AMON AMARTH... A name like thunder... One EP ("Sorrow Throughout The Nine Worlds"), three complete CDs ("Once Sent From The Golden Hall", "The Avenger", "The Crusher")... All of them outstanding in the realm of Death Metal… Now… "Versus The World", the fourth effort by the Viking warriors…
And what should I say? They again have managed to go through a certain evolution, close enough to their roots to still be 100 per cent AMON AMARTH, on the other side far enough not to be accused of copying themselves. What strikes at the very beginning is the fact that Johan Hegg growls deeper than ever before, you still can (mostly) understand what he is spitting forth, but still, it is distinctly deeper.
Another change can be heard in some of the guitars. No, do not fear, they have not gone IN FLAMES on us or anything else, but the lead-guitars' melodies sometimes sound a little lighter. Hm, bad phrasing, I do not mean softer, but brighter. No, not the right one either… Aaargh, they sound a little different, but still great. Yes, that could be the least bad description I guess. But apart from that, we'll get all the assets that have made AMON AMARTH such a mighty force in the past, making them still stand tall and proud amidst the broiling masses of clones that try to assimilate the current flavour of the day.
The name of AMON AMARTH ever since their beginnings stands for heaviness, mighty, pounding compositions that make you imagine the Viking warriors on their dragon ships, fighting against intruders or being out on a pillage tour; stands for grand melodies, lines, no, arches of great melodies that intertwine with the powerful and crushing rhythm-guitars, forming an all-encompassing machine, towering over you, shadowing everything in its monumental size; stands for a forceful sound that definitely can blow you against the wall and hold you there with ease.
The opener "Death In Fire", which some of you might already know from the Metal Blade website, is a prime example for almost everything that AMON AMARTH stand for, a driving rhythm section with great double-bass-work (that is one point that I love so much about these Swedes :), crushing rhythm guitars, a lead guitar that sets free such great melodies and Hegg's despite singing deeper, still trademark voice. And a sinister sounding start as for "For The Stabwounds In Our Backs", with a bell and haunting melodies, before it turns into a driving, straight forward AMON AMARTH-track, shows the diversity of these folks.
And also the rest of the material, one great tune after the other, "Where Silent Gods Stand Guard" is a slow-paced track, which draws its power from the mighty, pounding sounds, while the title-track is one of the best AMON AMARTH-songs of all time, very varied in tempo and intensity, with a brilliant riff, typically AMON AMARTH, great! "Across The Rainbow Bridge" comes along surprisingly sluggish, whereas "Down The Slopes Of Death" is a thundering steam-roller that will ram you into the earth in a blink of the eye!
"Thousand Years Of Oppression" offers us the whole spectrum of speeds, incredible powerful and mighty, great track, while "Bloodshed" lives off its dark, brooding atmosphere, without losing a iota of the power, before "…And Soon The World Will Cease To Be" takes down the tempo again.
So you see, AMON AMARTH seem to be incapable of doing a weak album and with their trademarks they not only managed to create another high quality masterpiece, but they definitely also have their own sound within the much crowded Death Metal-scene, as the title implies, these five Swedes take on the world and trust me, with an album like "Versus The World", the odds are damn good that they will conquer it! (Online October 23, 2002)