I remember exactly where I was when I first discovered Amon Amarth. It’s not an exciting tale and I won’t bore you with the details, but at the time I'd been stuck in a rut, my musical taste had stopped expanding and I was listening to the same old albums over and over again. They were good albums, I loved them, I still do. But on that first spin of Amon Amarth's then latest album I was blown away... “who is this band and why have I not listened to them before?”.
This was long before the days when Spotify made every band extremely accessible, and at that moment I listened to that album over and over again on repeat for weeks. Then, as I did when I was a mere boy, I started exploring the music scene again, my listening habits expanded, Amon Amarth had given me the kick up the arse I needed to become invigorated by new music once more.
Throughout a storied 27 year, 12 album career Amon Amarth have explored in depth, Norse mythology, brought it to the forefront of the mainstream metal community and like me have opened the eyes of many a metal head to a new style of heavy music. All this leading to their popularity swelling and the massive achievement of headlining some of the biggest festivals in Europe.
2019 sees the release of their long-awaited new album, Berserker. Where their previous offering was a concept album, the band didn’t want to get into a situation where every album had to have a theme. “Sometimes you just get something in your head and there doesn’t have to be a bigger meaning behind it. Sometimes it’s just a great metal lyric that fits a great metal song” front man Johan muses. And that’s exactly what this album is a great metal album!
Out of the box, Berserker grows from a small flame into a full on blaze! The melodramatic opener ‘Fafners Gold’ builds from soft acoustic guitars weaving a introductory tale into a romping behemoth by its end. Galloping riffs, growing louder like an army on horse back drawing ever nearer. ‘Crack The Sky’ is thunderous from the off, dark, heavy with rolling heavy tones throughout.
‘Mjölner, Hammer Of Thor’ starts with the sounds of iron on iron, the sound of a blacksmith forging on an anvil as the song kicks in to regale the tale of the construction of the mythical hammer of the Norse god Thor. No matter which way the band turns there is always a tale to tell and Norse mythology to draw upon as inspiration.
‘Shield Wall’ is a classic, wondrously loud and dynamic it has the sound the band crafted in the Twilight of the Tunder God sessions, 11 years ago. The song is anthemic, much like all of the songs on that past album and it certainly wouldn’t be out of place there. But standing here on Berserker it reminds you just how explosive the band can be.
The anthemic songs are mixed in with the softer tunes as well as the experimental. ‘Valkyria’ is very different to anything Amon Amarth have put out before. It has a different song structure; the musical writing is magnificent and the sound… almost orchestral. It’s a song that demonstrates the range the band has, it shows they can push the envelope and broaden their horizons whilst still filling their life long fans with that fuzzy warm feeling that all is good in the Amon Amarth world.
The entire album is a masterpiece, it shows the band are going from strength to strength, growing as a unit, experimenting and delivering the ultimate in a Viking metal experience. Now the wait begins for them to bring this beast on the road!