Amon Amarth - Surtur Rising
Metal Blade
Melodic Death Metal
10 songs (48:40)
Release year: 2011
Amon Amarth, Metal Blade
Reviewed by Kyle
Major event

Amon Amarth was essentially my first love in the realms of extreme metal. With Oden On Our Side was an instant purchase for me after first watching the video for Cry of the Blackbirds on the short-lived Headbanger’s Ball revival on MTV2, and I’d be hard-pressed to name an album that I am more familiar with than that one. Seriously, I played the shit out of Oden when it first came out. Since then the opening seconds of any new Amon Amarth album haven’t failed in hitting me with a wave of adrenaline, excitement, and familiarity. Considering that the band’s past three albums all start with what boils down to the same guitar riff (seriously, listen to Valhall Awaits Me, Twilight of the Thunder God, and War of the Gods back-to-back), I find it very impressive that the band’s epic melodeath formula has found a longevity that spans across what now amounts to eight full-lengths.

Still, I don’t share many a cynic’s belief that this extremely popular Swedish melodeath phenomenon is making the same album over and over again. Sure, it’s easy to take any track from Surtur Rising and compare it to a past Amon Amarth song, but the fact of the matter is that this album is a streamlined, back-to-basics affair rather than a by-the-numbers one. That’s not to say that SR is one of the band’s best albums – because it most certainly is not – but the overly polished production and songwriting of Twilight of the Thunder God is gone, and in its place are tons of fist-pumping Amon Amarth riffs. At the same time, however, the album lacks the barbaric ferocity of With Oden On Our Side which, for once, made the term “Viking Metal” almost viable.

But let’s get one thing straight: Amon Amarth is not, nor ever has been, a Viking metal band. You can’t call Hammerheart a Viking metal album and then turn around and say the same about Surtur Rising; the two fall into completely different genres. Amon Amarth is a melodic death metal band – albeit a very good one that captures the epic nature of folk metal bands while maintaining simplistic yet effective song structures. Blocky, chugging, riffs, crushing drum patterns, primitive, hellish vocals, and epic tales of Viking warfare and Norse mythology all mold together once again in an album that will surely please, but never surprise.

Part of what I love about Amon Amarth is that, despite its heavy nature, the band still manage to craft songs that are catchy as fuck. While there aren’t any true stand-out songs here – there certainly isn’t an equivalent to the masterpiece The Ocean from the band’s previous record – the memorable nature of each song here is insane. From the catchy melodic guitar lines of War of the Gods and For Victory or Death to the slower, methodic paced numbers like The Last Stand of Frej and Doom Over Dead Man, I found myself getting sucked into each song (I was a bit disappointed in Töck's Taunt as a continuation of Hermod’s Ride to Hell, but on its own it’s quite good). Even after only a few listens I found myself able to recall songs perfectly. Admittedly, Amon Amarth’s songwriting style is hardly what one would call complex, but at least this makes for a pick-up-and-listen album, much like most of the band’s previous records.

This has proved a much more difficult review to write than I had anticipated; While I found some things to say about Surtur Rising that I couldn’t say about past Amon Amarth releases, overall this review could, with a few changes in song and album titles, apply to many of their albums. Perhaps the non-believers are right; maybe Amon Amarth fans are being fed recycled albums year after year, and we’re all fools for buying into it. However, when the music is this enjoyable and the band is obviously passionate about its music, I’m more than happy to call myself one of those fools. Surtur Rising is a no-brainer purchase for Amon Amarth fans, but as it brings no surprises to the table, those who were never on-board to begin with need not bother.

Pros: Solid songwriting as always, songs are epic and catchy

Cons: Doesn't live up to the potential set by the band's best albums

Killing Songs :
War of the Gods, The Last Stand of Frej, For Victory or Death, Doom Over Dead Man
Kyle quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Amon Amarth that we have reviewed:
Amon Amarth - Jomsviking reviewed by Andy and quoted 84 / 100
Amon Amarth - Deceiver of the Gods reviewed by Jared and quoted 90 / 100
Amon Amarth - The Avenger reviewed by Thomas and quoted 77 / 100
Amon Amarth - Twilight Of The Thunder God reviewed by Storm and quoted 96 / 100
Amon Amarth - With Oden On Our Side reviewed by Kayla and quoted 95 / 100
To see all 10 reviews click here
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