Amon Amarth

Amon Amarth

The Avenger

Metal Blade

Aside from the addition of new guitarist Johan Soderberg (who replaces the since-departed Anders Hannson), Amon Amarth’s newest album, The Avenger , differs scantly from their debut album, Once Sent From the Golden Hall . That’s all right, though, because Amon Amarth is one of the few black-/death-metal bands that can both grind and groove — and by “groove” I mean mid-tempos that simultaneously stomp and scathe. It matters not that these Swedes bear a strong resemblance to contemporaneous countrymen Hyporicsy’s latest — and best — work (that band’s Peter Tagtgren lent his characteristically scorching production to The Avenger ): Both bands, by virtue of their more advanced aesthetics, are essential to such extremity busting out of the ghetto and etching a place on the grand musical map.

Metal Blade Records, 2828 Cochran St., Suite 302, Simi Valley, CA 93065-2793; http://www.metalblade.com

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