Sunday, January 22, 2012

Amon Amarth - Twilight of the Thunder God

Amon Amarth is one of the most famous extreme metal bands of all-time. They have album sales and concert attendance that has dominated that of Death, The Black Dahlia Murder, Dimmu Borgir, Epica, DevilDriver, Whitechapel, Behemoth, Arch Enemy, Meshuggah, and many other metal giants. This alone has proved to the world that they are one of the most successful and biggest death metal acts in existence. There’s only one problem when I get involved in a conversation about Amon Amarth, and that is that this is literally the only album that they have put out so far that has truly impressed me (let alone blow me away). I got this album around the time of its release in 2008; which was around the time where I really started getting into the more extreme metal genres. So this is an album I’ve been listening to for a little under five years. About two years ago I decided to get some of their previous albums and, to be honest, I wasn’t really that satisfied with what I heard. But the album I’m here to talk about is Twilight of the Thunder God.

When people ask me what “pure” melodic death sounds like, this is one of the first albums that comes to my mind. Some of you out there probably haven’t realized this yet but how can you get any purer of a melodic death metal sound than this? But I’m not saying that all the songs sound the same. In fact, there is a great amount of uniqueness and individuality that each song holds that keeps the listener engaged. When you look at the album as a whole, you can see a perfect balance of melodic areas and heavy areas as well as a balance of slow tempos and fast tempos. But when you look at each song individually, there isn’t much of a balance at all; it’s pretty much either one or the other. And of course there are a few songs that have a little bit of everything mixed in.

My absolute favorite thing about this album is the sound of the guitar distortion. I know I talk about this in pretty much all of my reviews and that some of you find it annoying and pointless; but it can actually have a huge influence on how much I enjoy the record. The guitar distortion on this album is extremely crunchy and rough; anyone with ears can hear that. But it also seems extremely smooth and even mushy. I absolutely love it and I don’t really know how many filters and effects they put on the guitars but it sounds really cool and it’s not something that can be found on any other album.

The song on this record that speaks out to me the most is the title track. The song has an intro that contains the epic lead guitar line that every Amon Amarth fan knows by heart. This is part of why this album and song was so successful, because the opening guitar riff gets stuck in your head so easily. The term “epic” is extremely difficult to truly define. It’s one of those things that can’t be put into words, but you know what it is after hearing it for a bit. I get questions like that from music “noobs” that ask questions like “what is melodic?” and “what is brutal?” The only way I can think of to answer those questions is to just play examples of “brutal” or “melodic” music and compare it to other songs that are less melodic/brutal/etc. The word I use to describe the title song (and actually the majority of the album) is “epic”. The best way I can describe it is that it’s filled with lots of tension and power, but still sticks to a relatively melodic sound.

An example of this album’s heavier side would be Where is your God? This song is the core of all the anger and rage that this record holds inside. If you want to hear a really angry melodic death song, look no more because this is the song for you. Before I got in the habit of listening to entire albums, I would only listen to a couple of songs off an album (minus a few records). For me, the only songs that I listened to off of this record is Twilight of the Thunder God and Where is your God? So obviously because of that, those are the songs that I’m most familiar with.

I stopped listening to this album for about a year or two because I was so distracted with all the new music I was discovering. Now that my music library contains over 22,000 songs, I can’t just choose one album to listen to; I chose a genre and put it on shuffle. Or I will often times combine three or four genres, put them on shuffle, and then just let my Zune play all throughout the day. I was re-introduced to this album in late 2009 when I was shuffling all my melodic death stuff. I had a big happy face on for the rest of the day.

When I got home from school that day, I decided to give Amon Amarth’s older material another go. Once again, nowhere near as impressive as this album. I don’t want to call this a fluke, but through my eyes, it kind of is. This album is truly a monstrous landmark in death metal history and an instant classic. In early 2010 this album received a gold certification after selling over 500,000 copies and has continued to surpass that number more and more since then. I would not be surprised if it eventually sold over 700,000+ copies. But album sales aren’t something that a band should be overly concerned about. The only reason why I told you the amount of success this album has received is to prove to you that I’m not just one of the few random guys that for some reason think this album is outstanding. This album is truly outstanding and gets my score of 17/20.