Deceiver of the Gods
With their latest record, Amon Amarth deliver another round of Norse storytelling set to a melodic death metal soundtrack. Now nine albums into their career, the Swedes have developed this combination into a finely tuned package; Deceiver of the Gods gives us everything we expect from the band, along with a little old-fashioned metal revitalization. Melodic leads fly in from every direction, sometimes heading off into soaring solos, sometimes diving into tightly synchronized harmonies. The record never lingers on one aspect too long, so the leads quickly give way to the raw precision of an uber-solid rhythm section. While things mostly power on full speed ahead, the band toss in the odd heavy groove or slower riff for effective contrast. The most ferocious sound is Johan Hegg's bloodthirsty growls, which are emphasized even more by the distinctive, clear force of Messiah Marcolin's (ex-Candlemass) guest vocals on the ominous "Hel." Out of all this, it's the energy Amon Amarth convey more than anything else that makes Deceiver of the Gods so emphatic — especially the interplay and layering of different rhythmic patterns, like adrenaline pumping through the system, so that no matter how heavy things get, they're never weighed down. When Amon Amarth bring it all to a close, they do it on an epic note, with an unusually long and particularly elegiac warriors' tale. If there's a complaint it's that even with such a lengthy track, Deceiver of the Gods finally just stops without the sense of resolution it demands.
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