The legendary Amon Amarth perfected melodic Death Metal with the band’s previous album, 2008’s sacrosanct masterpiece Twilight of the Thunder God. So what’s left after supremacy? A million years ago, Slayer switched gears after their ferocious magnum opus, Reign in Blood, and so its follow-up, South of Heaven, was a classic of another kind. Amon Amarth, however, have very much stuck to their established songwriting formula with the long-awaited Surtur Rising. And that is the furthest thing imaginable from a complaint. There is no need to change what works this well. It’s hardly surprising to say that this album is absolutely amazing from beginning to end, because that’s exactly what I expect from AA, and they always deliver. But maybe just one cool surprise (other than the iTunes-only bonus System of a Down cover song, “Aerials,” which is unexpectedly good) would have secured these Vikings something that is virtually unheard of: Two perfect albums in a row. This is, however, as close as it is gets, only held back from a ten by less than the thickness of Gleipnir. (Look it up!)
The CD comes with a DVD featuring all four of the live shows from Bochum, Germany, that were used for the bonus CDs that accompanied 2009’s reissues of AA’s first four full-length albums. There is also a deluxe version that comes with the DVD plus a small statue of the fire giant Surtur, as well as two bonus tracks (which I have not yet heard); covers of Accept (“Balls to the Wall”) and Kiss (“War Machine”). Oh, and then there’s the vinyl picture disc… I’m not thrilled that there are so many different versions of this album, but it’s not to be missed, whatever the format.
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