeable here.
Amon Amarth are a band that like to embrace relentless busts of fast brutal metal to match songs of warfare and a slower more melodic “marching” style of death metal for their mythological exploits. They have their songwriting and song construction down. This has made them the best in this genre. And that is kind of the issue!
There are some great tracks on the record but there is not much that is really new. Shape Shifter is one of their take-no-prisoners death metal assaults. While We Shall Destroy, Under Siege and Hel(a duet with ex-Candlemass vocalist, Messiah Marcolin) get lost in the shuffle and feel very similar to Shape Shifter after a minute or two. Again, they are not bad songs, they are just very similar at parts.
The performances from all band member are excellent. Frontman Johan Hegg is on form, as always, and provides the record with tales of battle and Norse myth told via fierce throat growls. Hegg’s delivery is the same as it has always been, which makes it feel as we’ve heard these lyrics and vocal patterns before (Warriors of the North is a notable except to this). This is not a bad thing but it is what makes the whole thing seem, again, rather similar at parts. Notice a pattern?
Under Siege is a stylish take on the “Iron Maiden epic” songs like Clansman etc. The guitar/bass great opening riff set the tone for this song and establish the idea of an epic conflict or journey. While the song does drift slightly, it has enough interesting riffs to keep you enthused as the song’s narrative unfolds. It also has a rarity for death metal, a bass solo that leads into the coda of the song.
Blood Eagle recalls past Amon Amarth songs like Valdall Awaits One or Death in Fire; it is a fierce and violence depiction of battle that is met over an instrumental display of death metal joy. Coming of the Tide is another awesome sped-up Viking metal song, and is something more akin to 2008 s Twilight of the Thunder God. These songs echo past hits, and while great, bring nothing new to the table.
One of the songs that has divided people is the album’s closer, Warriors of the North. I will agree that the middle of this 8 minute song is a little tedious. However with an epic song is bound to come a shades of tediousness. Despite that, this song is the selling point of the album. It is also is the single track that hints at progression for the band with a sound that is unique to this record.
The song has some fantastic guitar lines and pulsating bass/drums runs that will recall a similar motif in Guardians of Asgaard. Warriors of the North is the finest example of how talented this band actually are: it contains the album’s most outstanding riffs and the strongest instrumental performances from each member. It is perhaps the most satisfying close to any album of the past ten years. Deceiver builds on the success of their past releases, and it plays like a greatest hits of past albums. However it is a shame that Warriors is the only track that underscores how talented the band are and proves that they are not just a novelty act.
Amon Amarth have a schtick, one that has a degree of authenticity thanks to Hegg’s use of terminology and his ability to stir emotion in his lyrics. You will be taken through Norse myths, Viking raids and the spender of Valhalla. All of which are appealing subject matter and fun to listen to. Amon Amarth’s musical aggression lends them real metal credentials, so it is a perfect mix. This is at the heart of the very true statement that “Amon Amarth cannot make a bad album”. They cannot!
I do not agree that this is their best work but it is still really enjoyable. Few songs on the record will stick with you, and most will be lost on your iPod, the songs that do however will make a lasting impression and for that reason Deceiver of the Gods will have a special place amongst their discography.
Top Songs: Shape Shifter, Blood Eagle, Father of the Wolf and Warriors of the North.
Amon Amarth’s Deceiver of the Gods is out now on Metal Blade Records.
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