May 1, 2019 Amon Amarth – Berserker (Album Review)
The European Metal scene is full of thriving culture full of bands passionate about their craft. Among the top contenders in Melodic Death Metal, is Sweden’s own Viking tribe, Amon Amarth. Going strong for over 25 years now, they are set to release their 11th studio album, titled Berserker, on Friday, May 3rd, 2019 via Metal Blade Records. With that, they try to go down a slightly different path.
Some may wonder, what exactly are the beloved Swedish metallers changing? Hopefully they are not going soft… right? Not to worry, that is not the type of change we are alluding to, instead the shift comes in the form of their typical writing routine. This time around, they opted to write all the music prior to the lyrics, staying adrift from one special concept along the way. Anyone who is familiar with the band know this is a very different approach, considering their albums have always evolved around a universal concept. That said, the result of change inside the Berserker sessions is a 12 song assortment diving into various mythological topics and an album cover featuring a giant Viking appearing ready to take on the whole world.
Currently comprised of Vocalist Johan Hegg, Guitarists Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg, Bassist Ted Lundström, along with newest member, Drummer Jocke Wallgren, on Berserker, they bring out the heart and soul that is Amon Amarth. Starting out the album in melodic and beautiful fashion, only to end in the best kind of heavy chaos, is the track “Father’s Gold.” Following with the forceful tune “Crack The Sky,” later, they break into “Shield Wall,” which is equally as ferocious while featuring a deathly prowess, exemplified with clarity, despite the harshness of the vocals.
Moving forward, even though some of the titles seem fairly unoriginal, such as “Valkyria,” the song themselves still bring in new exciting musical arrangements that can not be undermined. In fact, “Valkyria” ends with a beautifully melodic piano, making it quite memorable. The slightly more old school Death Metal based track “Raven’s Flight” offers over five minutes of heavy action packed riffs. Yet another five plus minute journey, “The Berserker at Stanford Bridge” takes you through epic battlegrounds and fantasy tales, making for a well-structured tune.
The fun continues with “When Once Again We Can Set Our Sails” which takes off at a smooth and steady pace. This is before moving into a speedy mosh pit stimulating “Skoll and Hati” before the album is finalized with the fantastical flight of freedom, “Wings of Eagles,” and “Into the Dark,” the longest most epic creation at six and a half minutes long.
Amon Amarth has a very defining knack of mixing the melody into the heavy in such an applauded way that it becomes almost a mainstream appeal. Furthermore, the stylized sound of Amon Amarth, mixed with stage shows of epic proportions, continue to make them an unstoppable band. With Berserker, the lyrics overall seem quite simple in each individual concept. Yet, the vocals of Hegg power along with the melodies as the beats fly the album on the biggest Viking ship imaginable over the seas instead of sinking into it in the usual storm. That is why Berserker is a much needed breath of fresh air and an anxiety cure with its best face forward. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock give the album 4.5 out of 5 stars.