Swedish metal band Amon Amarth are the rare group that seems to only get better over time. Their breakthrough album, 2008’s Twilight of the Thunder God
, and 2011’s Sutur Rising
saw their profile rise as a band capable of melding black metal’s vocals and subject matter, full of ancient Viking battles and mythological creatures, with death metal’s melodic riffery. They seem to have mastered that equation on Deceiver of the Gods
. Johan Hegg’s growl commands the title track like some unearthly godslayer, like something crawling out of the North in Game of Thrones
, while Johan Söderberg and Olavi Mikkonen’s guitars clash and come together for heroic harmonic riffs, Ted Lundström’s bass evokes the volcanic depths and Fredrik Andersson bashes away at hyperspeed, doing Lars Ulrich proud with his double-bass thunder. Amon Amarth’s strength isn’t in extreme technical prowess (though songs like “Under Siege” show they can really play) nor in creating black metal-style sheets of sound, but rather in distilling various strains of metal into a cohesive whole and focusing on memorablility — the finger taps on “As Loke Falls” sound charmingly anachronistic, while the shouted chorus and big riffs of “Father of the Wolf” call to mind metal progenitors like Judas Priest and Black Sabbath. Hegg’s voice comes through clearly on “Blood Eagle,” and the band sounds remarkably assured, coming together for a stunning climax. Like their forefathers, Amon Amarth know metal needn’t be free of hooks in order to still sound tough. Deceiver of the Gods
fulfills years of promise from the band and should please any metal fan who favors songcraft above all else.