Amon Amarth Critic's Choice Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard

When: Thu., April 14, 8 p.m. 2011

After years of confusion about their genre identity, Swedish melodeath veterans Amon Amarth have finally claimed the "Viking metal" label—or at least let somebody else put it in their website's Google description. Don't worry, guys, coming out is a long and complicated process for a lot of people. But once you've gotten to the point of selling a deluxe limited edition of your new album that comes with an action figure of Surtr—leader of the fire giants, also known as "the Black One," in Norse mythology—your orientation is no secret to anyone but you. It's really all right; you're blond burly guys from the land of ice and snow, so you've always tripped our Freyr-dar. The album in question, Surtur Rising (Metal Blade), slices through labels with confident ease, honing Amon Amarth's particular formula—riffs plus speed plus militancy, topped with enough cheese to repel metal dilettantes—into a very efficient vehicle for the delivery of adrenaline. "War of the Gods" is the declaration of hostilities, and the rest of the album is epic and melancholy mayhem—front man Johan Hegg occasionally sounds like he's actually terrified of dying in battle, but most of the rest of the time he's going berserk. It's not a great leap forward for the band, but it hardly needs to be. They'll play two different sets tonight. —Monica Kendrick

Price: $25, 17+.

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