AMON AMARTH - Surtur Rising CD
Metal Blade Records
Genre: Death/Viking Metal
For those of you not into Norse mythology, yeah I'm sure there's one or two out there, Surtur (the big guy on the cover with the flaming sword) is the leader of the fire giants in the south side of Asgard. He's the ruler of Muspelheim otherwise known as the realm of fire. Something else of importance (or irony?) is that at the end of the world, which is Ragnarok, his hordes will rush north like a badass southern wind to overwhelm the gods. Well that's good to know because someone needs to save this band after releasing this turd. Hey now don't get me wrong. I'm a big fan of AMON AMARTH, bigger than you poser. With Oden on our Side is probably my favorite AMON AMARTH release, it's the band's best release all time followed closely by Twilight of the Thunder God. That latter one had some killer cover artwork that matched the music within. Surtur Rising has surpassed the cover artwork battle but musically it's a step down.
Opener "War of the Gods" starts out decent enough but slowly reverts into sounding Power Metal instead of their past aggressive sounding melodic death metal style. The guitars from Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Soderberg almost sound like keyboards plus there's no bass whatsoever. It's as if this band's former berserk sound has been watered down to appease the pussies who hate Viking Battle Metal. As the release continues along it simply gets worse. "Töck's Taunt" (Loke's Treachery Part II), which is a poor sequel to “Hermod's Ride To Hel" (Lokes Treachery Part 1) from With Oden on our Side, is fairly epic in nature with some decent extended soloing but the meaty riffs are soy meat. Johan Hegg's vocals are ahead of the overall sound on here. At times, like on "Slaves of Fear", he sounds like he's fronting a pop metal band. Other cuts like "Destroyer of the Universe" and "Live Without Regrets" are generic bores where as "The Last Stand of Frej", with Hegg's deepest growl vocal, had promise of great Viking Doom but turned into a wuss fest of watered down melo-death drivel.
As the release continues on it just doesn't get any better. "For Victory or Death" made me bow my head in shame and "Wrath of the Norsemen" sounds like it was stolen from a goth band. There's background symphonic keyboards on the final track so I won't go on any further. OK I will and it's their inclusion of a SYSTEM OF DOWN cover "Aerials" as a bonus track. There's another version of this release that contains two other covers, KISS's "War Machine" and ACCEPT's "Balls to the Wall". It figures I'd get the review edition which should have been labeled "for pussies who like their music watered down for easy swallowing". The greatness of this band's previous works consisted of catchy riffs with melodies that still hefted enough aggressiveness that you wanna break shit up to. All of that is gone from Surtur Rising. It's over produced theme music for the plastic Halloween helmet crowd.