Track By Track   

New Amon Amarth Album: Track-by-Track

By the end of March, Amon Amarth will release their eighth album, Surtur Rising. Last Friday, the French press was able to discover this album track by track, and we’ll be sharing our impressions. Johan Hegg (vocals) and guitarist Olavi Mikkonen had just arrived in Paris that morning, coming from Amsterdam where they held an exclusive promotional even in Benelux. In the charming Swedish Institute, we listened to the whole album Surtur Rising before asking a few questions to Johan for an interview that will be online on our site in a few weeks.

Tracklisting of Surtur Rising:

1. War Of The Gods
2. Töck’s Taunt – Loke’s Treachery Part II
3. Destroyer Of The Universe
4. Slaves Of Fear
5. Live Without Regrets
6. The Last Stand Of Frej
7. For Victory Or Death
8. Wrath Of The Norsemen
9. A Beast Am I
10. Doom Over Dead Man

1. War Of The Gods

Amon Amarth are not the type of band to bother themselves with frills: these guys don’t exactly dig lengthy introductions announcing the overall theme and orientation of the album. This opening title (which has already been available on Internet for a few weeks now) starts in a rather straightforward way, with an extremely catchy riff that will no doubt provoke a few mosh pits. “War Of The Gods” perfectly sums up the direction Amon Amarth have taken these past year and acts as an ideal transition between Twilight Of The Thunder God and this new record. A great hors d’oeuvre, at the end of which the listener will probably have already decided whether they’re going to like the album or not.

2. Töck’s Taunt – Loke’s Treachery Part II

The sequel to “Hermod’s Ride To Hel”, from the 2006 album With Oden On Our Side, “Töck’s Taunt” is a more aggressive, though slower song than the last. The guitars sound dark and threatening, up until a relatively calm, Viking-inspired solo contrasting sharply with the overall atmosphere. A good sequel to the 2006 Part I, although the two parts boast distinctly different atmospheres. It would be interesting to hear the two songs played one after the other on stage.

“L’Institut suédois”, in Paris

3. Destroyer Of The Universe

By contrast, the extreme aggressively of this title track (the destroyer of the universe is none other than Surtur) is striking. There will be some serious neck-crushing in the pit! The first thing one notices is the omnipresence of drums, humming like a continuous, noisy bourdon that even manages to drown Johan’s angry growls at times. In the midst of this decibel apocalypse, the über-melodic, heavy metal-sounding guitar solo clashes just a little, but it remains surprising in a positive way. Overall, this track gives an impression of “organized chaos” that fits the theme of the song beautifully: though apocalyptic, the fight between Surtur and the hero Frej will only have one outcome…

4. Slaves Of Fear

This track opens with Fredrik Andersson (drums) banging his drumsticks together, but this time, the drums are less put forward, and the vocals much more present. After the chaos that was “Destroyer Of The Universe”, this song exudes a feeling of space and calm (relatively speaking, but still). The overall atmosphere is much less aggressive, and the riffs are less accessible. The song seems to be have been placed here strategically, in order to allow the listener to find their breath and let their already damaged neck recover a bit.

Johan and Saff

5. Live Without Regrets

Some songs allow you to identify a band’s hand in a heartbeat. “Live Without Regrets” is one of those: catchy riff, chiseled melody, growls coming straight from the depths of Muspellheim… This song embodies everything we love about Amon Amarth. The composition evokes some titles from Twilight Of The Thunder God and illustrates just what the band tried to do with this album: reuse the elements that made TOTG such a successful album and taking them to new extremes. The formula works perfectly and “Live Without Regrets” is proof of it.

6. The Last Stand Of Frej

According to Johan, whom we had the opportunity to interview after this listening session, “The Last Stand Of Frej” is the counterpart of “Destroyer Of The Universe”: if the latter told the epic fight between Surtur and Frej from the point of view of the god of apocalypse, the former is seen through the eyes of the mythological hero. Therefore, it’s not surprising that this song should be as close to a ballad as possible (after all, the battle didn’t end well for Frej). The rhythm is slow and slightly oppressive, and the guitar solo sounds a bit like a melancholic rock song. The tempo speeds up near the end, as if to underline the sad outcome of the battle and the death of the hero. But really, standing up against Surtur himself when you’ve lost your magical sword is really not all that smart…

Nice place

7. For Victory Or Death

This band just can’t be too slow for too long: “For Victory Or Death” brings in another roung of mosh pits and neck-breaking. It’s the second time this afternoon Amon Amarth offer us straight-from-Walhalla Viking metal. This track seems to define the very essence of the band, without ever lapsing into self-caricature. An excellent song to make non-converts discover the Amon Amarth we love.

8. Wrath Of The Norsemen

The Norsemen are unhappy, and since it’s Johan’s duty to get the message across, the growls on this title are particularly impressive. It all starts with some muffled notes on guitar, a slower tempo and a rather unusual solo for an Amon Amarth album, only to culminate on a gut-wrenching “Somebody save me/No one can save me” that leaves the listener as empty of energy as if they’d just run a marathon. The abrupt ending will leave you wanting you: there must be more, it can’t end like this! The next song had better compensate such intense frustration!

Doc became a “paparazzi” for you

9. A Beast Am I

According to Johan again, “A Beast Am I” is one of the most aggressive songs in the band’s entire career. One of the most aggressive, maybe – one of the freakin’ greatest, unquestionably! The hostilities start with a scream from Johan, the guitars move forward one creepy semitone at a time, the bass drum goes on a military march, the vocals are delivered as if with a submachine gun… Some songs can provoke physical reactions in the listener, followed by a thought coming from God knows where. In this case, you’ll feel your breath catch in your lungs, and hear a part of your brain scream: “Dude, that’s fuckin’ brilliant!” Oh yeah, these guys are beasts all right!

10. Doom Over Dead Man

There’s kind of a “let’s play guitar around a campfire” atmosphere on the intro of this grand finale. The overture is extremely slow, with an even stronger melodic side than usual. The Swedes even went as far as using a synthesizer (for lack of actual violins, that would have felt slightly less out of place in such a composition) to underline the grandiose, almost orchestral aspect of this last song. After a short silence, we’re back to heavy guitars and heading towards a climax that screams “end of the record” from a goodly distance. The Viking war machine moves away smoothly, decrescendo, before stopping completely. It’s precisely the moment Johan and Olavi Mikkonen (guitars) choose to slip into the room and reap the fruits of their labor in the form of a warm applause from happy listeners. Best timing ever, guys.

History in french!

Verdict :

The media were expecting this Surtur Rising with about as much impatience as the fans. The question was whether Amon Amarth was going to deliver as good an album as the fantastic Twilight Of The Thunder God, which was unusually crammed with hits. The answer is simple – it’s a yes! The particularly careful production leaves nothing to chance, and there’s quality to spare in these compositions. This album is also more contrasted, more bombastic and more brutal than its predecessor. In short, an excellent sequel, which is cause for rejoicing. However, here’s to hoping the band won’t fall into a kind of routine. Two albums in the same vein? That’s just fine. Three? Not so much…

Art and metal

Report: Saff
Pics: Doc
Amon Amarth website:

This post is also available in: French

Leave a Reply

  • Friday, 23 September 2016 à 4:32
    Therion against the tide
    Wednesday, 10 August 2016 à 11:25
    Tarja has moved on
    Monday, 1 August 2016 à 23:22
    Gojira: Joe Duplantier answers your questions
    Friday, 8 July 2016 à 4:28
    Final fireworks for Avantasia
    Saturday, 2 July 2016 à 11:06
    Johanna Sadonis makes a pact with Lucifer
    Monday, 6 June 2016 à 20:56
    Friday, 3 June 2016 à 10:17
    Sunday, 1 May 2016 à 21:07
    Jorn Lande: a nomad in metal land
    Tuesday, 26 April 2016 à 19:42
    Brian “Head” Welch (Korn): God and Metal