Amon Amarth – Fate of Norns
Today I’m checking out Amon Amarth’s 5th full-length record ‘Fate of Norns’, a CD I’ve barely listened to over the last 7 or 8 years since I’ve owned it. In fact, I think I’ve listened to it more in the last 24 hours than I have since 2009 (which was three times including now). Though it’s not a bad record, in my opinion, it doesn’t quite measure up to some of their later work. Perhaps if I had discovered this band earlier in their career and heard this album as it dropped, I probably would have loved it right away. But instead, it got overshadowed by later works.
I first heard of Amon Amarth back in 2008, probably only a few months before ‘Twilight of the Thunder God’ came out. A friend from work, Justin, introduced me to them. He loaned me ‘With Odin on Our Side’ and I liked it right away and listened to it quite a bit as I was driving around Western PA installing satellite dishes. But probably around a month or two later ‘Twilight of the Thunder God’ dropped and when I heard that record it became the only album Amon Amarth CD I ever wanted to listen to. Even though I bought the next two albums when they came out, and even downloaded their discography at one point and explored it quite a bit. ‘TOTG’ over shadow’s all of them.
So, because of that, I am in no position to really talk about this band with that much authority without just completely lifting it verbatim from Wikipedia. But I do own 4 CDs and a DVD set from this band. Which means I’m going to be immersed in melodic/Viking/folk/death metal for the next few days while I bullshit my way through a band I know little about. It should be fun.
Since I’m going to be stumbling around this band for a few days I want to address one question I’ve always had about them. What genre of heavy metal are they? They’ve self-identified as a death metal band, which I suppose fits, growled vocals, fast heavy detuned guitars, lots and lots of aggressive double kick drums. But they sing almost exclusively about Norse Mythology, which associates them with Viking metal. Occasionally they do stuff that could be considered folk metal. But when you get down to it, they have a lot of hooky riffs and vocal melodies. Listening to this CD right now I hear an 80’s vibe in the way of Iron Maiden, WASP, and Twisted Sister just sped up, heavier, and with growled vocals. Which doesn’t sound anything like death metal to me. They just don’t seem to fit in one category neatly. Which is probably their strongest asset. The fact you can’t nail them down is a testament to how unique they really are.
Truth be told, I really don’t spend that much time trying to figure out what box Amon Amarth, or any band for that matter, fits in. They are clearly a heavy metal band, and that’s all that matters really. Somewhere in the mid 90’s, all sorts of genres of extreme metal broke out across the globe, and I was unaware of a lot of it for the most part. When I started to pay more attention, I found the music had evolved in so many directions it became impossible for me to figure what was what. So, I simply just don’t bother anymore. I’ll let the kids online argue it out and I’ll just continue to label every heavy metal band as simply ‘Metal’ in my iTunes and waste my time doing something else. (Like photographing, editing, cataloging every single record, CD, DVD/Bluray in my collection then write about it every day.)