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Amon Amarth - "Twilight of the Thunder God" (CD)

Amon Amarth - "Twilight of the Thunder God" CD cover image

"Twilight of the Thunder God" track listing:

1. Twilight of the Thunder God
2. Free Will Sacrifice
3. Guardians of Asgaard
4. Where Is Your God?
5. Varyags of Miklagaard
6. Tattered Banners and Bloody Flags
7. No Fear for the Setting Sun
8. The Hero
9. Live for the Kill
10. Embrace of the Endless Ocean

Reviewed by on December 9, 2008

"You just might feel Thor’s wrath crushing your mind."

Every once in a while an album comes along that you just can't stop listening to, sometimes to the point where friends and family try to buy you something new, or at the very least suggest making a backup of the one you've been relentlessly spinning for fear you might wear it out. Amon Amarth's seventh full-length studio album, “Twilight of the Thunder God,” is one such offering.

With Amon Amarth at the helm, and a bevy of guest artists ranging from Children of Bodom guitartist Roope Latvala to Apocalyptica as tactical support, the Scandinavian death metal act has created something of substance. Although these Swedes have always had a distinct style and sound that makes them tough to not recognize, this is easily their strongest effort to date and by far the catchiest.

Vocalist Johan Hegg is always ready to rumble and has always managed to make speakers twitch with the low pitch emanating from within. And while his voice on “Thunder God” certainly carries on that tradition, everything is much more dynamic, from his raging aggression and battle cries and enviable ability to display a variety of other emotions, straight through to melodies so distinct that you don’t always have to rely on the guitars to hook you in.

Of course, guitarists Johan Söderberg and Olav Mikkonen wage their own battle against the science of sound, but they do so without intruding on the tones Hegg creates. While their fingers have always been nimble, able to play at speeds oft quicker than the mind can process, they're also not afraid to take their time and let a song breathe when it needs. But really, most of the time they’re playing so clean and intricately that it's tough to tell if they're actually playing or perhaps just channelling the thunder god himself. The solos kill, especially Söderberg's on “No Fear for the Setting Sun.”

Turn this up loud enough, and you just might feel Thor’s wrath crushing your mind as bassist Ted Lundström and drummer Fredrik Andersson drive more layers into something already complex. Keep in mind, complex here does not mean messy or confusing. It can, but on “Twilight,” Amon Amarth shows the result of solid song writing, years of studio experience and really good taste in producer Jens Bogren, who mixed their 2006 album, “With Oden On Our Side,” as well as “Ghost Reveries” by fellow Swedes Opeth.

Hammers down, Sweden’s Viking metal overlords have brought new life to Scandinavian death from the epic opening title track right through to the end where Hegg screams “I’m coming home” amidst seemingly emotional despair during the album finale “Embrace of the Endless Ocean.” And from the overall sound of “Twilight of the Thunder God,” indeed, Amon Amarth has found a place to call their own. Now that’s something to embrace.

Highs: Entombed vocalist L.G. Petrov wages a scream off with Johann Hegg on "Guardians of Asgaard."

Lows: Apocalyptica's appearance in “Live for the Kill” is all too brief. Epic, but brief.

Bottom line: While this probably won't make a good Christmas gift for you grandma this year, it should definitely be on your list.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)