Band: Amon Amarth
Label: Metal Blade
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Release Date: May 3rd, 2019
We have probably all heard of viking metal. The phrase conjures images of long-haired, bearded Germanic dudes in chainmail and leather shredding guitars. Amon Amarth is one of the most prominent bands to spring from this so called “Viking Metal” scene. Originating from Sweden, they are usually classified as a melodic death metal band from a musical standpoint (I wouldn’t consider Viking metal to be a real genre, since it is based on lyrics rather than actual musical traits, but that’s a whole other topic). Founded in 1992, Berserker is their eleventh album.
Anyone who has listened to Amon Amarth’s discog could say that they’ve been sticking to more or less the same formula for their nearly thirty year run. Berserker is no exception, filled with the usual growls, heavy instrumentals, and Viking/Norse themed lyrics we have come to expect from the band. But hey, their previous albums are all at least solid, so why mess with a good thing?
However, this doesn’t mean that the band has just been churning out carbon copies of the exact same music with every album. We still find them dipping their toes in the pools of experimentation. The opening track Fafner’s Gold starts with acoustic guitars, something that we rarely see with Amon Amarth, before transitioning into a more familiar sounding metal instrumental. The song Valkyria closes out with a piano outro, something I don’t recall Amon Amarth doing before off the top of my head (feel free to let me know if I’m wrong). Another track that stands out stylistically is Ironside. We hear Johan sing with clear vocals in the bridge of the song, another something that’s very rare with Amon Amarth.
The band still sticks to their usual formula for the most part though. This album contains the same growls, galloping pace, and death metal style riffs and blast beats we’ve come to expect from Amon Amarth. The obligatory songs of Viking heroism such as The Berserker at Stamford Bridge and Raven’s Flight, and verses of the deeds of Norse gods such as Mjölner, Hammer of Thor are present on Berserker. The second track, Mjölner, Hammer of Thor, is a storytelling song of a Nordic legend, reminiscent of previous Amon Amarth songs such as War of the Gods. When Once Again We Can Set Our Sails is another one of the bands countless tracks romanticizing the glorious Viking past. Most of these songs sound like they could be any generic song from any Amon Amarth album from the past few years. Unlike their previous album, Jomsviking, Berserker is not a concept album, which I am personally grateful for, since it frees them from the burden of forcing the album to fit into some sort of coherent story. However, their lyrical themes have not evolved on this album and keep to the same themes and motifs as all their previous albums.
Overall, Berserker is a pretty solid Amon Amarth album. The quality of the songs remain pretty consistent, and there aren’t really any real lulls. However, I must say that there weren’t many mind-blowing moments either. In all honesty, most of the songs sound generic enough that they can come from any Amon Amarth album in the past decade or so. Sure, there is a bit of experimentation with acoustic guitars and pianos, but overall it still feels like a fairly generic Amon Amarth album. Of course, as I said before, whatever works works, but I feel that Berserker, doesn’t add much that’s new to Amon Amarth’s discography. Still, if you are a fan of the band, definitely give it a few spins.
- Fafner’s Gold
- Crack the Sky
- Mjölner, Hammer of Thor
- Shield Wall
- Raven’s Flight
- The Berserker at Stamford Bridge
- When Once Again We Can Set Our Sails
- Skoll and Hati
- Wings of Eagles
- Into the Dark
Total Playing Time: 56:45