It’s Friday night here at A&GS HQ, and yours truly is sitting at the keyboard. That can mean only one thing: something’s getting reviewed tonight, BISHES! The question is what, and the answer is the brand new AMON AMARTH album Berserker, which dropped today via Metal Blade Records. Did you knuckleheads really think I wouldn’t be posting my thoughts on this the very second I had a chance?!? I’m just pissed it took me this long, but hey, life gets in the way sometimes. One of my favorite Death Metal bands for over a decade now, they once again do not disappoint. I love all eras of the group, but as I’ve said before they really hit their stride with 2008’s Twilight of the Thunder God and have been knocking it out of the park ever since.
So how does Berserker measure up? Keep reading…we’re getting there, Sparky. Opening with a very calm and serene acoustic intro for 35 seconds the band then tears into “Fafner’s Gold” which keeps in line with killer record starters from these guys. Vocalist Johan Hegg makes his presence felt immediately! “Crack the Sky” is a headbanging, fist-raising mid-tempo affair that I can see wowing everyone at live shows, whether that’s in the clubs, or at an outdoor festival to a crowd of 100,000. Can’t wait to hear it live later this year! “Mjölner, Hammer of Thor” is one of the faster-paced tracks, and damn if I don’t want to raise my broadsword and cut people open. I bet many of you do too! Producer Jay Ruston really got the best out of them!!
Okay, so now we come to “Shield Wall” which is 100% my favorite song on this record and if it isn’t played live at some point I will likely put my head through a plate glass window. “Vikings, Raise the Shield Wall, Hold the Front Line, Fight Till Death!!” has got to be one of THE best metal choruses I’ve heard in a long time, and is just another example of the awesomeness this band is capable of, yeah? “Valkyria” showcases some very nice guitar interplay between Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg. Also, bassist Ted Lundström drops some sick bottom end here, and I have to say that drummer Jocke Wallgren does an outstanding job not only on this song, but all the others. A member since 2016, it’s good that he got to record his killer drum work.
Not sure about that? Check out “Raven’s Flight,” first single and all-around headbanger and neck wrecker. Wallgren is all over this one, and he complements his bandmates perfectly. The whole thing is like an M-80 going off back in my old neighborhood on the 4th of July, and it is glorious. “Ironside” is one of those tunes that will just grab you by the back of the head and slam your face into the ground repeatedly until you yield in submission as you blow blood bubbles from your nose. Now let’s talk about “The Berserker at Stamford Bridge”, shall we? Man alive, this is another favorite, and recounts the Vikings last stand against the English army in 1066 and the mind-bending heroics of one axe-wielding warrior.
“When Once Again We Can Set Our Sails” is one of those songs that absolutely needs to be in future setlists because quite frankly Hegg really nails it. So fucking good! The band is in full attack mode for “Skoll and Hati” and everyone utilizes their instruments to the fullest, especially Wallgren. Meanwhile the guitar leads are so sick they probably need penicillin. Things take off like a runaway horse with “Wings of Eagles”, and then epic, nearly seven-minute closer “Into the Dark” comes along and guides our ship home. All in all Berserker is another home run record from AMON AMARTH, a band that specializes in Home Run Records. And that’s a fact. If you don’t already own this album then there is simply no hope for you, sorry.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM