Fate of Norns (Metal Blade)
by Martin Popoff
If you didn’t know (and now you do!), this album had some mixing problems. And although they were fixed, Fate of Norns still isn’t ferocious or even really solid in the production department. It’s just there, an issue you probably wouldn’t address one way or another. By that I mean, it sounds pretty good and no better, with the guitars way up at the expense of the drums (notably a clicky kick), not a bad choice, given this band’s ancient, forlorn, cannily death-based riffs. Far and away the best track is the hugely catchy “The Pursuit of Vikings” which – trust me – you will not be able to get out of your head. This is followed by a shocking reminiscence of Immortal in the opening strains of “Valkyries Ride,” which soon settles down to the standard, bloodied but unbowed Viking metal that has put Amon Amarth at the top of this specific heap. Man, album after album, these guys crack me up. The Viking lessons never grow tired, and live, Amon Amarth kill with power. Portraying this record should be no exception, given the band’s knack for shotglassing old school Swedish death with technicality, attitude, and melody. Look for power ballad “The Beheading of a King” which sounds like boats bobbing in blood after a particularly tiring sea battle.