Amon Amarth

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Once Sent From The Golden Hall

Amon Amarth - Once Sent From The Golden Hall ©1998 Metal Blade
1. Ride For Vengeance
2. The Dragons' Flight Across The Waves
3. Without Fear
4. Victorious March
5. Friends Of The Suncross
6. Abandoned
7. Amon Amarth
8. Once Sent From The Golden Hall

Forget tinny little clock-radios and large pots of coffee to wake your tired little fanny up in the morning. You've been going about it all wrong! On those mornings when your tired old bones need a kick of pure raging fire, you might do best to throw on the latest Amon Amarth disc and let these boys get you going the A.A. way. Maliscious guitar firepower with the best leads that Dark Tranquillity and At the Gates forgot to use will pry those puffy eyelids open and the torrential blast of Martin Lopez's drumming will shower down like a rampaging rainstorm. And if that doesn't work, singer Johan Hegg will growl at you and scare the bejeezus outta you. Fortunately, the very rousing Amon Amarth is very good perk-up music, one of the more stirring of the Swedish death metal genre. It has taken a few spins for me to really appreciate what is going on here. A.A. isn't quite as immediate as the aforementioned Dark Tranquillity or even In Flames, but the songs are crafted well enough to keep allowing new things to pop out on each new listen. On the first listen you might miss the anthemic fist-pumping lead in the middle of "Abandoned" or the furious drumming on "Without Fear", but all things become evident as you wake up to the disc. For once I don't mind getting up.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 09/1998

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The Avenger

Amon Amarth - The Avenger ©1999 Metal Blade
1. Bleed For Ancient Gods
2. The Last With Pagan Blood
3. North Sea Storm
4. Avenger
5. God, His Son And Holy Whore
6. Metalwrath
7. Legend Of A Banished Man

Amon Amarth subscribes to the old business adage of "We do one thing and we do it well." The Avenger, the latest slab of metal from our heroes in Sweden, is nothing but a continuation of the sound of their last album, Once Sent From Golden Halls. That particular release at first seemed a tad derivative of already existing Swedish death metal bands but over time that album grew on me greatly. What Amon Amarth accomplished there and seemingly has done again with The Avenger is put together an album's worth of well written, aggressively played metal. Sure, they aren't forging new paths, but if they can pull off the beaten path with this much fury and passion, then who can complain? Amon Amarth has the goods down pat in their engaging guitar playing, somehow making sure each and every song has a nice high end lead plastered over blistering riffs. Johan Hegg's vocals are harsh and not necessarily the best thing going, but it fits the music nicely. Simply put, The Avenger gets the highest recommendations for anyone who liked their previous album and should be put on the "Must Get" list for anyone into Swedish death metal.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/1999

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The Crusher

Amon Amarth - The Crusher ©2001 Metal Blade
1. Bastards Of A Lying Breed
2. Masters Of War
3. The Sounds Of Eight Hooves
4. Risen From The Sea (2000)
5. As Long As The Raven Flies
6. A Fury Divine
7. Annihilation Of Hammerfest
8. The Fall Through Ginnungagap
9. Releasing Surtur's Fire
10. Eyes Of Horror

Either Amon Amarth is in a creative rut or they really are keen upon their style, because The Crusher is nothing more than a rehash (or reprise, depending on which verb you choose to use for context) of their previous two albums. Moreover, The Crusher's artwork and motif is almost precisely the same as The Avenger, so you really wonder about precisely how creative this band actually is. And just like The Avenger, Amon Amarth is just providing continuity between their albums by providing essentially the same songwriting formula on The Crusher. Good thing their music is a good time.

The ten songs here are written in the same manner as Amon Amarth seemingly has always written music. It is a very fluid, steady style of Swedish melodic death metal with the growl and rasped vocals and chock full of those smokin' leads. In fact, if you've heard previous Amon Amarth releases, you know precisely what I'm talking about. The Crusher is another slab of that style. For those who might be less aware, Amon Amarth does avoid sounding like simply another In Flames, Dark Tranquillity or At the Gates clone because their rumbling, fluid sound is a bit of a signature. The band has a strong sense of including hooks and melodic guitar passages, without sacrificing the heaviness, to slowly snare a listener's attention.

Fact is, if you've heard previous Amon Amarth releases and enjoyed them, jot down The Crusher on your must-have list. It is not an album that will broaden their horizons, nor yours, but it is darned enjoyable nonetheless. It's easy to forgive a band for repeating themselves if the songs are well done.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2001

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Versus The World

Amon Amarth - Versus The World ©2002 Metal Blade
1. Death In Fire
2. For The Stabwounds In Our Backs
3. Where Silent Gods Stand Guard
4. Vs. The World
5. Across The Rainbow Bridge
6. Down The Slopes Of Death
7. Thousand Years Of Oppression
8. Bloodshed
9. ...And Soon The World Will Cease To Be

In a constantly changing world, sometimes it is good to have a band like Amon Amarth. These lovable Swedish lads have found themselves a niche and are deadset on beating it into the ground. Fortunately for us, they're doing it in a way that keeps them interesting enough to keep listening. Some bands have the knack to stick to trademark songwriting methods and not become stale within three records and Amon Amarth is one of these bands. Sure, the fire and brimstone covers are getting somewhat tiresome, but the albums themselves remain at least mildly interesting.

Granted, I haven't listened a lot to either of the past two releases by Amon Amarth, but that's not totally a knock against them. Versus the World may be forgotten about as soon as this review is over, but the process of listening to it to become familiar with it for review purposes has been enjoyable. For those who haven't been paying attention, Amon Amarth is an epic-oriented band that offers lengthy, grandiose sounding numbers that dwell roughly next door to the world of Melodic Swedish Death Metal. Whereas many of their collegues were awfully worried about coming up with as many catchy Maiden-esque guitar leads as possible, Amon Amarth sticks to denser and heavier rhythms. At times they sound like cousins to Aeternus and their atmospheric epic doom music. Amon Amarth isn't too caught up in being entirely brutal or technically marvelous. Rather, these nine songs stick to their well defined sound. The tempos range from somewhat quick paced to loping, "epic" (you know that word is going to be used quite often, after all) romps. Amon Amarth is also one of the few metal bands that is able to at least make their songs sound a tad different from one another.

While normally I'm not a fan of bands that stick too closely to their formula, Amon Amarth is able to transcend that pit by at least having interesting sounding songs within their style. One shouldn't rush to progress if you can make your expected sound exciting with good songwriting. Fans of any previous album are certainly going to want to see how Amon Amarth fares against the entire planet and for newcomers, this is as good of place to start as any.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2003

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