In The Lord Of The Rings saga Amon Amarth is the wonderfully titled Mountain Of Doom. On the metal scene, the same name is a Stockholm-based death metal-turned Viking band.
Following 1993's Thor Rise and 1994's The Arrival Of The Fimbul Winter demos, both of which were recorded at Studio Lagret, the band signed to Singapore's Pulverised Records and released the Sorrow Throughout The Nine Worlds EP. The EP was recorded at Studio Abyss. Kaukinen would soon depart in favour of Lopez. The band then moved up to Metal Blade Records where despite some line-up changes things have been upwardly mobile ever since. Once Sent From The Golden Hall was recorded at Studio Sunlight. Nevertheless, the band, unsatisfied with the tones, finished the production at Studio Abyss.
Following the recording guitarist Anders Hansson left and was soon replaced by Johan Sorderberg. Lopez soon defected to Opeth and was replaced by Guidance Of Sin's Andersson.
The Swedes played at the Wacken Open Air in 1999. Amon Amarth further performed at the 2002 edition of Wacken Open Air festival before entering Studio Berno to record Versus The World. A limited edition of this album would feature demo songs as bonus material. Also featuring a German victory March this edition would be dubbed Viking Edition by band and label. The Swedes toured the USA at the beginning of 2003 with Deicide. The band later cancelled its appearance at the 2000 Decibels Festival in Bengtsfors, Sweden. Fate Of Norns was issued in late summer of 2004. On May 2nd, 2006 Amon Amarth released a 3-disc DVD called Wrath Of The Norsemen. The DVD Wrath Of The Norsemen reached gold status in Canada four months after release. Amon Amarth re-signed with Metal Blade Records for three albums at the beginning of 2008 and entered the studio in May in order to record a new full-length. The band announced four shows at Zeche in Bochum, Germany in December, 2008 using the Bloodshed Over Bochum monicker where the band would play one of its first four albums in its entirety each night. The group would also incorporate several new songs from its 2008 album Twilight Of The Thundergod. The band was also touring America with The Absence in the autumn. Sweden’s This Ending – featuring Amon Amarth drummer Fredrik Andersson - completed the recordings for its second album, Dead Harvest in late 2008. Metal Blade would release it on February third, 2009. In the midst of the band’s European tour opening for Amon Amarth, bassist Mike Alexander of thrash metal band Evile fell ill and was transported to the hospital. He died on Monday October 5th in Luleå, Sweden. He was 32 years old. Amon Amarth bassist Ted Lundström would miss the first three shows of the band's North American tour in May of 2010. Steve Drennan of Engel would take his place. Amon Amarth would release its eighth studio album, Surtur Rising, on March 29th, 2011 through Metal Blade Records. It was recorded at Fascination Street Studios in Örebro, Sweden with Jens Bogren. Amon Amarth announced a 2011 U.S. headlining tour. Simply dubbed An Evening With Amon Amarth, the trek would find the band touring without support and instead performing two separate sets each night. One set would feature the album Surtur Rising in its entirety. The tour started mid-April. Munster, Indiana's Three Floyds Brewing Company produced the Amon Amarth Ragnarök beer which was available in the summer of 2011. Amon Amarth celebrated its twentieth anniversary with five shows in August of 2012 in Germany, Poland and Holland. The band was to play songs spanning its entire career.
AMON AMARTH - VERSUS THE WORLD - METAL BLADE
Swedish rising stars Amon Amarth are a study unto themselves. They mix aggression with melody successfully where others fail. While retaining a core death metal sound, thick and chunky riffs and powerful rhythmic vibrations, the quintet boosts its melodic tract thus injecting a modicum of accessibility into the fray which would normally fail a band of this genre. The songs are wholly interesting and varied and the band collectively at the top of its game. The sound is exactly as it should be (love the distorted bass and snare sounds in particular), all credit to Berno Studio (Seance, Deranged, etc.) for delivering an effective crunch of metal while retaining the many nuances that the guys from Amon Amarth insist upon in their sound. Versus The World is recommended without hesitation - not bad for a band considering throwing in the towel as recently as last year! - Ali "The Metallian"
Amon Amarth is an angry band. If the new album's title, namely Versus
World, does not testify to the fact, how about how the band's alternate
choice was calling the album The End? The band had pondered calling the
album The End and simultaneously throwing in the towel. Thankfully the
Swedes are still with us and with the release of their new album have a
lease on life. Singer Johan Hegg along with bassist Ted Lundstrom,
Frederik Andersson, guitarists Olli Mikkonen and Johan Soderberg make
band. Hegg calls Metallian Towers and speaks with Ali "The Metallian"
the band and the new album. - 06.12.2002
Hegg calls from the American offices of Metal Blade where he is
week participating in the label's twentieth anniversary celebrations
also speaking with various media representatives about the band's new
Versus The World. So, are the Metal Blade employees posers with short
hair?"... not really," replies my interviewee after a slight
continues laughingly, "actually most people here are females...
With Versus The World the Swedish heavy metallers have undergone a
course correction and introduced more melody than ever before into the
musical proceedings. Amon Amarth has often been termed Viking metal.
the new elements in the music, one wonders whether the term is still
relevant. "Actually we never really said that we were Viking metal,"
points out. "We always called ourselves death metal. Viking metal is
something that the label has made up, alongside journalists and people
reviewed our albums. Viking metal, to me, is like Enslaved, Einherjer
Bathory. It's more black metal-oriented. We sing about Vikings and the
mythology, but our music is melodic death metal."
Yet, there is no denying that the band's web site greets the visitors
the picture of a Viking. "I mean our lyrical inspirations come from the
Vikings," the singer is quick to admit. "It is not something that we
any way. I don't really care if people call us Viking metal. It's just
for me, it's not correct.. I don't really care about it."
Still, even if the band's style is better described as melodic death
the new album might justify a change in that label. Hegg picks up on
theme. "We wanted to do something different. Our previous albums, The
Avenger and The Crusher, were pretty similar. We wanted to do something
is different. We wanted to do a more melodic and more epic album. On
other hand, we didn't want to compromise the trademarks that make us
Amarth: the aggression, the heaviness and stuff like that. I think we
managed to incorporate those into the music and still develop a more
sound. We wanted to change, but within the frameworks we have set up
ourselves. It's something that might attract more people of course, but
have hopefully maintained our integrity!"
Furthermore, and on the same topic, Amon Amarth is seeing the release
so-called 'Viking Edition' of Versus The World. It does not sound like
ideal approach to getting away from the Viking tag. Hegg is rather
philosophical and laughs while explaining. "Actually, you are not going
believe it, but it's the guys from Metal Blade in Germany who are
responsible for that. They came up with the idea of calling the bonus
version of the CD the 'Viking Edition.'"
Speaking of the limited edition version of Versus The World, fans might
interested to know that it features a German song. Hegg also speaks
German himself. "We have translated the song Victorious March into
There are two reasons for it," expands the Swede. "We were discussing
material for this album when we were drunk! We were sitting in the tour
having a discussion and getting more and more drunk. Then I popped the
to redo Victorious March in German. We did that because we have a large
base in Germany - it's almost home ground for us. So it's for them.
also just for fun, you know, just a stupid thing.
"I studied German at school," continues Hegg who incidentally speaks
English which is another way of saying his command of the English
is better than most native speakers. "I studied for four years. I don't
speak it very well, but had help translating the song from the Metal
Shifting the line of questioning the singer is next quizzed about the
title. It reminded this writer of Napalm Death's Enemy Of The Music
Business. "In a sense that is what it's about," confirms my
have been around for ten years now and have had our ups and downs. We
sort of looking back at our career. We have had to fight really, really
to survive in this business. It deals with that.
"It's being upset, it's more about reflecting on our career," expounds
Amarth's spokesman. "Looking back we've had our equipment stolen, we've
problems with people who think we are racist or neo-Nazis - which is
bullshit - and we almost got thrown off a tour once! That was probably
own fault, I guess, for we were too drunk. Shit like that always
mean when we were recording 1995's Once Sent From The Golden Hall the
completely fucked things up for us. We had to go into a new studio to
the album. We have had many set-backs, but then again we have been
to be on Metal Blade."
In other words, the band's indignation is not caused or aimed at the
company. "No, definitely not. We are happy with Metal Blade."
Are you saying that because Metal Blade boss Brian Slagel is sitting
you? "Yeah, he is right here holding a hammer (laughs)."
Still on the topic of the album's name, Hegg is reminded by this writer
the title was originally announced as The End. Things change as the
explains. "That was actually true," he remembers, "that was the working
name. We were fed up with everything last year. We told ourselves
a fast album and then fuck it all.' We were thinking of making this our
album. You go through these periods where you think everything's
you. It also is another reason for the album title. We were thinking of
quitting, but after doing a tour in America and another one in Europe
noticing our new material - we thought it's good material - we decided
take this as long as it will carry us. So we signed for three more
with Metal Blade.
"I don't know what pushed us over the edge at that time," Hegg replies
asked for more detail. "We were bored. We were bored with rehearsing
times a week, we were bored with everything and to do tours and not
money and not be able to pay bills when you are home can be very
On the other hand, that's one of the things that changed our mind. We
such a great time on the tour that we realized that this is what we
do. We said 'it's worth a shot.'"
Speaking of touring, wasn't your North American trek cut short early in
2002? "What happened is that we arrived in the USA and were supposed to
for Marduk," Hegg takes up the story. "Marduk didn't make it and we
headlining a three-week North American tour. We did shows in Toronto
Montreal in Canada and then we didn't know if the final shows would be
cancelled. Then the promoter said the last week is cut. As far as I
the local promoters on the West Coast were only interested in the
package with Marduk. They didn't want to pay for us only! That was not
problem for us. We were happy to do the tour anyway."
Another change for the band was not recording at Abyss Studio. The
instead opted for Berno Studio. Hegg explains that, "Peter Tagtgren is
and does not produce that much anymore. He has his own bands, Pain and
Hypocrisy, and he was unable to take us on when we needed to be in the
"We were thinking of using his studio, but with his brother Tommy
engineering. Then we figured 'what the hell, let's change the studio
altogether.' Having heard some of the stuff coming out Of Berno Studio
decided to try it out. We were a bit nervous, because we were very
comfortable at Abyss - it was sort of a second home for us."
What does the singer have to say about the notion that, similar to many
other Berno productions, Versus The World features a higher-than-normal
vocal mix? "With the last album we thought the vocals are a bit low in
mix," remembers the front man. He relates "we wanted the vocals to be
this time! I never really thought about it that way though. What I know
that Studio Berno uses very advanced technology. It was unbelievable to
the clean and harsh voice I could get. The microphone was unbelievable.
Peter and Abyss Studio have good stuff, but Berno was using, like, an
thousand Dollar microphone for the vocals of a death metal band.
"The microphone was a hand-crafted, transistor one with its own
It was a numbered microphone made in Denmark. I think the brand is
Next the chat veers to the more specific and addresses the songs. We
how the compositions have become more melodic and eventually the
put before the singer about the extent of melody Amon Amarth is willing
incorporate into its music. We all know the slippery-slope theory. The
singer does not mind addressing the concerns put before him."It's not
something we are planning. We are not planning to get more melodic. We
it one album at a time. The next album might be more brutal again - it
depends on the ideas we have.
"What the future will bring, I have no idea. I feel that we could get
more melodic. As you say though, there is a certain point where (if we
become too melodic) we wouldn't be Amon Amarth anymore. We have certain
rules which we have set up for ourselves. We try to follow them as much
we can. It's a thin line. One shouldn't cross that line too much. We
want to go too far from our original intentions, but it's very hard to
what the future will bring."
In contrast the title track has a very heavy rhythm storming through
that a distorted bass that one hears? "Are you asking me about the song
writing?" exclaims Hegg demonstrating a penchant for humour. "I mean,
bass is more eminent on this album anyway, but I don't know for
How about the song Where Silent Gods Stand Guard, which stands out for
relative calm of the music in contrast to the violence of the lyrics.
song is different from anything we have done before," Hegg answers.
not a typical Amon Amarth song. I came up with the idea to write lyrics
are the the opposite of the music - which is soothing. It's the story
Viking serial killer basically. It definitely does not suit the music
it's different. I started writing the lyrics before I heard the song
then I figured I will use it here!"
Your sister Christina Hegg has contributed lyrics to the song Thousand
Of Oppression. "She has liked my lyrics for the previous albums," is
Hegg begins telling the story. "She wrote me an e-mail titled something
My Interpretation Of Things. It was written in English because she
Canada, Vancouver actually. She always writes me in English and I
in Swedish. Anyway she sent me the story and once I read it I felt that
said exactly how I felt about things. I told her I want to use them as
lyrics and she told me to go ahead. We made some minor alterations and
it to music.
"I have credited her as the lyricist and have told her to set herself
Again changing the direction of the conversation, Hegg is asked about
musical past. Has he been involved in any previous bands, other than
Amarth or its predecessor Scum? Seems the man is not very Scandinavian
this regard. "Scum started out in 1988 and when the second guitar
left and we got a new rhythm section we changed the name to Amon
There have been no projects in which I have participated.
"You see, I never had that many metal friends. When I went to high
came in contact with Scum. When I graduated from high school I joined
band because they heard me scream like hell, you won't believe this, to
Europe's The Final Countdown! We were on holidays in Greece and the
was playing at the bar. They were like, 'man this guy can sing.' I was
"We are currently working on a North American tour for March. After
are going on tour in Europe in April. Then hopefully we will return to
America again after that. We are also hoping to start working on a new
and to make it come out fairly quickly. We want to keep this ball
With that Hegg is off to speak with another interviewer. In the
Versus The World is available at better record stores!
Amon Amarth has become synonymous with Sweden’s Viking past and, as
such, it’s sort of appropriate that the band is now developing into a
force in North America. Much like their Viking forefathers’ discovery
of the North American continent, Amon Amarth is successfully
traversing to our shores, all the while gaining a strong legion of
followers. Amon Amarth’s latest album, With Oden On Our Side,
received unanimously positive reviews and the group’s first DVD,
Wrath Of The Norsemen, recently went Gold in Canada. Ergo, what
better time to speak to Amon Amarth vocalist Johan Hegg than now? -
By David Perri – 21.12.2007
METALLIAN: Amon Amarth is back for a second round of touring in North
America. How is it treating you guys?
HEGG: It feels good, it feels good to be back. It’s great to finally
be doing a headlining tour here. We haven’t done a real one ever.
We’ve just had some accidental ones. But it’s the first time for
real. It’s been going really well over all, and it’s been fantastic
on the east coast. But the crowds have been really great every show
we’ve done. It’s been a killer tour.
METALLIAN: Are you surprised by the strong reaction you’ve been
getting in North America?
HEGG: In a way, no. We’ve been working really hard. We’ve been on the
road a lot over here. And this is one of the goals we’ve had, to be
able to do this and get this type of response. It’s always satisfying
to feel that support when you come over, especially after the tours
we did with Children Of Bodom and Sounds Of The Underground… we felt
that we had something good going on. Those tours pushed us really
METALLIAN: A lot of bands say that if you tour hard in North America
you really see the results, as opposed to maybe Europe where the
results aren’t as immediate.
HEGG: Definitely. I think that touring is imperative in North
America. In North America definitely, traditionally you’ve had to be
on the road all the time. You’ve got to be on the road constantly
here to gain a following.
METALLIAN: What are the goals for Amon Amarth at this point? What are
you trying to accomplish?
HEGG: We never look too far ahead. We want to be a headlining band
everywhere of course, but we want to do different stuff. We’re going
to Australia in January and that’s going to be cool, and we’d like to
go to South America and Japan. Those are small goals we have, but
we’ll see when it’s possible to do those things. But they’re
definitely things we want to do.
METALLIAN: And do you guys have any specific goals for the next album?
HEGG: We’re going to Australia and when we get back we’re going to
record new material. Hopefully we’ll be able to record and release
the album next year. But it depends on how fast we work and get the
album together. We don’t have anything right now, just some basic
METALLIAN: Is the success you’re going through now inspiring you in
the writing process?
HEGG: Yeah, when things are going well you get inspiration from that
and pushes you to keep going. It hasn’t always been like that of
course, but this is what we want to do and what we’ve dreamt of all
these years. We want to keep going for another couple of years at
METALLIAN: The band has a lot of Viking imagery, and the band is very
rooted in the Vikings. Are you ever surprised that it’s connecting
with North America audiences? The Vikings are more of a Scandinavian/
Northern European tradition.
HEGG: We’re not really surprised. The stories themselves are pretty
general, and they’ve got a lot of stuff in them that people can
relate to. Even though there’s a lot of Viking imagery and themes in
the songs, some of the songs are actually quite contemporary. I use
Viking imagery as a metaphor for things going on in my life or life
in general or the world in general. I guess in a sense the songs are
quite easy to get into. If you just like the story, then you just
like the story but if you want to find a deeper meaning you can find
one somewhere in there. But it’s not meant to be obvious.
METALLIAN: So you’re saying that maybe the themes in your lyrics are
HEGG: I think a lot of people can relate to what I write. We hear a
lot of people who come up during the signing sessions say our songs
help them. This guy in Vancouver said that Versus The World helped
him get through college, and that’s awesome.
METALLIAN: Where does your passion for the Vikings come from? Have
you always been interested in them?
HEGG: It’s been more or less since I started reading about it in
school, when I was nine or ten. I got really interested in it.
Unfortunately, you only get to scrape the surface on this subject in
school. You don’t get to dig deeper. I had to read up on it on my
own, and it’s been an interest of mine for a very long time. Also, my
older sister is very much into it, so that helped to develop my
interest, as well.
METALLIAN: Being from Sweden, what role has Scandinavia played in
shaping Amon Amarth?
HEGG: We’ve never really though of ourselves as a Swedish band as
such. We’ve never said, ‘Now we’re going to be like In Flames or now
we’re going to be like Entombed.’ We didn’t want to make it in
Scandinavia in the first place. We always wanted to make it abroad.
And now we’re also making it in Scandinavia which is great, but that
was never our goal in the first place. We felt the market was not big
enough. So for us, we never really thought of it as us being a
METALLIAN: As a Swede, do you ever have nostalgia for that early ‘90s
Sunlight Studios scene? Y’know, Entombed, Grave, Dismember…
HEGG: (laughs). That’s sort of when I got into the death metal scene,
during the early ‘90s. But I was pretty late into it. I was into old
Metallica, Slayer, Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden, Motorhead and bands
like that. Maybe some people have more nostalgia when it comes to the
bands you mentioned. Entombed and Dismember are great. The first
Dismember album is great. Entombed is obviously a classic band. It’s
cool to see they’re still around and touring. They lost a couple of
members along the way, but they’re still going on. I meet the guys
every now and then, especially LG (Petrov, vocals). We root for the
same hockey and football teams in Sweden, so we meet each other at
the games every once and a while.
METALLIAN: The hockey part is very Canadian, I can relate (laughs).
HEGG: We’re big hockey fans in Sweden, too (laughs).
METALLIAN: Valhall Awaits Me, from the latest record With Oden On Our
Side, is one of the strongest songs on the album. What was happening
around the writing and recording of the song?
HEGG: The song is very aggressive and I had some ideas that I wanted
to work with. I wanted to have a song about a Berserk, like a real
Oden’s warrior. So it had to be very intense. The music had to be
intense and the lyrics had to be intense, too. The lyrics are maybe
30 seconds of the guy’s life. He’s killing one guy, and then he’s
killing another guy. And then he gets killed. That’s what it is
(laughs). But I wanted to make it very intense, and very fast but
describe the whole scenario. I wanted to get the meaning across. The
Berserkers, they were fearless. They saw themselves as Oden’s
warriors, so they were totally fearless. They thought that when that
their time came, their time came. So they didn’t fear death. They
just accepted that death was a fact. I wanted to portray that, the
sort of fearsome brutality. He loses his shield, and instead of
protecting himself he grabs another weapon and he goes two-handed.
That’s what I wanted to do with those lyrics, to portray that
aggression. And I think it worked pretty well. (laughs)
METALLIAN: You mentioned death, and you also deal with death in
another way on the record with ‘Runes To My Memory’. What are your
thoughts on that track?
HEGG: The way it came about is actually kind of weird (laughs). It
was something I wanted write for a long time, but never really knew
how. Then I read an article in a science magazine about Vikings going
on the rivers of Russia down to Constantinople, which is Istanbul
today. The article was about Viking burial. When a Viking died, they
wouldn’t transport the body back home. If it was a chief, they would
build a ship for him and set it on fire and push it out to sea. If
that wasn’t possible, they would build burial mounds. So there are
literally hundreds of burial mounds in Russia for Swedish Vikings who
went that way. Some also have rune stones carved. That gave me the
idea to do the song. It gave me a good angle, and I think it worked
out really well. The idea also started taking form when my
grandfather died. I guess I got a lot of inspiration from that, too.
It was inspiration to write the lyrics. So you take inspiration from
METALLIAN: In terms of Vikings and Oden and that kind of thing, what
place does that have in your life on an everyday level when you’re
away from the band and away from touring?
HEGG: I’m not a religious person, I don’t really believe in religion.
But on a more philosophical level, I would say that the gods aren’t
up there in the sky. They’re more in here (note: points to his
chest). You feel them. They represent something in all of us, and
it’s something we all possess. We all possess the wisdom of Oden, we
all possess the rage of Thor, we all possess the bravery of Tyr and
we all possess the deceitfulness of Loki. We all have those
trademarks, because we’re human. The way I look upon it is that if
you follow the Viking way of thinking, you treat your friends and
family with a lot of respect. You stand by your word and you treat
people with respect. But also, you don’t take shit from anyone. If
someone’s giving you shit, you say ‘Fuck off’ (laughs). But it’s more
like a way of life, a way of thinking.