HEAVY REVIEWS: BLAZIN’ THROUGH AMON AMARTH’S BERSERKER
[A Special Note to the Reader]: Here at Heavy Grass, we like to practice what we preach. That being said, take these reviews with a grain of salt. We smoke HEAVILY for the entire process of these reviews and it’s ALWAYS Heavy Grass.
Last time I checked, cannabis still holds the illegal status in Sweden, so I thought it would be quite fitting to blaze through a review of Amon Amarth’s latest album, Berserker. On the menu is Heavy’s Super Silver Haze strain–fantastic if your aim is to amplify your mood and get shit done in the process. Both of which I do daily.
Berserker, which was released via Metal Blade Records and Sony Music May 3rd, joins Amon Amarth’s roster of studio albums as the band’s first album featuring drummer Jocke Wallgren. (Now, tell me you don’t hear that double bass!) The album was produced by Jay Ruston, who has worked with Steel Panther, Stone Sour, and Anthrax. (Probably why it sounds so dope!)
As anyone who listens to Amon Amarth knows, there is a very strong Viking tie to their music. You see it, you hear it, and you sure as hell feel it! Due to this fact, I gave this album a thorough listen from start to finish about 6 or 7 times. The reasoning is simple: the complexity of this music requires it… especially when you’re stoney baloney like I was and still am? Anyways, it is important to firstly listen to the music as a whole. Really take in all those blast beats Jocke Wallgren is pummeling into his kit (Listen to “Shield Wall” and you’ll get what I mean). Feel the thunderous roar of Johann Hegg as he sets the mood for “Skoll and Hati” and explore Olavi Mikkonen arpeggio city in “When Once Again We Can Set Our Sails” as Johan Söderberg chugs away.
1. “Fafner’s Gold” 5:00
2. “Crack the Sky” 3:49
3. “Mjölner, Hammer of Thor” 4:42
4. “Shield Wall” 3:46
5. “Valkyria” 4:43
6. “Raven’s Flight” 5:20
7. “Ironside” 4:30
8. “The Berserker at Stamford Bridge” 5:13
9. “When Once Again We Can Set Our Sails” 4:24
10. “Skoll and Hati” 4:27
11. “Wings of Eagles” 4:03
12. “Into the Dark” 6:48
Once you really take all the sound in and enjoy the music for what it truly is, it’s time to re-pack the bowl and listen for the lyrics. Since the album has been out for about a week now, I wanted to dive a little more into the subject matter of Norse mythology and Viking lore… Now, I’m not an expert on the subject, but I did sit through several seasons of Vikings and The Last Kingdom, so I have a very basic understanding.
Now, Vikings did have a written language. We know this because of their usage of runes, but the Vikings didn’t have time to sit around and write shit down. They propagated their history and culture through the spoken word, hence music. If you listen closely to Amon Amarth’s music, you can experience Viking culture and history first hand albeit with a death metal twist.
Here’s a couple of tracks off Berserkerthat really stood out for me:
Shield Wall is probably my favorite off the entire album and I wouldn’t be surprised if this track becomes the next subject matter for a music video. In the breakdown, you can feel Ted Lundström’s bassline rattle the floor as Hegg begins the line “A chain is never stronger than its weakest link” that is immediately followed by a short, yet melodic guitar solo. But more than that, this song is about solidarity. The shield wall is possibly one of the oldest military tactics around. On the battlefield, an army cannot exist without the support of the person to the left and right of you. This mentality can be applied to time spent at a concert seeing Amon Amarth, for example. Once you get in that mosh pit, the rules are pretty simple. If someone falls down, you pick ‘em the fuck up and continue on your way. Live by that rule always.
“Skoll and Hati”
Johann Hegg’s roar sets up the story of Sköll “treachery” and Hati “hater,” two wolves who were the inseparable children of Fenrir, the most famous wolf in Norse mythology. When Fenrir was bound, his loyal children tried many times to free their father from chains. Their efforts were interrupted when Odin put the wolves to work in the sky as a way to keep the sun and moon on schedule. In an act of defiance, these two wolves were set in pursuit of the sun, Sol, and the moon, Mani, in hopes of devouring them during Ragnarok, the final battle between gods and powers of evil. If they were to succeed, the two wolves would be freed from their restless task. (To learn more, click here.) Just like these two wolves, don’t see your situation as dire straits. If you’ve got the drive, you can do whatever the hell you put your mind to. If not, there’s always weed.
While there is much to explore on this album regarding ancient lore, I will say this: music is meant to be experienced and what better way to do that than to go a fucken rock concert? See below tour dates to catch Amon Amarth live before your very own eyes!
Amon Amarth will be touring North America this fall. Catch these Viking warriors at a city near you!
09/26 – Seattle, WA @ Showbox SODO
09/27 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
09/28 – Vancouver, BC @ PNE Forum
09/30 – Edmonton, AB @ Edmonton Convention Centre
10/01 – Calgary, AB @ Grey Eagle
10/03 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
10/04 – Denver, CO @ Fillmore Auditorium
10/06 – Minneapolis, MN @ Skyway Theater
10/07 – Chicago, IL @ The Riviera Theater
10/09 – Toronto, ON @ Rebel
10/10 – Montreal, QC @ M Telus
10/12 – New York, NY @ Hammerstein Ballroom
10/13 – Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore
10/15 – Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore
10/16 – Atlanta, GA @ Tabernacle
10/18 – New Orleans, LA @ The Fillmore
10/19 – Houston, TX @ House of Blues
10/20 – San Antonio, TX @ The Aztec Theatre
10/22 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Van Buren
10/23 – Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues
10/25 – San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield
10/26 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Palladium
Words by Dez