Time flies when you’re having fun. This is, believe it or not, the eighth release from Viking metal stalwarts, Amon Amarth. Where do you start with reviewing an Amon Amarth record? You know what this sounds like already, don’t you? On “Surtur Rising”, the band have taken everything they know (and everything we love) and distilled their essence into ten tracks of splendid head banging, spine crushing heavy metal. True to form, there remains the fascination with Norse mythology, the twin tracked guitar parts, the powerful drumming and, lest we forget, the tunes. Amon Amarth write cracking tunes, full of melody, structure, vim and vigour.
‘War of the Gods‘ has a bit of an In Flames style guitar part about it before the unmistakably bear-like vocals of man mountain Johan Hegg remind us who we’re really listening to. If anything, Hegg‘s growl has become deeper and more pronounced on this album. It’s as if he wants to reclaim (for Odin, one suspects) his trademark howl. And he does- marvellously. ‘Tok’s Taunt- Loke’s Treachery Part II’ is the follow up to ‘Hermod’s Ride to Hel- Loke’s Treachery Part One‘ from the “With Odin on Our Side” album- and is as dynamic and as sweeping as that was. I defy anyone to listen to ‘Live Without Regret’ without wanting to headbang or ‘The Last Stand of Frej‘ without throwing the horns and beating a barrel chest.
‘Wrath of the Norsemen’ has a riff crunchier than a chocolate honeycomb factory and ‘Destroyer of the Universe’, whilst sounding uncannily like a companion piece to ‘Twilight of the Thunder Gods‘, has enough dynamic playing for you not to be that bothered.
There’s nothing on “Surtur Rising” that’s going to make you go “mmm, Amon Amarth, I never rated them before, but this new album is such a radical departure…” Come on, you didn’t expect that nor, if you’re honest, did you want that. Eight albums in and Amon Amarth have delivered another slab of solid, Viking inspired metal. As if we ever doubted they could.
Yes, it’s got Odin on its side, yes it’s about Vikings and yes it’s completely, unequivocally, metal. It’s also got a fabulous Boris Vallejo –inspired cover depicting a Norse giant entering battle against the gods at Ragnarok. It’s the perfect companion piece to the music within. With “Surtur Rising”, Amon Amarth have delivered again: it’s belligerent, uncompromising, consistent and great entertainment. If time flies when you’re having fun, then Amon Amarth are, surely, having a blast.