If there’s one thing Sweden knows, it’s melodic death metal. The “Three Kings” of Carcass, Dark Tranquillity, and In Flames gave birth to the genre there in the early 1990s, and help paved the way for the bearded rage that is Amon Amarth. Their eighth studio album, Surtur Rising, is yet another serving of the quintessential sound that the Viking warriors have been cultivating for the past 20 years.
Vocalist Johan Hegg opens “War Of The Gods” with his inimitable mighty bellow, catapulted along by wailing guitar harmonies and drummer Fredrik Andersson’s blazing footwork. “Slaves Of Fear” pummels your ears relentlessly, while “The Last Stand Of Frej” slows it down a bit, allowing Hegg’s godlike roar to wash over the listener. Not to be missed is “A Beast Am I,” which features a clean guitar interlude before colliding with the final track, “Doom Over Dead Man,” the band’s trademark saunter punctuated by grandiose synth horns.
Hegg’s vocals are perfectly captured here. The demonic richness of tone that was missing on previous endeavors is here in full force, and it makes for a terrifying listening experience. Similarly, the bass drum has a hefty punch that many extreme metal albums ignore. Coupled with the crunchy guitars and rumbling bass, this is a full-spectrum listening experience.
Amon Amarth does not venture out of their box, and with good reason. They’re so accomplished at their particular sound, and they know the fans will keep coming back for more. Surtur Rising is yet another slice of pure Viking fury, and should not be missed by fans of the band, and of melodic death metal in general. If you’re looking for Ragnarok in a bottle, this is it.