Metal Album Of The Year?
Every now and again an album comes along and simply blows you away. Earlier in the year Testament severely kicked my butt with their come back album 'The Formation Of Damnation'. If that wasn't enough for the rest of the year Amon Amarth have released an album that will make sure the seat of my pants will be peppered into the new year and beyond. 'Twilight Of The Thunder God', although a contender for daftest album mantle, is a perfect example of modern metal. It's heavy, beautifully produced, melodic, varied and most of all full of great songs and performances.
From a personal point of view their last album, 'With Oden On Our Side', was good but didn't move me too much as they sounded like a lot of other Viking metal bands. Even from the first couple of listens it's obvious that 'Twilight Of The Thunder God', the band's seventh studio album, has the potential to transcend metal's sub genres. Truly great albums have the ability to be loved by more than their core audience by the simple fact that they're bloody great albums. 'Twilight Of The Thunder God' is one of these albums. The whole experience from start to finish is epic. These aren't just songs thrown together in half an hour, they're almost carefully crafted metal symphonies.
The key to this album is the use of lush production against heavy riffs with melodic guitar lines sewing the whole experience together. Even Johan Hegg's growled vocals seem to have more melody because of the tuneful music they're sat upon. One could draw a parallel with Children Of Bodom's 'Hatebreeder' album. It was a disc that was brimming with tunes and great music innovation as well as being damn catchy. Amon Amarth has produced a similar blue print for 'Twilight Of The Thunder God'.
I've yet to hear a weak moment in this disc. All the songs have an appeal whether it is the speedy title track to the battle horns in 'Tattered Banners And Bloody Flags' to the almost anthemic 'Embrace Of The Endless Ocean'. 'Twilight Of The Thunder God' puts the songs first and the result is stunning. The band even enlists the help of Apocolyptica on 'Live For The Kill' to create one of the great ride-outs in metal history.
Amon Amarth has managed to create that rare thing which is an album that is heavy as fuck to please their die-hard fans but extremely accessible to appeal to a new audience. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. If you're a pop rock fan or loathe the growling and if songs about battles and Norsemen makes you wet your pants with laughter then you probably won't find much to like. This is metal under the guise of Viking, battle, death or whatever genres are thrown at it. If you're a fan of thrash or heavier then this has to be in your collection. I've yet to hear a better example of this genre, ever. Have I convinced you to buy it yet? If only Metallica sounded like this.