Released: 1999, Metal Blade
And Odin begat Amon Amarth. Yes, those marauding band of death metal warriors has returned, after a lengthy wait for North American release, with a new slab of state-of-the-craft death metal. The question is, Is it the savior of death metal that everyone expected? Well, yes, and no. They are indeed a skilled band that craft blistering, yet melodically catchy songs, but this time around, they don't have the advantage of surprise. I mean, Once Sent From The Golden Hall was a fantastic death metal album that cuffed everyone upside the noggin'. But it had the advantage of catching everyone by surprise. So what do Hegg and co. have in store for us this time?
Well, simply put, more of the same. Is it aggressive? Damn straight! Is it punishing? Hell yeah! Is the band skilled at their instruments? Without a doubt. And of course, they have that guitar sound. Y'know, the one that sounds like a guitar crossed with a buzzsaw being played by a crackhead on acid. It is without a shadow of a doubt (thanks Rock!) the most exciting guitar sound to hit metal in a long time. And the mighty Johan Hegg's vocals still rip. The problem is, we've heard it all before. Since this is just their second release, I'd hate to think that Amon Amarth have blown their creative wad already…but this album makes me wonder. The songs continue in the same grinding march style, while the lyrics still explore various aspects of battle, war, blood, death, paganism, and heroes (not necessarily in that order).
So, is this a good record? Yes, it is. But having set the bar so high on Golden Hall, the band suffers a bit here from stagnation. Here's hoping they shake the sophomore blues and blow us out of the water next time out.