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4.5 out of 5 skulls
September 6, 2013 | ,

Amon Amarth Deceiver of the Gods

By Odin’s ball sack, Amon Amarth know how to write a fucking metal album! Deceiver of the Gods no only continues the cohesiveness that we heard on Surtur Rising, but surpasses it with one swing of their bloodied battle axe. From the opening melodies and catchy (if not familiar) riffage of the title track to the absolutely bone-shattering battle scene of “Warriors of the North,” these five Swedes lay down one hell of a record.

There isn’t a whole lot of innovation to be found on these ten tracks as the band settles comfortably into their distinct sound and presentation. But that’s not going to be an issue for even passing fans of the band. The overall experience of Deceiver of the Gods is that of completeness. Each song feeds the next. Each riff flows over mist enshrouded, rolling hills as the rhythm section echo the driving hoofbeats of mounted warriors. Yes, the music here is comfortable and reminiscent of the group’s past efforts, but it’s more thought out in terms of flow and presentation.

The title track starts off the album with a memorable bit of guitar work before diving headlong over the side of their long boat into the churning northern seas roiling with driving riffs and galloping drums. Vocalist Hegg is on top of his game with one of the more recognizable voices in metal — there are familiar vocal patterns but that’s the band’s style and they just work here. Mikkonen and Söderberg toss riffs and leads back in form with a smoothness and fluidity, often combining for a sound that soars and bruises at the same time. The rhythm section of bassist Lundström and drummer Andersson lay down a solid foundation and know exactly when to build expectations and when to let them marinate a bit before unleashing a blast of mayhem.

“As Loke Falls” carries the momentum that the album opener set with catchy guitars and a head-banging groove. Melodic and flowing, the music with this second track isn’t as aggressive as later tracks, but it helps build the story of Deceiver of the Gods and still has some solid weight of it’s own, not to mention some seriously impressive lead work. “Father of the Wolf” is a stellar song that delivers a beefier sound and fuller riffs that not only have plenty of groove, but also a tinge of malevolence especially during the big chorus.

I love the contagious nature of “Shape Shifter.” It’s more up-tempo than the opening trio of tracks and is packed full of head-banging mayhem and a more aggressive overall vibe. The fact that it has a catchy as hell chorus for you to growl along with certainly doesn’t hurt either. “Under Siege,” one of the best songs on the album along with the aforementioned “Father of the Wolf,” is a brooding track that starts off a little slowly before Amon Amarth ramp up the action smoothly with moshy riffs, soaring leads and steady rumble from the rhythm section and a vicious finale. “Blood Eagle” is gruesomely awesome in its story and just as violent in its music. And does anyone else hear White Zombie (La Sexorcisto era) in the riffage just after the three minute mark?

With “Hel,” we see/hear the band get slow and dark, but the inclusion of ex-Candlemass crooner, Messiah Marcolin, and his attempt to balance/offset Hegg’s lower, guttural growls doesn’t quite sit right with me. I like the fact the the guys are trying to get out of their comfort zone with the song, but Messiah’s style has never been one of my favorites. Perhaps someone a little less flamboyant and more mid-range would have worked better. That said, i still dig the malevolence that this song brings to the table. Thankfully, we have “Coming of the Tide” to reel things back into the fray with charging guitars and one hell of a memorable bit of lead work. The song is beefy, infectious and memorable. Album closer “Warriors of the North” is an epic song in its scope, weighing in at eight minutes in length.

Deceiver of the Gods is Amon Amarth doing what they do best, sounding like Amon Amarth. Catchy song structures, addictive choruses, stellar musicianship and impeccable delivery are all traits that any band would dream of attaining on a consistent basis. And that’s exactly what Amon Amarth have done with the ten tracks on their latest offering in a long line of great albums.

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