Originally written by Jordan Campbell
After splendidly repackaging and reissuing Amon Amarth‘s first two albums, Metal Blade soldiers into the lair of The Crusher, the mad vikings’ third offering. While taking this step is logical from a purely chronological standpoint, it’s about time to cue the skepticism regarding the continuance of this activity.
Undoubtedly, the reissues of Once Sent From The Golden Hall and The Avenger were warmly welcomed; veteran Amon Amarth fans rever those albums as the band’s most visceral and vital offerings, and their exposure to the new breed of AA fans was of utmost importance. However, The Crusher is most notable for being a lackluster followup to a masterpiece–much like Fate of Norns clunked and gasped in the wake of Versus The World. In spite of some momentary flashes of magic, The Crusher is a wooden, hollow rehash of superior ideas.
That’s not to imply that it lacks strength. “Risen From The Sea” is a taut little necksnapper, with the vintage riffing at the one-minute mark blasting it into Greatest Hits territory. “A Fury Divine” is bursting with swagger, and its emotive solo makes it the album’s highlight. Johan Hegg flexes some of his most impressive lyrics here, and he spits them with unmatched contempt and intensity. But his vocal firestorms on “Bastards of a Lying Breed,” the epic-in-a-bottle “The Sound of Eight Hooves” and the aforementioned “A Fury Divine” can’t steer The Crusher away from becoming a trite, long-winded retread of The Avenger. The structure is similar, but not nearly as concise; the riffing is familiar, but sorely lacking in pointedness and purpose. And when the band decide to hop off the beaten path, the result is “The Fall Through Ginnungagap,” an awkward mess that is likely the worst song of their career.
Fans of this album, quite obviously, already own it, and the attached live disc is hardly grounds for a repurchase–unless you absolutely have to hear a live version of “Masters of War.” Even the bonus track tacked onto the core album, “The Eyes of Horror,” has been readily available for ages. Those that have been turned on to Amon Amarth recently should nab Once Sent…and The Avenger before even looking in The Crusher‘s direction, as it’s arguably the weakest link in the band’s catalog. It was a frustrating disappointment eight years ago, and death metal certainly isn’t fine wine.