The term ‘berserk’ comes from the Old Norse literature about groups of warriors who would go into battle in such a frenzied state as to wear nothing but animal skins and rise up in such a fury as to literally sometimes scare their opponents into submission. These ‘berserkers’ were considered by some to be the chosen warriors of Odin himself. In the metal world there is no doubt that Odin’s chosen warriors are Sweden’s Amon Amarth. It will be written and tales will one day be woven telling all that on this, their ninth studio, Amon Amarth joined the ranks of the berserk.
This is not to downplay the previous eight full-length efforts of this band. On the contrary, Amon Amarth has never once written a ‘bad’ album. In fact their model of exceptional consistency puts them on par with very, very few bands in the history or metal. But when you put Deceiver Of The Gods up against previous efforts you’re going to hear quite a bit that you might not have heard before. It’s easy for a warrior to don their chain-mail, go into battle and slay all those who oppose. But it’s a completely different level of power for said warriors to strip down, to bare themselves in a way that could lead to vulnerability and still come out the other end of the fight completely unscathed. Amon Amarth have done just that.
Amon Amarth changed their personal paradigm with how they recorded this album. A traditional segmented approach to recording was replaced with a more natural and “live” recording style. The end result is that this album has a fist-pumping, almost-live appeal. The opening, title track, alone is going to create massive and destructive pits from here to Valhalla. There has always been a certain flow and comfort level amongst these musicians who have spent so much of their adult lives making music together. This might be the album that best expresses that. Also added are passages, and maybe even entire songs, that would have been rejected from previous efforts. Elements of thrash and copious amounts of melody have found their way onto this album. Not only does it not detract from the ‘Amon Amarth sound’ but it enhances it greatly. Whether it’s the Slayer-like riffing going on in “Blood Eagle” or the traditional metal worship of the track “Hel” (which features a fantastic guest vocal appearance by Messiah Marcolin of Candlemass fame) this is a band firing on all cylinders no matter what direction the music takes them in. Like those once mighty warriors of yore they’ve stripped away the armor that may have restricted movement, left themselves vulnerable to attack, and still come out fighting once the dust has settled.
There are few bands in this mixed up world of ours that truthfully deserve the title of “epic”. It is unfortunately a word that has been deluded by the masses who are drowning in a sea of self-inflicted mediocrity. But Amon Amarth can reclaim the title with vigor and restore it to it’s rightful place. Because until you’ve experienced what this band has to offer you have zero clue what “epic” can actually be. This is a triumphant return for Amon Amarth and an album that was well worth the wait.
No homework this week. Just go listen to as much Amon Amarth as humanly possible.