Sep 192013
 

(To quote the legendary Orson Welles, “We will serve no wine before its time.” The time has finally arrived for the legendary DGR’s review of the latest album by the legendary Amon Amarth.)

If you are a heavy metal writer, at some point in your career there will come the moment when you cross paths with writing about Amon Amarth. It’s become a requirement, and something of a ritual, that at some point must discuss an Amon Amarth disc. Despite appearances that I’ve been metal blogging forever, I’ve managed to avoid this ritual, having handed off reviews in the past to people who absolutely loved their latest disc or were so familiar with the band that they could capably argue its quality and merits.

Amon Amarth have, at this point, ascended beyond being a band and have become a cultural staple – to an Iron Maiden degree. They’re a band people who don’t like heavy metal, or haven’t listened to much of it, will talk about as if they’re the greatest thing in the world. The sheer mention of Amon Amarth will cause people who have never heard of the band to act like it’s the coolest thing that they’re the Viking metal band. It is a gimmick to which the band have dedicated themselves to the fullest, and it has permeated their whole career to the point now that we often don’t actually talk about the music when we talk about Amon Amarth.

It’s worked for them so well that they’re beyond musical discussion, because we know that, at the very least, it will be an Amon Amarth disc. It sucks, too, because Amon Amarth have put out some fantastic music and some very high quality albums, so there really is always a discussion to be had about the band, beyond the fact they have a fucking longboat on stage. Continue reading »

Sep 162013
 

I wet myself a little bit when I was informed of this tour, announced not long ago. Okay, to be honest, my bladder completely loosened and I’m now swimming in the processed fluids of last night’s beer. It’s such a good feeling, because seriously, look at that line-up.

Amon Amarth, Enslaved, and Skeletonwitch will be touring fortunate parts of the U.S. during January and February of 2014. Tickets are on sale now at this location.

My bladder-loosening enthusiasm is tempered only by the fact that neither Seattle nor any other city in the Pacific Northwest are on the schedule. Looks like San Francisco is as close as this bladder-loosening extravaganza will come. Fuck, there may be an SEA-SFO plane ticket in my future, though the airline would have to upholster my seat in plastic, or maybe I’ll finally have to splurge on some personal care products.

In case you have trouble seeing the dates in the tour flyer, you can find them listed after the jump. Continue reading »

Jul 152013
 

I love our European brethren and sistren so much that I’m belatedly sharing this news even though it makes me slightly bitter. Okay, more than slightly bitter. More accurately, it makes me want to bite you in my bitterness.

This fall Amon Amarth and Carcass are linking horns in a tour called DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH IV, and they’ll be joined by UK’s Hell. The flyer you see up above just spotlights the UK dates on the tour, where Bleed From Within will also join the tour. But many other countries will be visited as well.

That’s really all I have to say about this. The complete tour dates can be seen after the jump.  Bastards. Continue reading »

Jun 282013
 

This news item isn’t the kind of thing you see every day. In March, the company that makes the Firefox web browser (Mozilla) rolled out in test mode a significant new module for the browser called OdinMonkey — and gave credit to Amon Amarth as the musical inspiration for the name. And as of this week that module is now included in the latest Firefox release.

Now I know a few things about computer hardware and software, but the knowledge doesn’t go especially deep, so there will be a limit on how well I can explain what OdinMonkey does. But here goes (and I hope readers who know this stuff better than I do will correct me if I fuck it up):

Every web browser includes a JavaScript engine, which is software that interprets and executes JavaScript (a type of programming code) delivered by web servers, and that allows users to see and interact with web pages on their computers and other personal devices. OdinMonkey is a module for the JavaScript engine embedded in Firefox that will dramatically speed up the execution of JavaScript, boosting performance by 1000% or more, improving the ability to play games online and to use web-based applications. According to an article I found on the ExtremeTech web site:

“With OdinMonkey optimizing this process, code executed this way is only two times slower than native execution (as if the code was executed locally, outside the browser, without the JS-to-assembly transcompiling). While this might not sound particularly fast, normal JavaScript (such as when you load the ExtremeTech website) is maybe 20 or 30 times slower than native code. For comparison, Chrome executes asm.js code at around 10 times slower than native speed, and Firefox (without OdinMonkey) is around 12 times slower than native.

…Not only does it boost performance by a huge margin, but it could also act as a cornerstone for web apps that actually perform like their installed, native cousins. In short, OdinMonkey could finally allow for a web-based Adobe Photoshop or Crysis.”

And now here’s the metal part of this story. According to Luke Wagner, a software engineer at Mozilla who announced OdinMonkey on his blog, this was “the musical inspiration for OdinMonkey”: Continue reading »

Jun 182013
 

Here is a trio of songs that I discovered yesterday that are worth hearing. The first two are brand new and come from well-known Swedish melodic death metal bands. The third is from a German band who are a pleasant new discovery for me, and maybe for you, too.

AMON AMARTH

I suppose there are people out there who are on the fence about Amon Amarth, or conceivably haven’t yet made their acquaintance. But I suspect most people who are reading this are either already fans or wrote the band off already. This message is addressed to the fans and to those who might not yet have given the band their time: The song that premiered yesterday is awesome.

Its name is “Father of the Wolf”, and it rocks very damned hard. It’s packed with irresistible riffs and megawatts of energy, and the wah-wah solos bring a different kind of guitar sound that gives the song a refreshing spin. With any luck we’ll soon have a review of the entire new album — Deceiver of the Gods — but in a nutshell I think it’s a standout for a dependably solid band. Here’s the new song: Continue reading »

May 302013
 

In mid-April Amon Amarth brought us a stream and a free download of the title track to their forthcoming album Deceiver of the Gods, which I duly reported here. At that point, I wrote this:

With this band, here in 2013, you know with a high degree of certainty what will lie within. Both thematically and musically, the band have settled on a formula that has made them exceedingly popular. It’s a formula that happens to appeal to me, though I must admit that I would love it if the band broke their own mold every now and then and fired something different in the kiln.

Today brought us a stream — and a free download — of the new album’s title track. It’s a thrashier attack than much of what was to be found on 2011′s Surtur Rising, but no less catchy than what you would expect from this band, and with an appealing dual-guitar melody in the mid-part. As my NCS colleagues have pointed out, it also includes a key change!

Have Amon Amarth broken the mold with this song? Nope — it will not throw the Amon Amarth faithful for a loop, nor will it change the minds of those listeners who aren’t impressed with this brand of Viking-themed melodic death metal. But it’s only one song. We may still hear something we aren’t expecting.

Today, Stereogum has exclusively premiered a second song from the album by the name of “Shape Shifter”. I give up. I abandon all semblance of analytical objectivity. The song drives me into 100% fanboy mode. There is only one word for this, no matter how overused that word is: EPIC. Continue reading »

Apr 132013
 

Yesterday Amon Amarth unveiled the cover art, title, and release date for their new album Deceiver of the Gods, which I duly reported here. I seem to have stirred up some shit on our site with a less-than-enthusiastic reaction to the album art. I still maintain that it’s a mixed bag, but I try not to judge a book (or an album) by its cover. More important is what lies within.

With this band, here in 2013, you know with a high degree of certainty what will lie within. Both thematically and musically, the band have settled on a formula that has made them exceedingly popular. It’s a formula that happens to appeal to me, though I must admit that I would love it if the band broke their own mold every now and then and fired something different in the kiln.

Today brought us a stream — and a free download — of the new album’s title track. It’s a thrashier attack than much of what was to be found on 2011’s Surtur Rising, but no less catchy than what you would expect from this band, and with an appealing dual-guitar melody in the mid-part. As my NCS colleagues have pointed out, it also includes a key change!

Have Amon Amarth broken the mold with this song? Nope — it will not throw the Amon Amarth faithful for a loop, nor will it change the minds of those listeners who aren’t impressed with this brand of Viking-themed melodic death metal. But it’s only one song. We may still hear something we aren’t expecting. In the meantime, listen to this one after the jump. Continue reading »

Apr 122013
 

Well, as DGR wrote in a message I just saw, “In case you guys were worried, it appears that Amon Amarth’s new cd will in fact be about vikings.” Whew, that’s a relief.

Today, the band disclosed that Deceiver Of The Gods is the title of their new album, and that it will be released in June via Metal Blade Records. Andy Sneap, handled the production and there will apparently be a guest appearance by former Candlemass singer Messiah Marcolin, which is intriguing.

Metal Blade also unveiled the album’s cover art, which is supposed to depict “the last battle between the Gods and Loki who arrives at Vigridr field accompanied by the army of the dead during Ragnarok, the end of the world.” The event, of course, is a badass slice of legend. However, I must say that the cover art is not quite as badass as the event it is supposed to depict. Maybe it will grow on me. Continue reading »

Jan 012013
 

Your humble editor has been so busy over the last four days with year-end lists, Most Infectious Song posts, and non-blogging life events that I haven’t compiled a news/new-music round-up since last week. However, I was watching out for developments, and now I’m finally collecting those which seemed worthy of notice. I have enough items to vomit forth into your laps that I’ve divided them into two posts, this being the first.

ETERNAL TEARS OF SORROW

It would be poor form to start the new year at NCS without some Finnish metal. As it happens, this first day of 2013 has delivered something new from Finland, and what it delivered also gives us a chance to start the new year by again confusing people. Sowing confusion makes life worth living.

The news is that Finland’s Eternal Tears of Sorrow have a new album entitled Saivon Lapsi that’s scheduled for release on February 22. It features album art (above) by Travis Smith. In addition to that news, the band also premiered today a music video for one of the new songs, “Swan Saivo”. The video is a beautifully made allegory with a visually arresting finish (and includes some great footage of the band headbanging). And I enjoyed the song, too . . . though its appearance at this site will indeed confuse some people. Continue reading »