Swedish Vikings Amon Amarth prove the fire still burns with crushing 12th album

By their own admission, 2019s Berserker saw Amon Amarth, Sweden’s finest purveyors of Viking Metal, hit a more traditional style than many fans were used to.

Amon Amarth – The Great Heathen Army (Metal Blade Records)

Release Date: 5 August 2022

Words: Paul Hutchings

Having formed in 1992, it took the band until 1998 to deliver their debut, Once Sent From The Golden Hall. Move forward 25 years and the Swedes are deservedly one of the biggest Metal bands in Europe, headlining arenas as well as festivals across the European mainland and events like Bloodstock Open Air (and yes, I was part of the Viking rowing there in 2017).

Amon Amarth – The Great Heathen Army (Metal Blade Records)
Amon Amarth – The Great Heathen Army (Metal Blade Records)

With 11 albums under their belt, Amon Amarth has little to prove. Their music has always contained memorable refrains, hooks, and crushing riffs, anthemic songs that raise the sails as the longboats head across the sea in search of treasure and adventure. With The Great Heathen Army, they have returned to the melodic Death Metal style that saw them rise to the top, with releases such as Fate Of Norns, With Oden On Our Side, Twilight Of The Thunder God and Deceiver Of The Gods.

Opening with the battery that is Get In The Ring, it is evident from the start that Amon Amarth means business. Johan Hegg is in magnificent form, his guttural roars as unnatural and unnerving as they’ve ever been. Get In The Ring was written for AEW pro-wrestling star Erick Redbeard but equally applies to the Viking themes that the band have used since those early days.

“The lyrics are obviously written to fit both Viking and wrestling themes,” Olavi Mikkonen said. “You can also see Erick as the lead character in the new video for the song. We shot the video in Wroclaw, Poland with our friends Grupa 13 and they helped us create this dark and epic Mad Max meets Viking underground super brutal fight club for the video clip.”

The Title track is an expansive track that has a huge and powerful driving rhythm, sledgehammer riffing and Jocke Walldren’s bludgeoning double kicking.

You want a singalong anthem? Look no further than Heidrun which is sure to be a live favourite, although it’s a bit twee for me and one of the weaker tracks on the album. But that’s picking a little, for Amon Amarth has upped the heaviness significantly for the majority of The Great Heathen Army, and tracks such as Oden Owns You All are skull-crushing in their heaviness.

The band have also continued their tradition of using guest vocalists, and this time it’s a return of the favour by Saxon frontman Biff Byford who follows in the footsteps of Messiah Marcolin, the late ars-Göran Petrov and Doro Pesch as he duets with Hegg on Saxons And Vikings, mirroring Hegg’s contribution to Predator on Saxon’s 2018 Thunderbolt record.

With Andy Sneap once more in the producer’s chair, the sound is crisp, clean and to be fair, damn great! The mix is superb, the guitars of Olavi Mikkonen soaring out above the pounding drive of drummer Walldren and the heavy riffage that bassist Ted Lundström and rhythm guitarist Johan Söderberg lay down.

It may not be their all-time best album (plenty would argue that Thunder God or With Oden take that accolade) but The Great Heathen Army is certainly pushing hard for the top position.

It is an album that showcases a band who, 30 years into their musical journey, is still intent on making high-quality music that will no doubt thrill their legions of fans.

Maybe a ticket to watch them with Machine Head is needed after all.

september

02sep7:00 pmMachine Head, InvernessIronworks

04sep7:00 pmMachine Head, Aberdeen *SOLD OUT*Lemontree

05sep7:00 pmMachine Head, DundeeFat Sams

06sep7:00 pmMachine Head, Edinburgh *SOLD OUT*Liquid Rooms

08sep7:00 pmMachine Head and Amon Amarth, NottinghamMotorpoint Arena

09sep7:00 pmMachine Head and Amon Amarth, CardiffMotorpoint Arena

10sep7:00 pmMachine Head and Amon Amarth, LondonSSE Arena

12sep7:00 pmMachine Head and Amon Amarth, ManchesterAO Arena

13sep7:00 pmMachine Head and Amon Amarth, Dublin3Arena

october

No Events

Vikings And Lionhearts European dates

Fri 16th Sep – ZURICH – Hallenstadion

Sat 17th Sep – VIENNA – Stadthalle

Sun 18th Sep – KRAKOW – Tauron Arena

Tue 20th Sep – TALLINN – Saku Arena

Wed 21st Sep – HELSINKI – Ice Hall

Fri 23rd Sep – OSLO – Spektrum

Sat 24th Sep – STOCKHOLM – Hovet

Mon 26th Sep – COPENHAGEN – Forum Black Box

Tue 27th Sep – HAMBURG – Barclays Arena

Wed 28th Sep – FRANKFURT – Festhalle

Fri 30th Sep – OBERHAUSEN – König Pilsener Arena

Sat 1st Oct – BERLIN – Velodrome

Sun 2nd Oct – AMSTERDAM – Afas Live

Tue 4th Oct – MILAN – Lorenzini District

Thu 6th Oct – BARCELONA – Sant Jordi

Fri 7th Oct – MADRID – Vistalegre

Sat 8th Oct – LA CORUNA – Coliseum

Sun 9th Oct – LISBON – Campo Pequeno

Wed 12th Oct – PARIS – Zenith

Fri 14th Oct – MUNICH – Olympiahalle

Sat 15th Oct – LEIPZIG – Arena

Sun 16th Oct – PRAGUE – Tipsport Arena

Tue 18th Oct – BUDAPEST – Barba Negra

Thu 20th Oct – ESCH SUR ALZETTE – Rockhal

Fri 21st Oct – BRUSSELS – Forest National

Sat 22nd Oct – STUTTGART – Schleyerhalle

Sleeve Notes

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