Saturday, 12 December 2009
CD Review: Twilight of the Thunder God, by Amon Amarth (2008)
Sweden's Amon Amarth pull together one of the best viking metal CDs with this collection of 10 songs. Twilight of the Thunder God features well-constructed mid-tempo tunes, full of power and fury but very sharply led by mostly magnificent melodies. This is Amon Amarth's eighth label release, and while it's taken them a long time, they have now helped define the peak of this particular sub-genre.
And while the album cover art is terrific, it really does not seem like a fair fight now, does it?
The band finally harness their undoubted power with strict control, and on each track the energy is clearly channeled in a cohesive direction. Every track rumbles with the fury of a massive army in motion, but all the troops are following the commands of the lead melody delivered by the twin guitar attack of Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Soderberg. The deep growl of Johan Hegg perfectly fits the band's sound.
The songwriting is mature and professional, with interesting tempo changes and elegant transitions. The cello even makes an appearance on Live for the Kill courtesy of Apocalyptica, and it's in perfect harmony with the song.
Not every track hits the mark perfectly. Where is Your God? appears to be mostly a test of speed pounding, and both Varyags of Miklagaard and Tattered Banners and Bloody Flags are a bit ponderous.
But the highlights are plenty. Twilight of the Thunder God is a great opener that sets the stage for the rest of the CD, while No Fear for the Setting Sun introduces a hypnotic staccato guitar riff that is used to build a massive aural assault.
Even better are the three perfect tracks on the CD. Guardians of Asgaard has a massive but bouncy guitar riff that demonstrates what can be done with clever staccatos, backed by a furious but controlled collective assault from the band. The Hero is one of those rare songs defined by a simple but effective melody that instantly drops into a marvellous mid-tempo groove where all the elements fuse to create a shining theme.
And Embrace of the Endless Ocean ends the CD and perfectly summarizes the band's achievement with a soaring guitar melody that magnificently rises above the massed armies and takes a final look down on the bloody Twilight of the Thunder God battlefield.
Johan Hegg - Vocals
Ted Lundstrom - Bass
Olavi Mikkonen - Guitar
Fredrik Andersson - Drums
Johan Soderberg - Guitar
Songlist (ratings out of 10):
1. Twilight of the Thunder God - 9
2. Free Will Sacrifice - 8
3. Guardians of Asgaard - 10 *See Video Below*
4. Where is Your God? - 6
5. Varyags of Miklagaard - 7
6. Tattered Banners and Bloody Flags - 7
7. No Fear for the Setting Sun - 9
8. The Hero - 10
9. Live for the Kill - 8
10. Embrace of the Endless Ocean - 10
Produced, Engineered, Mixed, and Mastered by Jens Bogren.
All Ace Black Blog CD Reviews are here.