AMON AMARTH - Berserker
May 3, 2019, 16 days ago
The Swedes continue the pattern of the last decade, issuing a great album after a so-so effort. Jomsviking pales in the light of its Deceiver Of the Gods predecessor and now comes Beserker, to once again put the viKINGS back on their pedestal. Some might balk at the accompanying literature avoiding any allusions to “melodic black metal”, even going to far as to proclaim this Amon Amarth 2.0, allowing them to “give ourselves the space to explore other parts of our musicality.” Fear not! Although it begins with lone acoustic guitar, “Fafner's Gold” is a full blown, aggro song, not just an intro. Utilizing a Norse myth (Fafnir), as well as classical composer Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen opera (Fafner), it recounts a tale of greed (depicted as a dragon).
Second single “Crack The Sky” was a safe choice, residing in the slightly elevated, rollicking mid-tempo to which fans are accustomed. OK, burly vocalist Johan Hegg is still bellowing like a Viking chieftain deprived of mead, but “Mjölner, Hammer of Thor” might be the most conventional (clickety-clack Teutonic) metal number of Amon Amarth's career. Damn catchy! Historically accurate account, the blood-pumping “Shield Wall” is simply punishing. “Valkyria”, with a brief bass spotlight, is a mid-tempo stomp: a tale of deeds, similar in scope to “Runes to My Memory”. And yes, it does end with lone piano! Also of interest is “Ironside”, where, for a brief moment, Hegg opts for restrained, a cappella singing, in stark opposition to the bellicose delivery throughout the body of the work. “Raven's Flight” was the first single, an out of the gate stormer. Come the chorus, the guitar interplay riding an Iron Maiden inspired run.
Just when it seems like there's been too many mid-tempo sing-alongs in a row, post-”When Once Again We Can Set Our Sails” mouthful, comes speeding, gruff voiced “Skoll and Hati” although this too has a (albeit brief) refined, guitar mid-section. “Wings Of Eagles” tells of leaving Greenland, cultivating and eventually abandoning colonization of North America. The concluding “Into The Dark” might be the hardest for longtime fans to digest, what with its piano and orchestral strings intro. Otherwise, at 6:48 (the longest, by far, the only eclipsing six minutes), it's a slow, mid-tempo plod.
Sandblast your previous Mount Rushmore of Amon Amarth classics, this is destined for most annual Best Of recaps, for sure!