Over their 21-year career, Amon Amarth have established themselves as a band one expects no surprises from, for better or for worse. Nine albums on, the Viking veterans have established themselves as a unit that reliably delivers quality releases, each only finely tweaking the formula of its predecessor. And following the trend, Sutur Rising, their ninth studio album delivers the goods and lacks little in that capacity. From vocalist Johan Hegg’s stentorian roar, the beer-swilling fun, sing-along choruses to the pummeling drum work, it’s all here. The riffs are catchy and crushing as ever, and Jens Bogren’s mix is equal parts punchy and atmospheric, yet again.
Where Surtur falls, is that it’s ultimately all been done before in the band’s previous releases, and with greater effect. By the end of the album, a feeling of novelty worn thin weighs heavy on the record’s final impact. That said, there are several sections that offer glimpses of fresh dynamics, like the wistfully mellow mid-section of ‘Tock’s Taunt – Loke’s Treachery Part II,’ or ‘Doom Over Dead Man,’ that sees synth accents blended deftly to conjure a fantastically melodic, atmospheric dirge.
It’s difficult to find severe fault with Surtur, and there are definitely several worthy cuts here destined to become live favourites, like the brooding ‘The Last Stand of Frej.’ A bit more variety in the band’s stylistic vocabulary would probably have helped this album be a more standout, remarkable listen. Even so, the flashes of brilliance peering through these now recycled, yet tried and true ideas should be enough to satisfy any Amon Amarth fan looking for their signature consistency. And with the sheer enjoyability of the material on offer here, perhaps that’s just the prescription.
Key tracks: ‘The Last Stand of Frej’,Â ‘Doom Over Dead Man’