Amon Amarth - Sutur Rising (Metal Blade/Riot)

Eight albums in but the Viking warlords are by no means losing momentum
Release Date: 
29 Mar 2011 - 9:30am

It's hard to believe that Amon Amarth have been around for twenty years and released seven studio albums prior to the forthcoming Sutur Rising. After a decade-and-a-half of relative obscurity, 2006's With Oden On Our Side brought the Viking metal qunitet raping and pillaging into the mainstream, or at least as far into the mainstream as Swedish death metal gets.

Sutur Rising opens with War of the Gods, which kicks in with Johan Hegg's unmistakeably brutal growl, the trademark soaring guitar harmonies from Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg, and crushing double kick work from Fredrik Andersson, all of which set the tone for the album. Amon Amarth's work continues to be full of Norse mythology, war, battles, swords, slain cowards, avenged kinsmen, and so on, although bizarrely the most obvious-titled track, Wrath of the Norsemen, is one of the weaker tracks on the album.

Amon Amarth's sound is so distinctive it's difficult to know if and how the magnificently-bearded quintet can do anything genuinely different to their previous albums. However, there are numerous examples of the band developing and trying new things; For Victory or Death has a keyboard/guitar intro which could quite easily be from more radio-friendly Scandinavian romance luminaries HIM. SR also features some crushing guitar solos and riffs slower and heavier than James Gandolfini's breathing, particularly on the Last Stand of Freij. They even find time on album closer Doom Over Dead Man to employ the services of an orchestra.

There are more than one similarities to songs such as Twilight of the Thunder Gods and the frankly perfect Cry of the Blackbirds, but why not? Amon Amarth have a sound, and it's a fucking good sound. They've grafted for a ridiculous amount of time and are now reaping the rewards with high profile headline tours, including a forthcoming double-header with Children of Bodom. They have found the right balance of devastatingly heavy death metal and powerful melodic anthems and if they continue to produce albums of this quality, us metalheads will be a very lucky bunch of people.

Sutur Rising is out on March 29th through Metal Blade/Riot