Amon Amarth - Fate of Norns
Metal Blade
Viking Metal
8 songs (39:44)
Release year: 2004
Amon Amarth, Metal Blade
Reviewed by Jay
Album of the month

In 2002, Amon Amarth proved that they were the undisputed kings of Viking style death metal. Versus the World was a landmark album for them in their use of epic guitars and chants evoking the ancient cries of Vikings in search of Vinnland. They craft their music exquisitely, not having to rely on blast beats, cheesy vocals or unholy speed to capture their listener. Their song structure and chord progression is simply unparalleled. This is why their latest release Fate of Norns is a fitting addition to their catalogue and to the death metal universe.

Unlike Versus the World, it concentrates significantly more on down tempo songs and the atmosphere they can create. This is not to say that the album is without speed at times but overall the theme is a much slower one. They concentrate on their accented drawn out melodies echoing through the crux of their music. Tracks like "Arson" and "Where Death Seems to Dwell" are perfect examples of this. While some people will call this repetitive, their eerie quality always gets me going. I am quite impressed with the precision in which guitarists Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg carry out their metal attack. While not all that varied from previous albums, they sound more synchronized than ever. The solo on "Arson" is truly a work of beauty. It peaks and valleys just as a good solo should adding accents and emphasis in all the right places. Truly a majestic beauty of a melodic solo.

Which brings me to my next point, the sound. Originally, I was under-impressed by the sound quality of the recording. Certain tracks had virtually no low end and the vocals got lost in the mix. Right after we received the promo, Metal Blade sent out an email informing us that the promo we had was indeed a rough mix of the album and that the final mix would be much more bombastic and ferocious. It delighted me since that was my sole complaint the sub par attributes of several of the songs.

One of my favorite songs is "Beheading of a King." The drumming Fredrik Andersson pounds out is a shining point of the album. He comes up with a bouncing pattern that propels this song. While the guitars rock and Johan roars, he just keeps things in time and rolling along with the assault of his feet. Speaking of Johan, I think he turns in his best vocal performance yet. He takes his entire brooding deep end that was on display in Versus the World and brings back the screechy high end he had perfected on The Avenger. The balance of growls to screeches is quite enjoyable and suits their music well. Johan Hegg certainly makes Amon Amarth what it is. There are few vocalists as strong in their delivery and as recognizable in their ability to kick ass behind the microphone. Nowhere is this better shown than on the title track itself. The mid-tempo riff-fest almost makes you understand how the three Norns sitting at the root of Yggdrasil are controlling every aspect of my life.

The album does have its up-tempo aggressive moments as well and they are played out no better than by the opening track "An Ancient Sign of Coming Storm" as well as "The Valkyries’ Ride." Both songs blow me away with a sense of rage and force that only a band with a name that translates as Mount Doom could. The latter has Johan growling in a primal way similar almost to Glenn Benton. The track has a truly ominous and scary tone to it and gives the impression that the Valkyries should not be trifled with. The opener is classic Amon Amarth. Grinding vocals against the strong and frenetic riffing powers the song into the coming storm that awaits according to the ancients. It is quite possible one of my favorite tracks by this band ever and is certain to become a fan favorite, live favorite and moshpit anthem.

Amon Amarth have done it again. A masterfully crafted and sewn album from Sweden’s masters of Viking music. The final album will also include a DVD of their recent performance in Iceland and you know that show must have owned. This is certainly going to be in my top ten for the year and quite possibly my top five. Further proof that metal is not dead, once again served up hot and steaming by Amon Amarth. I just wish someone had told them that a CD can hold 80 minutes of music!

Killing Songs :
An Ancient Sign of Coming Storm, Fate of Norns, The Valkyries Ride, Beheading of a King, Once Sealed in Blood
Jay quoted 93 / 100
Alex quoted 95 / 100
Other albums by Amon Amarth that we have reviewed:
Amon Amarth - Jomsviking reviewed by Andy and quoted 84 / 100
Amon Amarth - Deceiver of the Gods reviewed by Jared and quoted 90 / 100
Amon Amarth - Surtur Rising reviewed by Kyle and quoted 82 / 100
Amon Amarth - The Avenger reviewed by Thomas and quoted 77 / 100
Amon Amarth - Twilight Of The Thunder God reviewed by Storm and quoted 96 / 100
To see all 10 reviews click here
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