Friday, April 29, 2011

Amon Amarth - Surtur Rising




This is... gonzo journalism!

This is... method reviewing!

Come on, Strasberg and Stanislavski, let's rev up my affective (race?) memory and feel the pillage! (I'm German-American, so surely there's pillaging memory in there somewhere....)
I, in the spirit of the pillaging Viking hordes (pretty sure that name's copywritten), have written this entire review of Sweden's Amon Amarth and their newest, Surtur Rising, while drinking mead.

Mead-- the honey-wine every Viking and his mother drank.


You're welcome.
You know how Goddamn hard it is to find mead around here?

The things I do for you....

So: the Mead I actually found,  Oliver's Camelot Mead, tastes like, well, Honey wine (though apparently I should've tried this or thiskind).
A lot stronger than beer, less so than wine, it tastes like really light liquid honey with alcohol in it. I can't stand wine, but this is not bad. Not as good as beer, which I do so enjoy, but not bad at all.

One 5 oz. serving in:
Opener "War of the Gods" hammers in the intro theme with a crushing downbeat with melody that segues into a chorus that you could chant over a fire.... Amon Amarth sound confident and strong, and old Viking ruler --Odin?-- who's seen a lot and knows it back to front...will make you mad mead is so hard to get in comparison to beer;

Former albums have been fairly filler-dense, with a couple or three songs that are so good you forget the rest... I'm curious how this will pan out....

"Töck's Taunt: Loke's Treachery Part II" follows their pattern in songwriting: somewhat memorable verse followed by hooky-in-a- somehow-Viking way chorus... not quite as good as the first track, but quite good... we fade out into:

"Destroyer of the Universe"  which thrashes its ways, at 200 bpm, into a rager of a tune-- sounding like a cousin to "Twilight of the Thunder God" from their previous work, this time faster and with more solos and riffs....

"Slaves of Fear" a rager, though not to the previous degree, but is nothing near filler and rages and rages and rages....

Two Servings (10 oz.) in:
"Live Without Regrets" continues the Viking-themed melody with death metal vocals motif... but does little new with it, Amon Amarth's riffing in B standard, a fifth below standard tuning... somehow making up for the lack of nuance....

"The Last Stand of Frej" is suitable epic (and yet tragic) in its sonic recounting of the tale of the Norse goddess of majick, war and death... fades out to "For Victory or Death," which, clichéd title or no, which starts like a combination of Mercyful Fate and Bay Area Thrash....

Forget "Wrath of the Norsemen" overall, though at 2:10 it drops briefly into a nice little dirge/breakdown... "A Beast Am I" brings the fury back at 230 bpm, leaves behind the melody and just fucking rages....

 "Doom Over Dead Man," though I'm not sure what the title means, is perhaps the most emotional (read: bittersweet) track on here-- primitive instrument melodies about: conches, horns, shouts, abound... the rallying cry of a race (sadly?) long dead....

Long may they live...!!

And: though you know always what you're getting....

Bottom Line (15 ozs. in):


It's their stride.
This is feasting hall music.


This is music you scream with your barbarian friends after you've bested Grendel's Mother.

This is war music that manages to avoid the cheese of Manowar (said with love).

Now hoist your Goddamned tankards...!


To Amon Amarth!!! To Mount Doom!!!

May their kingdom resist weather, time and treachery...!

--Horn
Buy here: Surtur Rising
Buy here Deluxe Box: Surtur Rising
Buy here mp3: Surtur Rising
Buy here vinyl: Surtur Rising

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