You've got to hand it to the Swedes. They really have a knack for creating global brands. IKEA, Volvo, SAAB, an extremely entertaining royal family, ABBA, Ericsson, Husqvarna, Björn Borg, Absolut Vodka, and then of course there's the ever-more popular purveyors of viking metal, Amon Amarth. 'Deceiver of the Gods' will make the Amon Amarth brand no less stronger in the metal world.
Amon Amarth hit my radar big time in 2008 when they released 'Twilight of the Thunder God'. I'd listened to their older material and indeed appreciated the mighty Pursuit of Vikings tune from 'Fate of Norns' (2004), but apart from that one cut, their first six releases never really caught on for me. 'Twilight...' changed that entirely. The fresh, catchy, yet heavy platter hit me like the hammer of Thor. It was quite a revelation, that one.
'Surtur Rising' (2011) was, despite its impressive chart positions, a slight disappointment for me. It was less catchy, and the production not as effective as it had been on 'Twilight...'. The songs wouldn't stick quite the way the songs from the predecessor did.
In a wise move, Amon Amarth have tried a new producer in the shape of Andy Sneap, and this has sharpened up the swords for the Norsemen. That said, I wasn't actually hugely impressed when I first listened to 'Deceiver of the Gods'. The ten songs didn't immediately worm their way into my ears. That did change, though, over the next couple of weeks; the album has grown from being so-so alright to being a collection of first class Viking metal songs, drawing on influences ranging from old school heavy metal over thrash to doom. There is probably greater diversity on this album when you begin looking into the detail than any of the previous Amon Amarth outings - which is probably why it didn't immediately catch on with a simpleton like me. Do not worry, though, there's plenty of mid-tempo, double-pedal-laden, melodic death metal on the album!
As it was the case on the past couple of albums, a guest star appearance is made, this time in the shape of former Candlemass voice, Messiah Marcolin who lends his vocal chords to the song Hel. It's a very nice surprise to hear Marcolin's characteristic voice again, and also how well Johan Hegg and Marcolin compliment each other. Hel is in my view one of the strongest cards of the album along with the eight-minute masterpiece Warriors of the North.
My advice, if you don't immediately like 'Deceiver of the Gods', is that you should do yourself the favour of giving it a couple of extra spins before discarding it. Trust me, it's worth it!