Friday, May 22, 2015

Amon Amarth - The Avenger (1999)

The road to perfecting Amon Amarth's sound continued on, only one year after the full length debut "Once Sent From The Golden Hall" was released, the Swedish vikings unleashed their sophomore effort, known as "The Avenger". Even if it has not been spoken much about it in recent years, it is still a milestone in the history of the band, because this record was the first one with the line-up that lasted all of 17 years (1998-2015). Drummer Martin Lopez and rhythm guitarist Anders Hansson was replaced by Fredrik Andersson and Johan Söderberg, completing a line-up that would last longer than most band would ever dream of being active.

And with the line-up ready and set, Amon Amarth would really begin their journey to create their own unique sound. "The Avenger" is much more like the Amon Amarth we know today than its predecessor. It has more melodies, it is catchier, and the Norse mythology theme is amped up here. The album still has a strain of the dirty, black metal esque sound that was prominent in "Once Sent From The Golden Hall", but it hides in the background and lurks. Really, the only thing that ties the two albums together is the dark production made by Peter Tägtgren (should be noted though that "The Avenger" does sound a lot clearer than its predecessor).

Despite being a more melodic record, "The Avenger" does not quite have the same number of memorable songs as OSFTGH. The album definitely has some show stoppers in it, but they do not deliver as much force as I would have wanted. It is the riffing that really lifts the material in this album. Mikkonen and his new partner Söderberg delivers both heavy assaults and melodic complexity, but it is when they create these long, swooping rows of notes that gives me the chills. A classic Amon Amarth tactic that the band still uses to this date.

The album is fairly short in length, only filling around 36 minutes of material, so it is very east for one to feel that the band could have put in more. However, since this album came only 1 year after the predecessor, I feel like the band does not have any real valid reason to fill in more than what they did. Sure, another song or two would have been better, but the risk of those songs being pure fillers would have been very high, which would have hurt the album more than it would help. The material in this record is still fairly decent, but it does not blow you away from your chair. If you against all odds would still fall off your chair, it would probably be because of Hegg's mighty vocals, mixing between black metal screams and pure growling.

"The Avenger" is a fine album and a worthy follow up to "Once Sent From The Golden Hall", but there is not much for me to really grasp for here. None of the songs are strong enough for me to really remember them, making them pretty weak in their lone state. However, put those songs together, and you get a good, enjoyable melodic death metal album. The components are there, so all that is left is for the band to come back swinging with a mind blowing record.

Songs worthy of recognition: "God, His Son And Holy Whore", Bleed For Ancient Gods, The Last With Pagan Blood

Rating: 7/10 Metalwraths

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