Band: Amon Amarth
Release Date: 3rd May 2019
Record Label: Metal Blade Records
I’ve been a fan on Amon Amarth for quite a few years, and after how much I loved their last album, Jomsviking, I was of course excited to learn of the release of their latest record, Berserker.
The album starts off with Fafner’s Gold, which has an acoustic introduction before the familiar tone of Amon Amarth’s guitars kick in, and of course we have Johan’s trademark vocals too. It definitely has a Jomsviking style feel to it, but for me it’s not the powerful punch I was expecting for the start of Berserker. Crack the Sky has an older Amon Amarth feel to it, and it’s a much catchier and heavier track with plenty of opportunity to headbang.
We’re back to the Jomsviking feel with Mjolner, Hammer of Thor, however the song is still heavier and catchy and definitely another track to remember. Shield Wall of course has the feel of a battle song, and the older traits of the band are back in the mix. There’s also a catchy chorus to chant to live.
A heavy and headbanging intro brings us Valkyria, but we have a contrasting ending with piano seeing us out. Raven’s Flight is a fast and heavy track which demands a lot of headbanging and is definitely worthy of a Viking pit. There’s also a bit of track to growl along to with Johan. There are two contrasting parts to Ironside, competing for dominance. There are hard, fast and heavy sections complementing the slower, calmer sections.
The Berserker at Stamford Bridge is a track I was definitely looking forward to hearing when I first saw the track list, as the site of that famous battle is just a short drive away from where I live. It starts off slow and bassy and becomes heavier, so still plenty of opportunity for a good old headbang. There is a big more of a jiggy and folky aspect to When Once Again We Can Set Our Sails, but it’s still heavy enough for Amon Amarth, and you can still get some headbanging in there.
There’s more fast paced instrumentals and pit-worthy sections in Skoll and Hati, and a great fast picked solo. Wings of Eagles is another fast paced track, and the final track, Into the Dark, sends us off in true Viking style. There are large orchestral elements with strings and piano, with heavier sections that are true to Amon Amarth’s style, as well as slow and sludgy sections, as if the instrumental is showing a tough time awaits.
Amon Amarth have successfully managed to try something new whilst still holding true to their roots and previous records. There are some sections in the tracks which you wouldn’t expect to be in an Amon Amarth song, but there is always something familiar about them. They have got the right balance between maintaining their sound while keeping it fresh, and that, in my opinion, is not always an easy thing to do, particularly for a band such as Amon Amarth who have such a distinctive sound and image.
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