"Fate of Norns" behind them, this was indeed the perfect time to bounce back with force.
And how they turned it around! Instantly upon starting the album, you get hit by the amazing riffing assault signed by Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg, mixing both frenetic fast riffs with more melodic ones. I especially love how they worked together in "Cry of The Black Birds", such a fantastic symbiote that creates beautiful music. And as always, Johan Hegg lifts the album with his amazing vocal performance, never missing a tone, always bringing the powerful impact. And yes, even bassist Ted Lundström and drummer Fredrik Andersson helps a lot to give the album its unique personality.
But the main part of why the album is a killer is the songs. God damn, there are so many great songs in this album that you can almost drown in them. And it is not like they all follow the same recipe of success, the variety is about as great as the overall quality is. We got the fast and heavy "Asator", the epic "Runes To My Memory", the goose bump inducing "Cry of The Black Birds", the beautiful "Under The Northern Star", and the rifftastic "Valhall Awaits Me". You turn your head, and you find a great song. You take a step to the side, and find another one. The album is so stacked with great songs that you cannot get away from them before you have gone through all of them, only to realize later that you wanna get back to them as soon as possible. Only the songs "Hermod's Ride To Hel - Loke's Treachery Part 1" and "Prediction of Warfare" falls a little bit short, not because they are bad, but because the rest of the field is so much more memorable.
And what would a Amon Amarth album be like without its Norse mythology inspired lyrics. As some of you might have guessed from the album title, the main theme of the album is about men who feel like the gods are on their side, helping them to bring victory. But there is always that one song that strikes me the most with its lyrical story, and in "With Oden On Our Side", that song is "Runes To My Memory". It has a story about a man defeated in battle, a man that will be immortalized in a rune stone so the generations afterwards will know of his heroic deeds. Great story telling that is accompanied with Johan Hegg and his emotional viking screams, creating the perfect atmosphere for the track.
By Oden's beard, this is such an amazing album. Everything, from the cleanly executed production to the perfect instrumentation, is just neck breakingly awesome. The band has always had this potential in them (and they were damn near to already fulfill it in "Versus The World") and it just feels so good to hear that every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears have payed of big time for them. "With Oden On Our Side" is the ultimate viking album, definitely worthy for the gods and us mortals. So if you are ever unsure of this guys really are the real deal or not, give this album a listen, and be prepared to get blown away, stunned, and maybe feel the urge of plundering a village or two.
Songs worthy of recognition: Cry of The Black Birds, Valhall Awaits Me, Runes of My Memory, Asator, Under The Northern Star
Rating: 10/10 Gods of War