Review: Amon Amarth – ‘The Great Heathen Army’

Bar the occasional one of their well-known songs, and a thorough listening of ‘Twilight of the Thunder God’, I am admittedly pretty new to Amon Amarth, but ‘The Great Heathen Army’ is one hell of a place to get thrown in. It starts big, loud and powerful, and stays that way until the very end of the album, backed all the way by Johan Hegg’s intense growl and the heavy melodies that call back to their roots as a melodic death metal band. The album is heavy, flush with Viking mythology, and takes pride in leaning all the way into that gimmick.

This is all the more apparent in one of the album’s standout tracks ‘Saxons and Vikings’, in which the band are joined by Saxon’s Biff Byford, in a vocal battle between the aforementioned Saxons and the titular Great Heathen Army of Amon Amarth, that’s punctuated by impressive riffs – from both vocalists, and guitarists Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg. ‘Heidrun’ provides a break from the brutality of the album early on, with a lighter-hearted tale of a mythical mead goat, accompanied with similarly upbeat, melodic guitar riffs.

The opening track of the album, ‘Get in the Ring’, was written to be the entrance music for the wrestler Erick Rowan, and the theming is obvious. The presence of a violent altercation is mirrored through much of the album and it makes sense, whether you think about it in regards to a Viking battle or in regards to a wrestling match.

The heavier tracks ‘Oden Owns You All’ and ‘Find a Way or Make One’ are balanced well, with the dynamic guitar riffs metering out the brutality of Hegg’s vocals, both serving as fantastic Viking anthems with the aim to get you ready for a battle. The final track of the album ‘The Serpent’s Trail’ is partly spoken word, which serves it greatly as a lead out to the end, even more so with the final moments of the song itself, which crescendos with triumph, before fading out on a repeated riff.

Overall, the album is consistent and memorable, and quite clearly well-produced. While it isn’t anything particularly new when it comes to their sound, it’s still a very solid album, with a handful of interesting surprises throughout.

Review – El

‘The Great Heathen Army’ is available now through Metal Blade Records.

Catch Amon Amarth on their co-headlining tour with Machine Head very soon. Full dates run as follows:

Thu 8th Sept – NOTTINGHAM – Motorpoint Arena
Fri 9th Sept – CARDIFF – Motorpoint Arena
Sat 10th Sept – LONDON – The SSE Arena, Wembley
Mon 12th Sept – MANCHESTER – AO Arena
Tue 13th Sept – DUBLIN – 3Arena

Fri 16th Sept – ZURICH – Hallenstadion
Sat 17th Sept – VIENNA – Stadthalle
Sun 18th Sept – KRAKOW – Tauron Arena
Tue 20th Sept – TALLINN – Saku Arena
Wed 21st Sept – HELSINKI – Ice Hall
Fri 23rd Sept – OSLO – Spektrum
Sat 24th Sept – STOCKHOLM – Hovet
Mon 26th Sept – COPENHAGEN – Forum Black Box
Tue 27th Sept – HAMBURG – Barclays Arena
Wed 28th Sept – FRANKFURT – Festhalle
Fri 30th Sept – OBERHAUSEN – König Pilsener Arena
Sat 1st Oct – BERLIN – Velodrome
Sun 2nd Oct – AMSTERDAM – Afas Live
Tue 4th Oct – MILAN – Lorenzini District
Thu 6th Oct – BARCELONA – Sant Jordi
Fri 7th Oct – MADRID – Vistalegre
Sat 8th Oct – LA CORUNA – Coliseum
Sun 9th Oct – LISBON – Campo Pequeno
Wed 12th Oct – PARIS – Zenith
Fri 14th Oct – MUNICH – Olympiahalle
Sat 15th Oct – LEIPZIG – Arena
Sun 16th Oct – PRAGUE – Tipsport Arena
Tue 18th Oct – BUDAPEST – Barba Negra
Thu 20th Oct – ESCH SUR ALZETTE – Rockhal
Fri 21st Oct – BRUSSELS – Forest National
Sat 22nd Oct – STUTTGART – Schleyerhalle

More information here.

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