Album Review – Amon Amarth “Surtur Rising” 2011

  Surtur Rising kicks off with “War of the Gods”, a punishing gallop through territory Amon Amarth knows very well, and they deliver the goods with polish and ease. As an opener, it also serves as a “Previously On” looking back to previous record Twilight of the Thunder God, which was an exhilarating (and possibly unsustainable) headlong charge. The rest of the album explores different tempos and moods, the tone of these songs having a lot more in common with earlier works With Oden On Our Side or The Fate of Norns. The deeds and passions of gods and men mingle here, and if it is difficult to distinguish between the two that is likely by design.
What Amon Amarth are doing here, exploring the small moments across the battle field of Ragnarök, is the same thing Amorphis have done by returning to the Kalevala for source material: added a mature legitimacy to the enterprise. These are actual Scandinavians recounting the legends and history of their people with an eye to detail that makes Manowar seem like a bunch of bikers who like to LARP. The story is here viewed though the veil of myth, not the fuzzy lens of fantasy, a difference that seems small but allows us to immerse ourselves in a different time and place without projecting MTV-era values onto them.
Speaking of the mainstream, however, my deluxe copy contains bonus covers “Balls to the Wall” and “War Machine”, which AA make their own with aplomb to round out a solid recording. It’s not Thunder God’s runaway freight train full of TNT, but Surtur Rising is great metal by anyone’s standards, and another milestone for the heavy hitters of Team Viking. 8.5 out of 10

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