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Amon Amarth- Versus The World

Band Homeland- Sweden

Homepage: www.amonamarth.com

Label: www.metalblade.com

(Note- The format on this review is not one I normally do. I rec'd this album as an early release when I was writing for a German webzine, and was requested to do a song-by-song)

Let there be no doubt whatsoever that the Northmen have made a triumphant return, and this time they bring a fury that is nigh unstoppable. Musically, the album is an amazing growth for Amon Amarth (much respect to Fredrick Andersson, his progression on the last 2 albums is amazing) and lyrically it is already without a doubt the heaviest album. Song for song, I am in awe and I can say that the fury contained within the growling vocals of Johan Hegg is pure, and fully deserved by the people he dishes it out to.

Death In Fire
Absolutely THE most brutal musical assault of this album. This song introduces a different singing style for Hegg (which he uses only occasionally on this album, most songs remain in the same style he is known for), and is an excellent vehicle to profile the leaps of talent Andersson has taken in his drumming abilities. The guitar work is decidedly different. While still having that trademark Amon Amarth tone, there is a lot of hammer-on / pull-off styling, and it adds an element not usually found in Amon Amarth. The solos are pure Amon Amarth, Soderburg and Mikkonen have not lost anything at all. The bass lines by Lundstrom are deep and crushing. This is the crown jewel of this album.

For The Stabwounds In Our Backs
The introduction is slower, and has an atmosphere not normally attributed to Amon Amarth. The meat of the song absolutely explodes, and reminds me of efforts that would appear on OSFTGH. This is truly an Amon Amarth song. The drumming and guitar work change in the song, there is a solid mix of the “old” and “new” Amon Amarth. The guitar work has the same tone, but is very different... perhaps the combo of the drumming and the guitar changeup is why it stands out so much to me.

Where Silent Gods Stand Guard
This is very different. I mean very. It’s hard to describe. It does not sound like Amon Amarth at all until almost ½ way into the song. The guitar work is just so alien, the tempo is much slower, and in parts this strikes me more as a progressive rock song. But do not mistake me to be saying this is a bad thing. It is not at all. If anything, this shows the true depth and complexity that Amon Amarth can achieve, and it also shows that they have no fear of trying something new while still maintaining their integrity. The song is catchy and I like it a lot, but not in the way I would like an Amon Amarth song, if you can understand that. If not, listen to the song and find out for yourself.

Versus The World
Again, an introduction that is a departure from the Amon Amarth I have known over the years, but the follow-up is an amazing and crushing explosion of the Metal that secured Amon Amarth as my most favored band of all time. If raw power could be heard, it would sound a lot like Versus The World. Not fast, not blasting loud, just depth and weight of incredible power.

Across The Rainbow Bridge
This song was the most shocking for me on this album. Honestly, the introduction doesn't sound anything like Amon Amarth and if I had heard it apart from this album I would not have picked out that “should be trademarked” Amon Amarth sound. I expected it to roll into something constantly heavy, but I was amazed. This is possibly the closest Amon Amarth will ever get to a ballad. It took a few listens to stop doing a double take, but once I got past my surprise, I found myself liking this a lot. An excellent example of what I meant by this album has shown some growth for Amon Amarth musically, and they do so without fear. I respect that.

Down The Slopes Of Death
This is the song that gives “Death In Fire” A hard run for being the heaviest and most brutal song on this album. My opinion, “Death In Fire” edges out a narrow victory, but that does not mean “Down The Slopes Of Death” is lacking in any way whatsoever! Aggressive is hardly the word for this song. Not in the sense of brutal speed, but brutal heaviness. The bass solo by Lundstrom was an excellent touch, and totally added to the overall impression of the sheer weight of this song. I’m just basking in the glory that is Amon Amarth as I listen to this song again…

Thousand Years Of Oppression
Very heavy introduction, slow rhythm and punishing drumming, all making a very solid offering. But it is not the music that grabbed me nearly as hard as the lyrics. In all the other songs, I liked and identified with the lyrics, but this song just hit me so very hard that I replayed this at least 5 times in a row after the first time I heard it. Musically, this song has another “first” for Amon Amarth… spoken lyrics by Hegg. It is a short piece, but it is undeniable, and it captures your attention and makes you pay attention. As well you should, as the lyrics are meaningful.

The introduction is a very heavy and melodic guitar and drum driven attack, and the vocals come in to deliver the killing blow. I know that I have overused the words “powerful” and “heavy”, but that is exactly what I mean to say! Bloodshed is another song that elicits those words from my vocabulary. Other overused words would be “amazing” and “incredible”. Musically and vocally, this song simple crushes, and even has great sing-along potential for live shows (I can so totally see an entire crowd screaming “BLOOD-SHED!” in the chorus. I hope to be one of those people, in fact!)

And Soon The World Will Cease To Be
The introduction is slow and creates a feeling of anticipation, you know it is going to launch into an assault, but Amon Amarth carries it out an extra measure past where I thought it would detonate, and the buildup is incredible. The wait is well worth it (“wait” being in relative terms to other Amon Amarth songs). Again, it’s not so much the speed or the technical musical mastery that creates the atmosphere of pure power for me, but the combination of EVERYthing. The short solos, the vocal styling, the deep bass tones, the incredible drumming… I’m at a loss to say more than I have. ALL HAIL AMON AMARTH!

Death In Fire
For The Stabwounds In Our Backs
Where The Silent Gods Stand Guard
Versus The World
Across The Rainbow Bridge
Down The Slopes Of Death
A Thousand Years Of Oppression
…And Soon The World Will Cease To Be