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Amon Amarth: Berserker

I recently read an article suggesting that heavy metal is one of the fastest growing musical genres. With hope, this new release by Amon Amarth will add to that growth even more. If the band’s last album is any indication, the band is enjoying some of the best sales of their career and this album certainly warrants the positive press it’s received so far. Given that the band has been together for 25 years, that’s an impressive sign of ongoing passion, endurance, and commitment. That’s a long time to keep pressing forward, especially in the always-fickle and unpredictable music industry. In a world where Taylor Swift’s cheery new single appeared only a week before the thundering power of Berserker, there’s no telling what to expect. I can’t really speculate on the reasons for the band’s increased popularity, but it helps that they release consistently strong albums, that their live shows are amazing, and that they’ve generally shied away from Manowar’s wardrobe choices.

I’m obviously joking about Manowar, but I think it matters that Amon Amarth has never quite embraced the label “Viking Metal.” For them, Melodic Death Metal is accurate enough. There’s always a risk that the Viking-themed lyrics will come off cheesy or insincere, but Amon Amarth doesn’t seem capable of making it all seem like a joke. Many bands have tried to look and sound tough only to fail miserably. Amon Amarth’s style works and for 25 years they’ve been inviting us to join them in the celebration of a storied history, legend, and myth. Every time I’ve seen Amon Amarth, I’ve waited eagerly for that Viking ship to take the stage at the end. Very few bands can take on legendary status, but it’s fair to say that this band is the unstoppable force many of us believe them to be. I’ll leave it to others to decide if that makes them legendary.

The good news about Berserker, the band’s 11th album, is that there is no sign that the band has into easy patterns and predictable formulas. Sure, their music has a particular style, but there’s enough variety here to suggest the band isn’t relying on past triumphs. Even better, most of the best tracks are right in the middle of the album which means that listeners will find more and more to like with each passing minute. My favorite tracks include “Shield Wall,” “Raven’s Flight,” “The Berserker at Stamford Bridge,” and “Skoll and Hati.”

Some people are suggesting that this album is the band’s most accessible album. I agree with that point, but I don’t take that to mean the band has grown soft. The music is extreme and powerful and the vocals are as raw as ever. If you’re worried about it, just listen to a few tracks and get lost in the stories of travel, warfare, and triumph. If you’re lucky enough to catch Amon Amarth on the road, raise your horns and enjoy your evening of Viking-inspired fun.

Track Listing:
1. Fafner’s Gold
2. Crack the Sky
3. Mjölner, Hammer of Thor
4. Shield Wall
5. Valkyria
6. Raven’s Flight
7. Ironside
8. The Berserker at Stamford Bridge
9. When Once Again We Can Set Our Sails
10. Skoll and Hati
11. Wings of Eagles
12. Into the Dark

Added: May 3rd 2019
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 1230
Language: english

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Amon Amarth: Berserker
Posted by Simon Bray, SoT Staff Writer on 2019-05-04 00:55:51
My Score:

I remember the first time I really paid attention to Amon Amarth . It was at What turned out to be the penultimate Bloodstock indoor festival in 2005 and they were sandwiched in between After Forever and Within Temptation. An interesting juxtaposition of loveliness I’m sure we can all agree. Their performance that day left me kind of flat. I really dug showing my Viking horns every five songs but all said songs all seemed to be very samey. I wrote them off for a period before revisiting their catalogue. I learnt to love them.

I think the band has, like a (cliche alert) fine wine matured with age. I think all their albums this decade but especially 2013’s Deceiver of the Gods have been head and shoulders above their earlier efforts. I went through a phase of playing Warriors of the North repeatedly driving my family to the edge of insanity. I’m not sure that there’s anything quite as epic and magnificent on Beserker although Into the Dark is a brooding presence at the album’s conclusion.

The rest of the album is 100% solid at worst but very much inspired in places such as the fantastic Ironside which unbelievably isn’t about a wheelchair bound detective disappointingly enough. The guitars sound great throughout but especially on Mjolner, Hammer of Thor and the singles Crack the Sky and Raven’s Flight work as both good appetisers and slightly more commercial pieces. All in all Amon Amarth have smashed out another on their current winning streak.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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