Undoubtedly Amon Amarth’s offspring
Thousand Year War are a relatively new act to join the melodic death metal scene, with the band (Whose sole permanent member is former Old Path vocalist/guitarist Hiram Lohr) only coming together in 2008. Although they have only been together for a few years, they did manage to release their independent E.P. Shadow of the Colossus in 2009, which immediately caught the eye of Abyss Records. A couple of years later and Thousand Year War (who comprise of Lohr, and session guitarist/bassist Kellen Sharp and session drummer Fredrik Widigs of Angrepp/Desultor/The Ugly) are back with their debut full-length album Tyrants and Men.
Prior to knowing anything about this Alaskan (Homer based) act, I could have sworn that these guys hailed from Sweden. The opening track on the album Defiance has a strong Amon Amarth influence musically, and to some extent in the vocals (Lohr manages to get a bit more of a snarl in his delivery compared to those of Johan Hegg). While the similarities between the two acts are undeniable, Defiance is a solid enough track, and a fitting start to the album.
The Sea (inspired by Lohr’s passion for sea) is a powerful follow-up effort that features plenty of galloping riffs and aggressive vocals, which is emphasised all the more by the slower passages that allow the riffs to really stand out.
The faster paced pair of No Gods, No Masters and Thousand Year War have a strong Gothenburg vibe that brings to mind shades of Dark Tranquillity mixed with Amon Amarth with their dense riffing and greater emphasis of melody throughout the choruses, while Open Casket reveals a trace of thrash metal with its fast paced and abrasive riffing.
The cover of I’s The Storm I Ride (from their 2006 debut Between Two Worlds) is a strange choice, and while it’s a solid and faithful reinterpretation of the song, it does stand out on the album as a little too different in style (death ‘n’ roll versus melodic death metal) to really blend in enough with the rest of the album.
The mid-paced Warriors of Deceit and the intense blast of One Final Breath are effective, but a little unmemorable around the latter half of the album, while the spirit and influence of Amon Amarth once again infiltrates the mid-paced crushing groove of Spartacus.
Finishing up the album is the title track, Tyrants and Men, which is by far the most original sounding track on the album, with the bass deviating away from the guitar riffs and the intense drumming from Widigs helping the song writing to distance itself from sounding exactly like its obvious influences.
For a melodic death metal album, Tyrants and Men is a solid release. Unfortunately, Amon Amarth have well and truly been there and done that countless times over, which means that as good as Thousand Year War are, they will always be second best at it.
If you’re a fan of melodic death metal in the vein of Amon Amarth, you could do a whole lot worse than Thousand Year War. But if you’re looking for something unique, you may have to wait a while before Thousand Year War finds their own identity and sound.