Review By Monty Sewell for MPM
If melodic death metal were the veins then Amon Amarth would be the thick-set blood seeping out of every willing wound. The hammer and hell Swedish band release their 12th album, ‘The Great Heathen Army’, marking thirty years since their formation back in 1992.
Their Nordic battle cries have become legendary and continue to caw out to lands far past their own. This year, with metal studio master Andy Sneaps at the helm of this longship they have already coined the album as their best offering yet.
After the unwilling disbandment from their 2020 world tour, the bearded behemoths of metal were unscathed as they set their sights on creating a new smorgasbord of Amon Amarth alms to those who would miss out on those postponed tour dates.
So with nothing but yearning for this new age to begin, we dive back into the world of unrelenting metal poise to see what they have to offer this time…
The record opens with ‘Get In The Ring’. A rip riding roar of a track with an underground Mad Max grappling music video setting written for pro-wrestler and friend Erick Rowan. An entrance song worthy of any mammoth of a man willing to take on the most ferocious of beasts.
Following up is the title track, grabbing your skirmished soul and descending it right into the smokey depths of pillage and war. Released in July the music video has of course has already gained 1.5 million views as Amon Amarth continue their everlasting stint of pulchritudinous visuals.
Forged in the memories of the infamous Viking invasion of 865 AD, the lead guitar dances above the heavy set distortion rhythm, anchoring each chug with a bone snapping punch.
The vocal abilities of Olavi Mikkonen are as they have always been. He has the raw ability in his screams to cut through the harshness and vocalise each lyric line under a crisp light. An ode to the way of the warrior, ‘Heidrun’ is the sea-shanty of the old ages.
Amon Amarth have always been persistent in the fact that they are not – as some call them – Viking Metal – but a melodic death metal band with a mighty image.
Here we see this manifested ferociously, ’Standing together / Leave no one behind!’. It may have its historical backdrop but as metal heads, we know a good call to arms when we hear one.
‘Oden Owns You All’ combines double kick fanatics with New Wave Metal melodic breaks to create a mighty journey that enthrals. ‘Find A Way Or Make One’ eases up ever so slightly with spear cudgelling vivacity. Featuring an absolute solo highlight, it’s just the tip of this conquer or fall infused track.
‘Dawn Of Norsemen’ is a personal favourite with no hampered gregarity for Amon Amarth’s way of powerful musical draw.
In true decadence they then bring forth ’Saxons And Vikings’ featuring metal legends Saxon themselves. It’s moments like these that remind us of Amon Amarth’s thickly grown roots to the originators of heavy metal.
It works tremendously with a scream / clean vocal play off that will leave the listener begging for more historic rivalry played out through modern art in the only way music knows how.
It also begs the question: with results like this, how is it not done more?!). A perfect on the nose combination.
’Skagul Rides With Me’ is an eminence declaration on its own subjectivity that once again shows off the production that we as listeners would only expect from Amon Amarth. In the vast world of melodic death metal, Amarth have always paid so much attention to the arrangement of their compositions but by this point on the album there’s a real respectability.
Though their sound is as much them as anything that came before, on this record you can really hear the dissection of each bar prior to the final mix that ensures the writing remains off the cuff and yet so precise.
The ever anticipated juggernaught ending of any stand out metal album is brought to us in ‘The Serpent’s Trai’. Never losing momentum, never losing grip.
All in all in the words of the swedes I can truly say the album is ‘skit bra’. They’ve poured all of their Norse god goodness into a 9 track nonpareil which strikes to the heart as much as it’ll append to their monumental every expanding grasp.
The Great Heathen Army
- Get In The Ring
- The Great Heathen Army
- Oden Owns You All
- Find A Way Or Make One
- Dawn Of Norsemen
- Saxons And Vikings
- Skagul Rides With Me
- The Serpent’s Trail
Album pre-orders are available now from www.metalblade.com/amonamarth/ and feature a host of exclusive vinyl variants and must-have merch items for any self-respecting AMON AMARTH fan.
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