Amon Amarth – Deceiver Of The Gods
An oft-debated topic amongst the metal community is the legitimacy of the term ‘viking metal’. Regardless, whether or not you agree with the use of viking metal as a subgenre (and I do not), there arguably is not a more recognizable name associated with the term than Amon Amarth. Formed in 1992, this melodic death metal band from Stockholm, Sweden has become one of the most popular bands to sing about vikings in a genre filled to the brim with bands that sing about vikings.
Deceiver Of The Gods is no different in the lyrics department than anything else in Amon Amarth’s library. Right away, we see four straight song titles that reference the Norse god Loki, including the title track. “Deceiver Of The Gods” starts out with a short, semi-epic intro before transitioning to a straightforward fast-paced melodeath number. “As Loke Falls” and “Father Of The Wolf” continue right where “Deceiver” left off, combining plenty of melody with aggressive riffs and tempos. “Shapshifter” is less melodic than the previous three songs, but includes nice lead guitar work over the riffing.
“Under Siege” starts similar to “Shapeshifter”, but with more technical riffing. It then ups the melody to produce an epic chorus before closing with an incredible outro that transitions from the standard driving metal sound to a very effective acoustic passage. Unfortunately, this is followed by the worst song on the album, “Blood Eagle”, a song with very little sense of direction. Luckily, the album picks right back up again with “We Shall Destroy”, and my favorite track on this album, “Hel”. This one features former Candlemass singer Messiah Marcolin performing clean vocals to compliment the standard death growls of Hegg. The cleans give this song the extra edge that much of the album is missing. “Coming Of The Tide” and “Warriors Of The North” close out the album, the former a standard melo-death affair, and the latter the longest and most ‘epic’ song on the album with the most progressive structure.
To be sure, there’s no shortage of melody or energy on this album. Many of the songs are quite anthemic. Amon Amarth incorporates a very noticeable heavy metal feel throughout the album to compliment their melodic death metal style, sometimes reminding me of Seven Kingdoms, especially the Bryan Edwards era. Vocalist Johan Hegg, whose style of growling has kept me away from experiencing this band’s output for the most part, actually sounds decent to my ears on this album. Aside from his usual deep growling, he transitions nicely to a higher harshness from time to time throughout this album. The two guitars are at the forefront of the mix and provide a nice punch while retaining all the melody that you’d expect.
This album is not without its flaws, however. Many of the songs sound too similar to each other, and there are few particular standouts. The riffs, while good, are nothing impressive. There is a considerable lack of solos as well, and the existing ones are short and not particularly creative. The bass, when noticeable, is decently played, but all too often it is completely buried in the mix. The drums do their job holding the tempo, but that’s about it. Often, I forgot there even was a living drummer here. Lastly, the aforementioned Johan Hegg, while sounding better to my ears than on other records, could still stand to improve some.
Overall, this is a very good album that I believe warrants multiple listens and a purchase from the band’s fans. Despite the minor flaws it has, the good far outweighs the ill.
3.5 // 5