Deceiver of the Gods
Metal Blade Records/Rocket Distribution
Reviewed By Colin McNamara
The story of Loki (metal version) - a different tale
Those who are familiar with the term Viking metal probably draw a bead on one particular name: Amon Amarth. Formed in 1992, they've traditionally taken the Norse lore and created album after album of crushing, melodic death metal that seems awesome, but when one looks back on it nine albums later, realize that they've been covering the same material over and over just with different lyrics. The earlier albums mostly covered the same topics of blood, war, honor, and death - all the standards of the Viking tradition, and while they suited Amon Amarth's sound quite well, began to start feeling old.
In 2006 Amon Amarth started to develop conceptual albums and it made their work more varied and exciting - 'With Odin on Their Side' was a monumental step that really started to bring the group mainstream attention. The following albums just didn't seem to live up to the sound though as works like 'Surtur Rising' felt somewhat generic in the material subject and sound. Now, with the band's latest album 'Deceiver of the Gods', it seems like they are back on track.
'Deceiver...' brings back the lyrical concept story quality that made 'Odin...' so attractive. This time the focus is on the anti-hero Loki, also known recently from films like Avengers and Thor. Of course, the Loki here is much darker and follows the Norse lore closer, and Amon Amarth does a great job at keeping their music just as dark. It is heavy yet melodic, and rhythmic, though not as rhythmic as the sound on an album like 'Twilight of the Thunder God', which featured one of the most catchy pieces Amon Amarth has ever done entitled "Guardians of Asgaard". Instead of catchy, Amon Amarth tries to go for heavy and crushing when considering a track like "As Loke Falls". Of course, not the entire album is heavy and furious and war driven. One thing Amon Amarth does on the album is include some female backing vocals for atmosphere on "Hel" which makes a world of difference compared to past albums and makes the track monumental, even if it is not very catchy. And the closing "Warriors of the North" is a closing epic that is drawn out and slightly slower, but feels like a great finale for a 'story based album'.
For those who are lucky enough to get the deluxe edition, Amon Amarth include a bonus disc full of cover songs that demonstrate their influences. Groups like Judas Priest, Motorhead, AC/DC, and Black Sabbath are all heard in melodic death metal style, and it actually sounds pretty decent. While some people hate it when classics are 'mangled' by death metal vocals, the instrumental work is spot on and overall the compilation doesn't feel like a copy of Six Feet Under doing covers. It is worth paying the extra money for these four tracks even if it is just for laughs at seeing classic heavy metal being performed in a death metal style; the average fan will find it a worthwhile rarity.