Monday, October 12, 2015

Amon Amarth - Surtur Rising (2011)

If the song "Twilight of The Thunder God" got my eyes up for Amon Amarth, it was the following album, the 2010 offering "Surtur Rising", that got me hooked. This album continued on the same success recipe that its predecessor perfected. By mixing melody and brutality, and adding some really catchy choruses, the vikings had the right idea to make both its critics and fans happy.

For those of you wondering, Surtur (or in his Swedish name, Surt) is a jötunn, a mythological race of giants that lives in Jötunheimr, one of the nine Norse cosmology worlds. When Ragnarök occurs, he will be one of the leaders against the asagods, wielding a burning sword that shines brighter than the sun. I do not know about you, but it sounds like Surtur is one bad ass giant, and a great character to portray for a metal album.

And as usual, Amon Amrth does just that well. Their lyrics holds the quality you would expect from the band, ranging over several events in the Norse mythology, from Loke's treachery to the battle grounds during Ragnarök. All of this is splendidly told by the band, and well sung by Johan Hegg. If I ever would take a class on Norse mythology, I would love any of these guys to be my teacher.

Just like in "Twilight of The Thunder God", it is the excellent riffing that makes "Surtur Rising" such a great force. Just listen to the opening track "War of The Gods". Here, Amon Amarth unleashes their whole arsenal of riffs, the grinders, the melodic, the catchy, you name it. And to top it all off, they deliver one of the tastiest solos I have heard from the band. The tasty action continues in the groovy "Töck's Taunt - Loke's Trachery Part II", the follow up to the first part that was released in "With Oden On Our Side", and with "Slaves of Fear" that has some incredibly catchy riffs that are very easy humming along to. And I should not forget "For Victory Or Death", a beautiful creation and yet another track with awesome riffing.

The melodies certainly makes the album, but it is actually two extremely heavy tracks that highlights it and separates it from "Twilight of The Thunder God". The first one is "Destroyer of The Universe, a huge steamroller that runs over you with aggression and more aggression. A grim song that brings out orgasmic emotions from the listener. The other heavyweight is "A Beast Am I", probably the most brutal song I have heard from the band since their early days. The speed plus the crazy riffs and drum beats makes this song a big, ugly monster that cannot be contained. The surprise calm ending is a weird, but nice touch that works as a good transition to the last song of the album, "Doom Over Dead Man"

"Surtur Rising" is certainly another high calibre release from the Swedes, but it does lack some momentum in some songs to take it among "With Oden On Our Side" and "Twilight of The Thunder God" and their perfection. I will always remember this album as the one that got me into the band and secured my love for them, but after hearing out on their entire discography, I will not rank it as my all time favourite. None the less, an amazing album that deserves the praise.

Songs worthy of recognition: Destroyer of The Universe, War of The Gods, For Victory Or Death, A Beast Am I

Rating: 9,5/10 Slaves of Fear

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