Amon Amarth - Twilight Of The Thunder God
Amon Amarth are one of those rare breed of bands that you know you can always depend on. While other bands change style to suit the times Amon stick to what they do best. And what they do best is releasing thundering Melodic Death Metal albums full of Viking imagery.
Sure, over the course of their sixteen year history there have been a few tweaks here and there but the essential D.N.A of the band his remained staunchly unchanged. Now on their seventh album, Twilight Of The Thunder God, they continue along the path to Valhalla unabated and care not for any real musical development.
Even if you had never heard of the band before a cursory look at the evocative front cover would give you a fair idea of what's in store. All the Norse thematic standards are here from Thor and the Ragnarok in the album opener to wishing for a return to Scandinavia at the end of an epic quest in moving closer Embrace the Endless Ocean.
These tales are all set to the bands trademark Melodic Death punch. One of the good things about Amon Amarth is despite hailing from Stockholm they have always stood slightly apart from that cities famous scene.  They also don't quite fit in to that other Swedish bastion of Death Metal, the now overpopulated Gothenburg sound.
While elements of both of these styles make themselves heard throughout the album, the band pull in various different influences from the metal tapestry including some very traditional metal riffs to bolster their sound. The bellowed vocal commands of man-mountain Johan Hegg also help them stand out from the crowd.
The production of this latest release is slightly smoother than its more roughly hewed predecessor With Odin On Our Side. This is strange as it was recorded and mixed at the same studio with the same producer, Jens Bogren at the helm. It's actually slightly disappointing as the band image and subject matter lends to a more direct style. Still this doesn't hold the album back too much as it still conjures images of fierce Viking battles and leads the listener back to a violent time of Gods and monsters.
Of course it always helps when there are some stunning songs along with the imagery and Twilight has them in spades. Opener Twilight Of The Thunder God expands on the albums art work and tells of Thor's conflict with the Midgard Serpent Jormungander. It sums up the bands appeal in a nut shell with some terrific catchy riffing and almost thrash metal breaks. Hegg's vocals are particularly devastating as he roars the song's title again and again towards the end of the track. It also features a short but still mightily impressive solo courtesy of Children Of Bodom's Roope Latvala.
Roope is not the only famous name to appear on the album. The swaggering Guardians of Asgaard features some vocal contributions from L.G Petrov of Entombed. It's triumphant attitude and defiant lyrics mark this one out as a future fan favourite.
Perhaps the best guests on the album are those Finnish cellos wielders Apocalyptica on the second last track Live For The Kill. This is the only real attempt to try something new on the record and it works very well indeed. The urgent NWOBHM drum beats complement the deft riffing of guitarists Olavi and Johan perfectly and when the cellos are introduced at 2.55 playing the guitars melody it adds another string to the bands already deadly bow.
There are perhaps a couple of songs on the album which don't stand up to closer scrutiny. Tracks like Free Will Sacrifice and Varyags Of Miklagaard make for a fine listen but don't leave any lasting impression. This is a shame as while not exactly filler they just don't match the rest of the albums vigour.
In saying that, Amon Amarth have managed to put together as strong an end to an album as I've heard all year. The last three tracks are all exceptional and round of the album in fine style.
The Hero starts out with a slight Gothenburg guitar sound before kicking in with a grave mid tempo riff reminiscent the title track from the bands Fate Of Norns release. The subject of the song is of a mercenary sword for hire that has been cut down in battle and begins to contemplate the actions of his life as he moves closer to death. Hegg uses his lower vocal range for the verses to help convey the warriors weighty thoughts and the remorseless cry of "I know who I am, I'm an evil man" at the end of the song sends shivers up the spine.
Next is the aforementioned Live For The Kill which leads onto the final track Embrace Of The Endless Ocean. It's a superb closer to the album and its sorrow filled tone fills the heart with the weary protagonists longing to set foot on his homeland one last time. The guitars have a slightly arctic edge to them which chills as the storm described in the lyrics finally drags the hero under the waves of the ocean. The mans last thought of his family is moving as the instrumental passage that ends the song fades away into nothing. It leaves you wishing the band had carried it on for longer.
Twilight Of The Thunder Gods, while not being the bands strongest release is certainly worth investigating. If you are not familiar at all with the band then it's as good a starting point as any and if you're a long term fan then it's familiar riffs and subject matter will envelop you from start to finish.

Written by Stuart
Thursday, December 4, 2008
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Comment by gizmo (Member) - Sunday, December 7, 2008
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Comments: 140
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Their best IMO but I have only heard the three latest.

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

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Review by Modulator (Member) - Friday, January 9, 2009
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The best Amon Amarth cd so far. Much more accessible and with better vocals.

Rating: 9/10

Posted by Modulator
Friday, January 9, 2009

Review by Stuart

Released by
Metal Blade - 2008

1. Twilight of the Thunder God
2. Free Will Sacrifice
3. Guardians of Asgaard
4. Where Is Your God?
5. Varyags of Miklagaard
6. Tattered Banners and Bloody Flags
7. No Fear for the Setting Sun
8. The Hero
9. Live for the Kill
10. Embrace of the Endless Ocean

Supplied by Metal Blade

Melodic Death/Viking Metal

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Amon Amarth - Official Website

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