Wednesday, 8 June 2011

CD Review: Surtur Rising, by Amon Amarth (2011)

Amon Amarth continue to carefully polish their formula to a fine shine, and on Surtur Rising, they venture just a bit further into more enterprising territory. There are more guitar solos, more pace changes, more complex and artistic passages, without ever abandoning the core of what the band is all about: Viking-inspired melodic death metal, legendary in scope and epic in ambition.

Surtur is a leader of the fire giants in Norse mythology, the not so cuddly character on the CD cover. Surtur Rising becomes the third Amon Amarth album after Fate Of Norns (2004) and With Oden On Our Side (2006) to feature a major mythical Viking figure in its title.

The music lives up to the legends. Surtur Rising offers up 10 tracks with an admirably high level of consistency, indicative of a band at peace with its craft and sharing a singular objective. From the uniformly impressive material, two tracks stand out: opener War Of The Gods is among Amon Amarth's most hooked-up songs in terms of groove, and also sets the tone in introducing variations that layer solos and snappy melodies over the band's signature strumming. For Victory Or Death is a yearning tune soaring over Amon Amarth's home territory of ice fields, with a delicious guitar solo making a brief but most welcome appearance.

There are no weak tracks on the album, just a relaxed sense of achievement, guitarists Mikkonen and Soderberg almost effortlessly guiding the music through valleys with majestic mountain views, and Johan Hegg providing understated narration to the unfolding scenery.

It is uncommon for a band to be at or near the top of its creative output nine studio albums into a career; Amon Amarth have walked along the path of slow but steady progress, and they just continue to sound better as they age.


Johan Hegg - Vocals
Olavi Mikkonen - Guitars
Ted Lundstrom - Bass
Johan Soderberg - Guitars
Fredrik Andersson - Drums

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. War Of The Gods - 10 *see below*
2. Tocks's Taunt - Loke's Treachery Part II - 8
3. Destroyer Of The Universe - 8
4. Slaves Of Fear - 7
5. Live Without Regrets - 8
6. The Last Stand Of Frej - 8
7. For Victory Or Death - 9
8. Wrath Of The Norsemen - 8
9. A Beast Am I - 7
10. Doom Over Dead Man - 8

Average: 8.10

Produced, Mixed and Mastered by Jens Bogren.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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