When it comes to Viking metal bands, AMON AMARTH continually stands out as one of the best in the industry. Their particular blend of AT THE GATES-inspired Swedish death metal will never disappoint. This time around AMON AMARTH comes back with their most aggressive album since The Crusher. Although at first it may sound similar to their prior outing, Versus the World, in terms of pacing, their newest release contains far more aggression and animosity. Unlike their previous album, The Fate of Norns, which was a much slower, melancholy album, With Oden on Our Side explodes full of Viking fury with songs about hand-to-hand combat, remembering fallen comrades, and legendary folk tales involving colossal serpents and fighting the Irish. “Valhalla Awaits Me,” “Runes to My Memory,” “Asator,” and “Cry of the Blackbirds” are the heaviest, fastest tracks on the album, while the others are more mid-tempo accounts of various Viking exploits.
Johan Hegg’s vocals improve with each successive album, and his performance on this release stands out as his best thus far. He ranges from high pitched screams to incredibly low, grumbling roars. Excellent riffs are provided as usual by Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Soderberg, and Fredrik Andersson’s drumming chops have only gotten better. This is an incredibly strong album by perhaps the strongest Viking metal band, and both newcomers and long time fans should bask in the glory of this melodic death masterpiece. In a year full of excellent metal releases, this album still stands as one of the very best of 2006. (Metal Blade Records)