fri 14/08/2020

CD: Amon Amarth - Berserker | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Amon Amarth - Berserker

CD: Amon Amarth - Berserker

Successful Swedish metallers dipped deep in Norse mythology deliver an entertaining ride

Saturday night on Hemel Hempstead High Street

Many groups have based their career focusing almost completely on one thing and evermore honing it. Bands ranging from The Ramones to the Cocteau Twins to the Black Keys to even the Foo Fighters could arguably be said to follow this remit. Swedish metallers Amon Amarth certainly do. Since 1992 they have been creating Viking-themed metal and for their eleventh album, they are not about to change things.

Amon Amarth began at a time when Scandinavian death metal was mired in real darkness and controversy, but, although born of that scene, their sound blossomed into something much more crowd-pleasing and epic in scope. Nowadays they are festival-headlining behemoths, regularly reaching the Top 10 of album charts around the world. It’s easy to hear why.

The melodic twin guitar attack of Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg has a touch of Iron Maiden’s enjoyable bombast about it, with occasional outbreaks of folk song-ish interplay. Frontman Johan Hegg’s words are delivered in a gargled death metal growl but, unlike many who sing this way, he’s comprehensible and, for Game of Thrones fans, cosplay medievalists and the like, the lyrical content is enjoyable hokum.

It’s not every day you hear a battering, raucously bellowed number dedicated (I think) to Edmund I ("Ironside"). “The Berserker at Stamford Bridge”, meanwhile, concerns the famous one-man-against-an-army legend related to Harold Hardrada’s defeat in 1066. With previous album titles including With Odin On Our Side and Twilight of the Thunder God, Amon Amarth have long been bedded down in Nordic mythology and so it is with Berserker, whose “Mjölner, Hammer Of Thor” begins with said weapon hitting an anvil. But, such is the music’s theatrical flourish, it’s as much Marvel in scope as the ancient sagas.

Things conclude with the symphonic “Into The Dark” wherein the band flex their orchestral muscles. It closes an album that, seasoned with occasional stand-out songs such as “When Once Again We Can Set Our Sails”, is an entertaining, full-tilt, red-blooded metal gallop.

Below: Watch the video for "Raven's Flight" by Amon Amarth

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