Released: 2011, Abyss Records
Are you a fan of Amon Amarth? Thousand Year War main man Hiram Lohr certainly is. With all of the success the Swedish Viking metallers have seen in the last decade, I supposed it was only a matter of time before “Amon Amarth 2” was born, because that’s exactly what this band sounds like. Still, for a debut album, TYRANTS AND MEN sounds incredibly polished and well-rounded, both in the band’s musicianship, and the clear but slightly grimy production values that are perfect for this type of rollicking, beery (meady?) metal.
I know I’m laying it on a bit thick, but one listen to opening track “Defiance” will have you wondering if you’re listening to an outtake from TWILIGHT OF THE THUNDER GOD. The vocals are growled but decipherable and the riffs are the perfect kind of Viking rumble to get your head banging. The thing is, Thousand Year War manage to make the song so infectious that you don’t mind the obvious plagiarism and just happily surrender to the music. As the album continues, the band makes sure to hit all of the expected peaks and valleys are hit, round all of the bases, making for a comprehensive walk through Viking metal. Fortunately, the band does stray from the norm lyrically, generally staying away from Nordic mythology for other, equally blood-soaked concerns (“Spartacus” etc.). Special mention goes to the spot-on cover of I’s excellent “The Storm I Ride” which is both surprising and welcome. It also proves that Mr. Lohr has spectacular musical taste.
All told, TYRANTS AND MEN is an immensely enjoyable album, with not a single bad song to be heard. If this were from Amon Amarth themselves I’d be singing its praises and giving it a higher score, but as good as the album is, you just can’t shake the obvious aping of an established style. This is still Thousand Year War’s first album though, so hopefully future releases will allow the band to realize their own musical vision. In the meantime, I’ll be playing the hell out of this album and enjoying its thunderous riffs.