Monday, May 4, 2015

Amon Amarth - Once Sent From The Golden Hall (1998)

In 1988, a bunch of Swedes with Finnish origin created the band Scum, a sort of grindcore band that based their music on dark atmospheres, jagged riffs and a whole lot of mead. This band did not get any notable recognition at all until around 1992 when the band changed vocalists. Out went Paul Mäkitalo (whom later joined Dark Funeral as Themgoroth for a short period of time) and in came Johan Hegg, and it was his presence and his mighty voice that changed the band into a direction that would make them stars. The band focused their song writing on the Norse mythology and changed the name Scum to Amon Amarth, named after the Sindarin name for Mount Doom in the J.R.R. Tolkien classic "Lord of The Rings" trilogy (a.k.a the volcano in which Frodo throws the ring into).

After a couple of low quality demos and another pair of member switches (ultimately making Olavi Mikkonen the only remaining founding member), the band finally released their first full length album in 1998, 10 years after the creation of the band. "Once Sent From The Golden Hall" was the name, and lyrically, it is not much different from the Amon Amarth material we are hearing today. It is songs about battles from the Viking age and stories about Thor, Odin and the rest of the gods and creatures in the Norse mythology. The big change is instead in the music itself. It is darker, rougher, and much muddier in the production, but you can still hear that this is Amon Amarth you are listening too. The melodies are definitely there, but not as clear or prominent as you can hear in albums like "Surtur Rising" and "Twilight of The Thunder God".

Let us focus instead of the pure quality of the work, which is actually quite nice. The twin guitars cooperates well together, the drums are blasting through, and Johan Hegg's voice is like a thunder storm, roaring through your speakers and blowing you away. The production does hurt the band in some degree, but it is not bad enough to make the listener miss the talent that lies behind the instruments.

The quality of the song material in "Once Sent From The Golden Hall" is quite even. All of the songs are certainly enjoyable, but none of them are any number one hits in my books. It all comes down to how good the melody lines are and how much they stick to your brain. The most memorable part in the entire album is the opening riff to "Amon Amarth". It is a slow, haunting riff that chills your bones to its core, and together with the songs steady pace, the sound effects from a grand battle, and Johan's darkest of vocals, it helps creating a fantastic setting that fits the band so well. I also get struck by the power and fury in the title track and the sweet head banging beat in "Victorious March"

You can definitely hint in this album what would come to happen with this viking group, even if the production could have been much clearer. Nonetheless, "Once Sent From The Golden Hall" is a great, even piece that offers a lot of nice, original music. Amon Amarth brings out a force that is incredibly strong, but still very melodic and well thought out. It does still needs some more polishing before this piece of coal turns into a big, shiny diamond, but the band has the drive, the sound is there, so all that is left is just to evolve and execute it all in the future.

Songs worthy of recognition: Amon Amarth, Victorious March, Once Sent From The Golden Hall

Rating: 7,5/10 Friends of The Suncross

No comments:

Post a Comment