Every hessian band duder ever will tell you that the new album is the same as the previous one, only heavier and more brutal. And even if that's true, it's hard to pull off in real life, where the will to be heavy often leads to riffage that is shrill and speedy or, worse, deadeningly uninventive. Amon Amarth may have, at their inception, not seemed destined to wield the Scimitar of Metal Invincibility, but they began with great intent: to create crushingly molten metal based on Viking myth. Previous albums had seen them falter while reaching for the Flaming Sword of Radness, their desires outpacing their abilities. Reach and grasp did finally meet on 2008's Twilight of the Thunder God, a motherfucker of an album, blistering and cohesive. As perfect as Twilight is, though, Surtur Rising houses it handily. Opener "War of the Gods" finds twin Mjöllnirs bashing many crania to a vaguely Eurodisco beat as the white-hot dual leads scorch and cleave. Vocalist Johan Hegg's Cookie Monster growl volleys endlessly through the void, especially on the punishing "Wrath of the Norsemen" and the over-the-top "A Beast Am I." The gut-wrenching "Last Stand of Frej," meanwhile, opens the heavy black gates to Helheim. With glistening production and furiously clever playing, the 'Marth do what they always do and yet best their previous efforts. All hail!
AMON AMARTH | Paradise Rock Club, 967 Comm Ave, Boston | May 7 @ 7:30 pm | all ages | $22.50 | 617.562.8800