After a brief introductory melody announcing their arrival, Deceiver of the Gods crashes down as vibrant crackling lightning. “Deceiver of the Gods” aggressive tempo drops into a chunky fan participation beat while Loki proclaims his dominance,
“…Kneel! You all shall kneel to me! Or death shall set you free! Fall! You all shall fall to me! Vengeance will be sweet!…”
Immediately the song is lead into a dramatic contemplative solo full of glorious harmonizing, which should prove to be a wonderful opportunity for photographers at live events. Then, the fury behind Loki’s triumphant return vanishes into the twilight of the original introduction melody. Like the eye of a town-demolishing tornado, listeners are sucked into a false safety of the end before being ripped off the ground as the thrash riff encompasses and skyjacks the duration.
That’s when the album begins a decent into a meat and bones style that is “simplistic sounding” with sporadic creative flare. It renders the album lacking of the hidden special Nordic ingredient behind Versus the World, Fate of Norns, With Oden on Our Side, and Twilight of the Thunder God, which created a listener’s dire thirst for second and third helpings like the man-made toxicity in foods such as MSG, gliadin, aspartame, and high-fructose corn syrup.
Not to fear, Amon Amarth’s invariability begins to chip away here and there, ironically starting in the song “Shape Shifter”. As a sculptor would gradually shape his medium, the listener is introduced to a darker banger of a riff, which impeccably shifts to a lighter, wailing, and endurance-testing riff. Revealing another level, Amon Amarth evolves this into a drawn out, epic starlight before shuffling into a short harmonizing strike. The song interestingly, even has a warning within the main message of Johan Hegg’s authoritative roar,
“…I am the eagle in the sky, the shape shifter, vicious wolf, howling in the night, the shape shifter, I am the walker on the wind, the shape shifter, two-faced words, and a lying grin…”
Be wary, evil exists hidden among us, lying in plain sight of day, waiting and dressing in many celebrated masks of temptation.
Deceiver of the Gods continues to carve out details with “Under Siege”, a galloper of a song about taking evil head on in a fight until the very last breath, instead of submitting in cowardice. As the song finishes with a clean picked tune offset by a scaling bass line, it becomes clear that choosing to die for a cause and honor ensures immortality in stories,
“…supplies are running low, starvation now awaits, reinforcements never showed, as the daylight starts to fade, there’s nothing left to lose, we have run out of time, there is nothing left to choose, expect how we shall die…all the world shall know our bravery…let’s charge for death or victory!”
The next rousing song to snag attention (aside from the controversial vocal debacle of “Hel”…I am not touching that one) is “Coming of the Tide”. Evolving from a thrash beginning with a decorative guitar break, to a chunky interlude, Amon Amarth injects a lengthy electric solo with harmonizing on the back end. Lyrically speaking, soldiers are racing to the aid of the people in “Under Siege”, only to arrive to corpses and ruins, realizing there is one course of action. They must continue on their ride, however this time,
“…vengeance is, our newfound path, we draw our strength, from grief and pain, these bastards shall know, our endless wrath, see the black crows circle high, waiting for brave men to die, they sense the coming of the tide…”
“Warriors of the North” starts as if it might be a spacey, out of this world track, but the concealing drape is pulled back. We receive an excessively long and rather boring way to conclude a story or album, in a slow play out, much like a warrior’s lullaby. Mid way, the listener is treated to a brief moment of creativity, before sinking back into the monotonous main riff like the fabled stories of quicksand engulfing unsuspecting trespassers after a single step.
The vocabulary and descriptive imagery are lacking in these Viking themed lyrics, although not necessarily needed, it would have given a chance to share deeper insight and create a greater connection between the performer and crowd. However, the information is spot on, allowing songs to read like laconic chapters in a short story. There is a whole lot right with this new album, but also some negatives in this 80’s-heavy, straight forward, ninth, studio album.
“Deceiver of the Gods”