War. Fire. Vikings. Odin. Blood soaked steel. Warring Gods. Ravens. These are the images Amon Amarth works with, and on Surtur Rising they do some of their best work to date. Surtur is the name of the leader of the fire giants of Muspelheim, or Muspell, which means land of flame. This is the story of his ascendency. If you are familiar with Amon Amarth, let me say right off the bat stop reading and go get a copy; and for those of you who are curious, this is the best death metal with a Viking theme that you will ever find. Surtur Rising is Amon Amarth at the top of their game. Johan Hegg recently said that they prefer not to be called Viking metal as that term implies black metal, and they have a point there, but if anyone deserves to be associated with the word Viking it’s Amon Amarth.
Surtur Rising starts out strong and stays that way throughout. If you don’t want to die in glorious battle by the end of this album there is something wrong with you. Johan Hegg is at his best vocally and his low growls and higher vocals deliver the story-like lyrics with the usual ass kicking Amon Amarth fans have come to expect. Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg seem to have actually gotten a little heavier on Surtur Rising, which works well with the theme and overall. The melodic guitars are there and create a dark atmosphere that fits the lyrics. Fredrik Andersson on drums is one of the greats in terms of knowing when to let loose and when to carry the momentum of the song. Destroyer of the Universe is a good example of the guitars and drums working perfectly to tell a story and demonstrates the ebb and flow of great songwriting. Ted Lundström does a decent job on bass, but aside from some of the ride parts it can be difficult to tell what he’s doing unless you really try to pick it out.
There are no weak tracks on Surtur Rising, from the opener War of the Gods to the closer Doom Over Dead Man Surtur Rising keep the axes swinging and the blood flowing from start to finish. The limited edition has some extra tracks which this copy did not include, and there is also a box set edition set for the same release date. Amon Amarth are able to create huge epic songs without getting boring, a risk when you pick a specific theme to take your direction from. Lyrically there are some interesting additions. Songs like Slaves of Fear could be speaking of modern times actually.
“They nurture prejudice and hate
Condemn the wars that they create
In the name of whatever god
They gladly sacrifice your lives
Increasing power is their prize
Without regrets they’ll spill your blood…”
Those lines could apply to any modern government. Surtur Rising returns to the land of the Norsemen after that however, telling the rest of the story of Surtur.
Overall Surtur Rising is a very worthy successor to Twilight of the Thunder God, which was a huge album for Amon Amarth. If you’re a fan you will not be disappointed and if you’re not yet, you probably will be at the end of this album.
1.War Of The Gods
2.Töck’s Taunt – Loke’s Treachery Part II
3.Destroyer Of The Universe
4.Slaves Of Fear
5.Live Without Regrets
6.The Last Stand Of Frej
7.For Victory Or Death
8.Wrath Of The Norsemen
9.A Beast Am I
10.Doom Over Dead Man