CD Review: Amon Amarth – Deceiver of the Gods

CD Review: Amon Amarth – Deceiver of the Gods
Metal Blade
All Access Review: A-

Amon Amarth - Deceiver of the Gods 2013
There’s a special place in Valhalla reserved for AmonAmarth. Brandishing guitars like gleaming, freshly sharpened blades, the Swedish death-metal war party and Iron Maiden descendants have earned it with an admirable body of brutally heavy wet work.

Obsessed with Norse mythology, Amon Amarth is known for drawing scenes of bloody battles forgotten by history and paying tribute to courage in close combat on rough terrain strewn with stinking, decomposing corpses. Gird your loins once again, because the relentless Deceiver of the Gods has come to pillage and plunder with songs armed to the teeth with beast-like riffage, hell-spawned vocals and strong, dynamic melodies forged in steel that survive massive storms of transfixing sound and fury. 

The squishy, gurgling noises of a man bleeding out and breathing his last after being stabbed is heard right before the rampaging “Blood Eagle” storms whatever territory it is that Amon Amarth must take by force, and it is sobering. A revenge song, replete with the ghoulish moaning of Viking ghosts, “Blood Eagle” is typical of Deceiver of the Gods, thick and intense, but always serving its conflicted masters of shifting, tightly wound harmonies and immense power surges.

Nothing on Deceiver of the Gods has the massive tonnage of “Hel,” a death march that slogs through mud and gore to find the glory of war, if there is such a thing. Immersed in traditional metal and doom elements, “Hel” is a black mix of different vocal textures, comprised of Johan Hegg’s usual hoary growl, deathly background wailing and the operatic histrionics of Candlemass guest singer Messiah Marcolin, who sounds like Bruce Dickinson’s evil twin. Those thick, burly guitars that smash “Hel” into kindling also crush “We Shall Destroy,” and they come in mammoth waves. But it’s the melodic spirals of guitars that lift the soul of that track above the instrumental chaos and violence on the song’s terra firma that really astound, as they do on the pummeling closer “Warriors of the North” and the punishing, explosive “Shape Shifter.”

Known for his ability to heighten the impact and sonic aggression flooding out of his client’s amplifiers, producer Andy Sneap increases the voltage of Amon Amarth on Deceiver of the Gods. Electricity courses through the veins of these tracks, riding old-school power chords into the night. Their grooves are somehow even more muscular than ever on the turbo-charged “Father of the Wolf” and the title track’s furious thrashing, and the melodic parts – see the intro to the fast progressive-metal maze “As Loke Falls” – are assertive and magical, almost spellbinding at times.

The devilishly playful Norse god Loke inhabits this indomitable fortress of metal, and Amon Amarth only encourages him, following his melodic whims and destructive tendencies. Similar in character to previous releases, Deceiver of the Gods finds Amon Amarth sticking to a formula that works for them, adding power and definition to every unexpected, expertly executed maneuver and rich tonality to their remorseless attack. This is a well-plotted battle plan, the likes of which Rommel might have conceived. Whatever game of thrones Amon Amarth is playing, they are winning.
– Peter Lindblad

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