Estimated reading time: 5 minute(s)
Ok, BoW this week, the mighty Amon Amarth! I band I’ve enjoyed quite a bit from the last few albums, but with no familiarity of their early stuff. So here we go! 1998’s OSftGH.From track one, it is clear that this is a band that came out of the gate nearly fully formed, like Athena from Zeus’s head (sorry, wrong mythology!) with most of their stylistic elements in evidence.
It’s all here: naturally the Viking tales, strewn with battles, loss, death, and more battles; the tremolo picked minor key melodies, double bass drumming (pulled off with reckless abandon by future Opeth drummer Martin Lopez, who showcases some occasional jazzy footwork, but mostly sounds like he’s drumming for his life from start to finish!). While I’m not as well versed in this era of Scandinavian metal as a JaPaBo, to me the combination of death and power metal elements set them apart from even some of the other melodic death proponents, e.g. Dark Tranquillity.
Interestingly, one aspect that is a little bit shaky at times is the vocal stylings of the mighty Johan Hegg. He switches approaches from song to song, here a little Barney Greenway, there some black metal Fenriz, interspersed among a less well articulated version of his later trademark growl. Also, he hadn’t yet learned the power of the killer chorus, which makes some of the songs not so memorable, though there are enjoyable in the moment. Personally, I could do without the battle sound effects of the eponymous Amon Amarth, which sound a tad ridiculous and obvious even for a band where every song is about battles.
While a bit long, the highlight for me is Victorious March. The main riff really captures the feeling of boots stomping on your head for most of the track’s 8 minutes, and it feels good! Overall, a nice debut, though clearly lacking the polish of AA’s later gems.