Released: 2006, Metal Blade
Amon Amarth are the poster child for having an unchanging and steadfast vision. 14 years since their inception and the band are still playing a style not too dissimilar than what they were doing on demos, the SORROW THROUGHOUT THE NINE WORLDS EP, or their much appreciated ONCE SENT FROM THE GOLDEN HALL. Of course, with that dedication to their style and craft the band gets a lot of shit thrown their way for not changing. It’s one of those double edged metal swords, change and everyone hates you, don’t change and everyone says you’re doing the same thing over and over again.
The thing with a band like Amon Amarth is that while the band are essentially playing the same Viking death metal they played when they first started, there are some definite differences between each album. Each album plays upon a different aspect of the band’s style, some being a bit more death metal, some being a bit more Viking yet always working within a certain framework. 2006 saw the band release their first DVD, a definite achievement with its 3 DVD’s and mountains of content, including a 22 song centrepiece show. Now, late in 2006 the band have released their follow up to FATE OF NORNS, entitled WITH ODEN ON OUR SIDE. How does this new release stack up to the band’s past glories?
WITH ODEN ON OUR SIDE stands as one of Amon Amarth’s best releases and really blows the last 3 full-lengths out of the water. This is an album that carries all of the band’s trademarks and reincorporates a lot of the dynamics the band has been missing, especially on 2004’s FATE OF NORNS. The band has maintained the production they’ve been using for the longest time, nothing wrong with it, yet quite possibly the reason why many people write Amon Amarth off as a band that always sounds the same.
“Vallhall Awaits Me” is a rather typical Amon Amarth song, with its pounding rhythm, but it’s easy to see the band have at least upped the pace a tad more this time around. The band not relying on plodding epic numbers as much and by the time the chorus hits, you can hear that while the band aren’t in the “epic” tempo they can still create incredibly epic Viking melodies and sounds in a faster tempo. The tremolo riff in the chorus making one raise a fist (or beer, well, more like mead) and shout a long without a worry in the world. This is Amon Amarth taken to a time when their music was not just ear pleasing, but incredibly powerful and emotional. “Asator” is a faster number, and as such it’s also the shortest track on the album; the riffs here jumping from epic tremolo numbers to faster chugging (almost thrash-like) aggression. Johan Hegg’s voice is in top form, jumping from deep guttural lows to screams and one has to love some of the long, drawn out growls.
The band’s plodding, epic nature takes hold in “Herod’s Ride to Hell – Lokes Treachery Part 1”. The track is incredibly melodic, working some impressive melodies around some chugging marching rhythms. The way the lead guitar works here is impressive to say the least, especially during the intro when it cuts in and out just before the vocals come in. Title track, “With Oden On Our Side” also utilizes some impressive melodies, many times incorporated into the riffs to create this sense of an epic Viking battle (which is exactly what the lyrics are about). The melodic, yet aggressive, chorus works wonders especially when the listener is first hit with it at 1:18. It creates a nice switch up, especially when it’s changed slightly when it’s lead into with some marching guitar/tom work.
This album shows that, yes, while the band continues unabated and while the last few albums were damn good, Amon Amarth still has something left in the tank after 14 years. This is the album Amon Amarth should be remembered for, not VERSUS THE WORLD.