Amon Amarth – Surtur Rising
Continuing with the Swedish Viking metal theme, we move onto Aman Amarth’s 8th studio record ‘Surtur Rising’ an album I got pretty much right when it dropped, and though I liked it, I never really listened to it that much over the last 6 years since its release.
If you read my ‘Fate of the Norns’ review then you might remember that I like this band quite a bit, their record ‘Twilight of the Thunder God’ was so strong it completely overshadowed every other record by them. At least for me. Though I’ve owned both physical and digital copies of most their albums over the years. Anytime I was in the mood for Amon Amarth, I usually went with ‘TOTG’. The result being I am not as familiar with any of the other records I own by them.
The ironic thing, I don’t own a physical copy of ‘Twilight of the Thunder God’. How that happened I can’t be sure. I was first loaned the CD when it came out, so I had on digital format for years. Later, when I got into the whole downloading, I had every Amon Amarth record digitally and continued to buy the new albums when they came out. With funds being limited and there being so many new records and CD’s I wanted to buy, I never got around to purchasing ‘TOTG’. Now it’s on my iPod, but this review series is all about the records, CD’s, DVD’s and Blurays I own physical copies of. I’ll probably include digital albums I paid for when they come up. But for the most part, this project is about the physical item in my collection. So until I pull my head out of my ass and properly buy ‘Twilight of the Thunder God’ it won’t be included in this series. (Since writing this I searched online for a vinyl copy and it’s out of stock.)
That said, I have really done myself a disservice by not listening to this record more over the years. It really is a great CD.
I admit that I am not as familiar with a lot of Amon Amarth’s earlier records or the evolution of their sound. By the time I discovered them in 2008 they had already found their sound and niche. And after listening to ‘Fate of the Norn’, ‘Twilight’ and ‘Surtur Rising’ a few over the last couple of days, I can hear that this band had been going through the process of perfecting their sound little by little on each album for years.
It’s tempting to say they’re just trying to make the same record over and over again. Or that this record is just an attempt to recreate ‘Twilight of the Thunder God’. But I really don’t think this is the case. Everything I love about this record and the preceding one I can hear elements of on earlier albums. The epic song structures, growled but clear vocals, down tuned heavy guitars that focus on catchy riffs, melodic leads, aggressive drumming that doesn’t over abuse the whole double kick things, and Vikings you can’t forget the Vikings. It all there right from the beginning and they haven’t drifted too far from that formula, and its work for them for the most part. I admit their newest release ‘Jomsviking’ was a little weird for me and did seem a bit of a departure from their tried and true sound.
As ‘Surtur Rising’ goes, it exhibits all the elements I mentioned above. But I will say, I’m 3/4’s of the way through the record and it’s starting to bore me a bit. It starts out rather strong, but then as the record progresses I’ve been losing interest. When I stop writing and listen to the CD, I find I love all the guitars, but the overall feel gets tired after a bit. I’m beginning to suspect that perhaps this album isn’t as good as I thought it was when I first put it on and started writing this review. Which is probably why I haven’t listened to as much as I thought I should have.
So to sum it all up. ‘Surtur Rising’ on its own is a decent metal record, with some strong material on it. But when you compare it to earlier efforts from the band it doesn’t quite measure up. At least not the whole way through. If I were to try and introduce someone to this band, this would not be the record I’d start with.