In 2008, I named Twilight of the Thunder God Album Of The Year. So naturally I had high hopes for this year's Surtur Rising (Metal Blade). Initially, my hopes were dashed upon the stones of a cold, Scandinavian shore. There was nothing that stood out to me. I wasn't hearing an album-to-album progression. I feared the longships were moored in port, never to sail again. But I raised my banners and pressed on. What I discovered was an album that conquered and pillaged as savagely as its predecessor. If a battle plan works, why change it? Through ten tracks, the Swedes continue to incite a blood lust with their powerful and melodic riffs. They are like virus that starts in the brain but soon infects the whole body. It makes a craven feel like a hero. An urge to don a longsword and march into battle rises as Johan Hegg growls the tales from Viking days of yore. They may not be conquering new lands but Amon Amarth holds firm dominion over the territory they rule. Any and all challengers to the crown are easily slain by their might. Crack open a cask of mead and raise your drinking horns! Rejoice in Surtur Rising!