• Amon Amarth- Surtur Rising (2011)

     

    I will skip the long introduction as any metal head already knows Amon Amarth and might have his or her own opinion about it. Let's get this straight: I think that the image and style of the band is rather silly and closed minded but I liked some of their past albums. I have now listened to the new album several times and to facilitate my review, I decided to divide it into ten points.

    1.) Package: The first thing you can analyze when you buy a disc is the package and the relation between the offered material and the prize. This point is maybe the strongest one of the album. For a good price you don't only get ten new songs but also a bonus DVD that features 33 (!) live songs from four different concerts. That's a lot of material and might attract old and new fans and guarantee many hours of metal entertainment. The limited edition offers a nice statue and two bonus tracks and there is also a third bonus song for the Ap(pl)e generation. That's way more than other bands would do.

    My verdict here: 10/10

    2.) Production: The production is generally well done but I miss some edges and some energy that would rate this album up and make it heavier. The sound is not bad but not quite outstanding and it lacks of a soul and atmosphere because I think the sound is somewhat neutral and emotionless.
    My verdict here: 5/10

    3.) Expectations: Does this album offer what it pretends? It surely does and anybody that listens to Amon Amarth knows what he might get delivered - rather slow paced melodic death metal. But there is a little problem about it. The band always pretends to refer to the Viking history and Norse mythology. Concerning the lyrics, that might be true, but the image of the band is filled with ridiculous stereotypes of grim and brutal Vikings and the music has no mythological, historic or epic touch at all. There is nothing epic about the songs, they are sharp, short and sweet and the band could also sing about anything else and it would fit to the same kind of music.

    My verdict here: 5/10

    4.) Innovation: The band offers nothing new in here, the album is just another typical Amon Amarth album and it doesn't seem as if the band would have had a certain artistically goal or intention concerning the record. If one has one of the older records of the band and is not a fan boy, there is no reason to buy the new stuff. The older albums often varied more and something special from time to time which isn't the case in here.

    My verdict here: 0/10

    5.) Fan base: The next point is connected to the previous one. Even though the band isn't innovating at all and more conservative and closed minded as their Viking ancestors, this album might please to the old fan base. If you like the general style of Amon Amarth, you might also like this album. But it won't mostly be amongst your favourite record of the band on the other hand.

    My verdict here: 5/10

    6.) Catchiness: If the songs are not innovating or surprising are they at least catchy? Are there great choruses, tons of sharp riffs and catchy melodies? Not at all, not a single chorus or melody stays on my mind after several tries. The riffs are sharp but sound very much like the previous stuff. The songs are all quite repeating the same style and not one single track stands out.

    My verdict here: 0/10

    7.) Strength: If the songs are neither catchy nor innovating, do they at least have a lot of power and energy? As I said, there is a lack of emotion and atmosphere on the album and I must admit that the guitar riffs sound used and that the vocal range quite limited and bored. The clinical production doesn't save this point either. But as there is no true epic song or even ballad on the album, the songs are mostly straight forward and there are at least some good guitar solos from time to time that show that the band has got some talent.

    My verdict here: 5/10

    8.) Lifetime: What is the lifetime of the album? Will this record be a classic in a few years? Is this a visionary album? Is this an album that takes some time to grow and when it ultimately grows, it will be a great record? No, this is really just one of many Amon Amarth records and I think that it might be considered as one of their less impressive records and filler albums in the near future. The album is not visionary; it is boring, conservative and dumb. This album may be of interest until the concerts and next release for the tough fan base but that's all.

    My verdict here: 0/10

    9.) Touring: Sometimes, there is the phenomenon that songs don't work quite well on a record but much better during the live concerts. I think that the songs from "Surtur rising" may sound less clinical and straighter in front of a crowd. The sharp riffs and especially the guitar solos may sound more natural and energizing. But there are no songs like the live classics "Victorious march", "The pursuit of Vikings" or "Death in fire" on this record. The songs may be better but not exceptional.

    My verdict here: 5/10

    10.) Concurrence: I compared the new record to the old works of the band, but one must also do a comparison to other bands of the same genre. I must admit that must of the so called Viking metal bands such as Ensiferum or Tyr sound more authentic, epic and progressive than Amon Amarth. If we compare this album to the big classics of bands such as Bathory, the record fails even more. At least, it mostly sounds better and more convincing like many new hyped bands of the genre such as Swashbuckle or at some points Alestorm. If we compare the album to the releases of other melodic death metal bands, Amon Amarth easily beat the overrated posers of Children of Bodom but bands such as In Flames lately proved that they can innovate and look beyond the frontiers of a single genre which Amon Amarth clearly don't do.

    My verdict here: 5/10

    In the end, all those aspects lead to a final rating of forty weak points. This album might only please to the solid fan base of the band or people that simply want to bang their heads during the next concerts. Concerning the aspects of atmosphere, innovation and catchiness, the band completely fails. With their poser attitude of grim Vikings in the band photos and a cover that has the same level of intelligence and innovation as the covers of the Manowar albums, this popular and overrated band is one of the reasons why people that are not that much into metal often have a bad idea and negatively wrong impression of the whole musical culture. Most metal heads don't care but I have experienced several times that many people I know associate the term "metal" to superficial music like this and miss out some progressive, symphonic or power metal acts that they might actually like. Only modern gore and core music, nasty poser bands and extreme black metal sickness are worse than this stuff. Don't get me wrong, I personally like harder metal genres and listen to a lot of Gothic, Viking and Thrash Metal and even to some atmospheric Black and Death stuff from time to time, but this here is completely ass and a good example for a dumb and uninspiring hype band. This band wants to represent a "true" Viking style but the truth is that those hard guys are completely silly and the music sucks from an objective point of view. The progression and somewhat interesting aspects of the last two records of the band (which I liked and which convinced me to give them a chance for this one) seem to be erased with this downfall.

    My final verdict: Don't believe the hype and try out other metal genres or other bands of the same genre. If you happen to like the band or if you want to discover them, I would rather suggest you to try out "Once sent from the golden hall" or the more recent “With Oden on our side”- they had much more diversity and atmosphere and have the rights and reasons to be considered as classics or at least strong albums. I would give at least the double of the points I gave to this new record to them.

    Or to finish my review with a few words for the German fans to describe this new record briefly: “Amon Amarth = Am Arsch".

     

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