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Twilight Of The Thunder God (Metal Blade)
In their own little profitable orange and brown world, Amon Amarth are the shameless Vikings, putting up tales of travel to distant shores like X-Rays in the doctor's office for our approval. But there aren't too many dark spots anymore, Johan and crew writing a very sunny, melodic death at headbanging mid-paced speeds more and more with each album. In fact, Twilight Of The Thunder God (doesn't that title just blur by like nothing?) sounds like accessible Sunlight Studio death circa grinding Entombed, crossed with In Flames, Six Feet Under and a bunch of holler-along anthems from power metal. Fine by me, given the band's knack for catchy, grooving riffs of girth and mirth. I mean, the death is still in place via Johan's barrel-chested roar, but man, these are creamy and bulbous production values, applied to tight, Balls To The Wall-ish pure metal playing, sweetened with, to be a little more precise, those massive melodic power chords of In Flames at their most connecting. And the drums reverberate like they're recorded at 16 rpm, the perfect low rumble for all those mid-neck riffs and Hagar The Horrible's growled storytelling prowess. Children Of Bodom and Apocalyptica cameos, as well as limited edition Bobbleheads perk up the tale of what, frankly, is just going to be another beloved, solid-selling Amon Amarth record, no major adjustments offered, none required.
REIGN IN BLOOD
D.X. Ferris (Continuum Books)
If you are conservative and scholarly, some of the books in this series won't be your bag. I've read the Master Of Reality, and it's sort of an experimental fiction piece with loony bins and listening to Sabbath as recurring themes. Ferris, on the other hand, did dozens of interviews and basically wrote a short, intense, meticulous history of Reign In Blood and really, the whole band, including sociological context bios on each of the guys, impact on the metal world (like Appetite, it took a few years for folks to flock around this album - I prefer South Of Heaven and even Seasons). But yeah, the orbit as well, including Rick Rubin, Andy Wallace and Russell Simmons. Geez. The result is an authorized, damn perfect look at this one album. And to back up a bit, if you don't know the deal, this is a well-regarded series of about 60 books, 4 3/4" x 6 1/2", the rule being it's a history of one album in around 30,000 words. Metal's pretty thin on the ground though, with the rest being rock classics from the wider realm, so it's cool to see this extreme album covered so, well, scholarly, even if it's maybe a bit dry at times. From memory, I'd say it's one of the longer ones too, so kudos for value here.
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