Friday, June 21, 2013

Amon Amarth - Deceiver of the Gods (2013)
This album is probably my most anticipated extreme metal release of the year on account of Amon Amarth pretty much being the band that got me into extreme metal in the first place. I was also rather nervous about it because I found 2011's Surtur Rising to be noticeably lacking compared to its predecessor so I wasn't sure if they would continue to stagnate or make an awesome album again. Well, it turns out they did neither with Deceiver of the Gods. They've definitely made a more consistent and, perhaps, better written album than Surtur Rising, but this one doesn't live up to Twilight of the Thunder God or With Oden on Our Side which are my two favorite AA albums.

Now, many people may understandably criticize the band for making pretty much no innovation with their sound and being overly consistent (some have even referred to AA as the "AC/DC of death metal"), but I'm willing to overlook that and focus on the quality of the songs. Do they excite me? Are they memorable? I think the answer to both those questions is yes for most of the album. Songs like the title track and especially "Coming of the Tide" are really catchy and just what I was hoping AA would make. On the other hand, there's "Hel" which even though it features Messiah Marcolin (ex-Candlemass) who's one of my favorite singers, it's just not a very interesting track. Similarly, "Warriors of the North" is basically just an average length AA song unnecessarily stretched into an 8 minute epic. Contrast that to the epics "Under Siege" on this album and "Embrace of the Endless Ocean" on Thunder God. Both those songs are 6 something minutes long which seems to be the right length for their epic tracks. But "Warriors of the North" is still a good song of course; it just could have been pared down. Back on the positive side, we have "We Shall Destroy" which probably has the best riffs of any song on the album. The intro alone is just awesome. Another very positive point is that Johan Hegg's vocals haven't noticeably deteriorated as many other extreme vocalists' vocals have.

Besides the main album there are the 4 bonus tracks which are a really cool tribute to classic metal bands such as Maiden, Priest, Motorhead, and even AC/DC. Johan Hegg adopts a rather different vocal style in these tracks which makes him sound not too far from Darkthrone's Nocturno Culto on this year's The Underground Resistance. It's a very interesting and surprising move by the band and I applaud for them doing it.

To sum up: Deceiver of the Gods is as solid an album as you'd expect of one of melodeath's biggest names and while it's not breaking any musical boundaries or changing the band's sound in any way, it's still a really enjoyable listen that will undoubtedly continue to grow on me.

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