By Kelley Simms
A funny thing happened to me while I was speaking with AMON AMARTH’s drummer Fredrik Andersson about his band’s newest release, Deceiver Of The Gods. My phone died … in the middle of the conversation. Turns out, I had a crappy plan and my minutes had expired. Thankfully, Andersson graciously agreed to continue the interview later that day.
Since the band’s inception in 1992, the Swedish melodeath horde has perfected its 13th Century pre-Christian Norse mythology theme. As we pick up the conversation later in the day, Andersson explains that there is still a wealth of material on this subject matter to write about and that he doesn’t think the well is going to dry up anytime soon.
“It’s a very broad subject and we’re not really locked into historical events or facts,” Andersson said. “We write lyrics that are imaginative and we just make up stories that have to do with the Viking age. I think there’s an unlimited amount of stuff that we can write about within our lyrical theme.”
Deceiver Of The Gods, their latest studio release and ninth overall, is already a bonafide masterpiece. It’s what fans have come to expect from a new Amon Amarth release.
“With the last couple of albums we’ve released, we felt that we’ve explored beyond what people expect from us. It’s always going to sound like Amon Amarth no matter what we do. In the past, we’ve incorporated violins, clean vocals, clean guitars; it doesn’t seem to matter at all how much we explore ourselves. And it’s not necessarily something negative. In a way, it’s a good thing. When I buy an album by IRON MAIDEN or JUDAS PRIEST, I know instantly what it is. The bands that have been consistent earn my respect.”
Yeah, but does that create more pressure on the band knowing that the fans are expecting this tried and true Amon Amarth sound?
“It’s always a challenge to come up with new, interesting riffs and new musical angles. The goal is always to write the best riff and the best song ever. That’s always going to be a challenge within itself. It’s never been a challenge to stay true to the sound, that’s something that seems to come by itself. Sometimes we try to elaborate with the sound or go back to an old school sound, and sometimes we try something new. It seems to be a blessing and a curse.”
The songs that make up Deceiver Of The Gods are catchy and heavy. The melodies are so rich, while the riffs remain aggressive. Andersson stated that this is what they were going for from the beginning.
“When we started writing for the new album, we wanted to be more aggressive … more dangerous, for a lack of a better word for it. We felt the last one or two albums lacked a bit of aggression and brutality, so that was something we aimed for very early in the writing process. There’s more technical songs and it’s a little bit faster and aggressive when it comes to the riffing.”
Andersson’s drumming style is solid but not flashy. He knows when to inject some quick-paced fills at the right moment, but for the most part, he knows when to lay down a steady beat, all for the sake of the song.
“Like with everything we do in the band, we try to look at every song as a whole. It’s not an individual effort that matters in any part of the song. I’m just trying to put drums that fit with the vocals and the guitars. I’m basically self-taught. I’ve only been playing metal drums my whole life and never really been interested in anything else, either. I’ve always been kind of firm with my belief that this kind of drumming and metal drumming in general is not supposed to be as flashy as some jazzy drummers are, it should be more straight forward, in my opinion.”
One of the highlights on Deceiver Of The Gods is CANDLEMASS vocalist Messiah Marcolin guest spot as a duet with Hegg on ‘Hel.’ It was an experience that Andersson and his bandmates won’t soon forget.
“The song ‘Hel’ that we wrote was one of the last songs for the album, so it wasn’t really decided that he’d be on this album. When we did write the song, we felt it would be cool to try it with him. We decided that three weeks into the studio recording and it was just a last-minute call and luckily he was really into the idea and was able to come over to the studio and sing his part. It turned out really cool. When he was recording his part, we were all sitting in the control room pumping our fists like five kids with smiles on our faces!”
Being the road warriors that they are, as with any new Amon Amarth release it’s an excuse for the band to embark on an extensive world tour. And with the release of Deceiver of the Gods, the band is ready to do battle on the road.
“We did our first show in all of the year last weekend and it was really fun to be back on stage,” Andersson concluded. “That is the main reason why we’re doing this, is to perform live. We have a couple of festivals coming up in Europe, and after that some general touring plans. We’ll pretty much keep ourselves busy for the next two years by staying on the road and touring as much as possible.”
More information about Amon Amarth can be found on Amonamarth.com