Amon Amarth's eighth full-length album is an important one in their discography, because it follows their breakthrough disc, 2008's Twilight of the Thunder God. That album, laden with guest appearances (Children of Bodom's Roopi Latvala, Entombed's LG Petrov, the cellists of Apocalyptica), was the Swedish band's most elaborate and powerful statement to date. Shockingly, on Surtur Rising they haven't fallen short of the mark they set for themselves three years earlier. The album's ten songs are typical anthemic Amon Amarth tracks, built for headbanging and chanting along with the powerful, warrior's-code choruses. Some, like "Destroyers of the Universe" and "War of the Gods," but particularly "A Beast Am I," are among the fastest songs the group has ever recorded, while others, like "Töck's Taunt: Loke's Treachery, Pt. II" and "The Last Stand of Frej," are slow, even brooding. The production has a bit more aggression than Twilight had, but the songs are arguably even catchier this time out, with some surprisingly clean guitar leads and atmospheric melodies emerging from the hair-spinning roar. A few subtle production flourishes -- the sounds of clashing swords on "War of the Gods" and crying ravens on "Töck's Taunt," plus some strings on "For Victory or Death" and the album-closing "Doom Over Dead Man" -- bolster the sound somewhat, but other than that it's up to the five members of Amon Amarth to keep the listener happy with nothing but guitars, bass, drums, and Johan Hegg's barrel-chested roars, and they do that with admirable skill. They're one of the most consistent bands in metal, and this is a terrific example of them playing to their strengths.
AllMusic Review by Phil Freeman