I was actually surprised that this was in the review pool when I browsed... and had been there for a couple months. It got me thinking, have they jumped the shark? Why would this be ignored? I had heard the title track Deceiver of the Gods on the Sirius metal channel and I liked it. I scratched my head and claimed the record, and wondered what I was in for.

Amon Amarth is a band that evolves glacially. You can put on their first record and then this one and hear a marked evolution, but from album to album, the change is far more subtle. The reason is simple: They have a sound and a formula that works extremely well. Why tamper too much with it? By now if you aren't familiar with Amon Amarth and their brand of thundering, thrashy melodic death metal, then you must have been living way off the grid. Their sound is easily distinguishable from other melodic death metal bands, and their lyrics are almost exclusively based on Norse mythology.

Deceiver of the Gods continues in that tradition, expanding on the tales from Ragnarok that began two releases prior with Twilight of the Thunder God and continued with 2011's Surtr Rising. I am unsure if this was an intentional trilogy, in fact, not even sure if this is really intended to be a concept album or series of them. I would say it's more thematic than conceptual- using the overarching backdrop of Ragnarok to tell the stores of the gods, giants, and mankind alike. Regardless, the mood created in this album is just as dark and compelling as the previous two, and intentional or not these three albums make an amazing trilogy that gets my Nordic heart pounding.

I really don't believe Amon Amarth have had a bad album. The band has taken baby steps while evolving and peppered their releases with guest appearances. This time, vocalist Messiah Marcolin, formerly of Candlemass, steps in on the track Hel and lends his traditional, Dio-inspired vocals to Johan Hegg's fearsome bellows. There are some really cool ambient vocals in the song, but sadly, Marcolin's actual verses are somewhat buried underneath Hegg's death growls. To me, that defeats the purpose of the guest vocal, but either way, it was the first time I heard clean vocals attempted on an Amon Amarth release. Can't say I dug it, but perhaps in the future, if they incorporate them, it will shine a little more.

Honestly, aside of that, the album is devoid of weak spots. It's right up there in the Pantheon with all the other great Amon Amarth releases. It still baffles me as to why this sat in the pool for so long, but I'm pretty glad I fished it out. It's definitely worth checking out if you haven't already.