The Nordic Vikings, Amon Amarth, return with the pounding yet slightly more accessible Fate of Norns, a heavy yet more streamlined release for this veteran band. With glorious lyrics dealing with, you guessed it, Vikings, Amon Amarth conjure enough images of fantasy to please the Lord of the Rings crowd, and the music is brutal enough for the death & black metal legions. Songs like the epic "An Ancient Sign Of Coming Storm" contains plenty of furious guitar riffs and manic rhythms, while the vocals of Johan Hegg crash through the parting seas with a deafening gutteral roar. You can just picture him with a microphone in one hand, a sword in the other (or leg of mutton, depending on the time of day). Some of the tunes have an early 80's thrash/speed metal feel, like the rampaging title track, or the Motorhead groove of "The Pursuit of Vikings", while the behemoth drum sounds of "Valkyries Ride" place the song squarely in modern extreme metal.
One thing I find with the music of Amon Amarth is that it is fairly one dimensional. Even though the guitar work on Fate of Norns is well played and melodic (especially the wonderful harmony work on "Arson") , each song tends to follow similar patterns, and Hegg's vocals could use a little more variety. Still, if you like that full-speed ahead brutality that is Viking Metal, Amon Amarth is one of the better bands currently entertaining the masses. Those new to the band might be best served checking out their slightly more ambitious earlier material and work their way forward. This though is still a solid release from the Norseman-all hail!
1. An Ancient Sign Of Coming Storm
2. Where Death Seems To Dwell
3. The Fate Of Norns
4. The Pursuit Of Vikings
5. Valkyries Ride
6. The Beheading Of A King
8. Once Sealed In Blood