Amon Amarth - Berzerker Album Review [2019/Metal Blade]
About The Band
Swedish metallers, Amon Amarth, formed in 1992 from the ashes of the band Scum. After an independent release, the band signed with Metal Blade Records who released their proper debut album, Once Sent From the Golden Hall, in 1998. The band is early champions of the Swedish Melodic Death Metal movement, yet always distinguished themselves by sticking to their Viking/Fantasy-inspired themes. The band finally broke beyond the metal scene in 2008, launching their respected name into the mainstream with Twilight of the Thunder God. Since then the band has been on the climb as far as recognition goes, boasting numerous high-profile tours and growing their stage set each time. With ten full albums under their belt, they return with number eleven, Berserker.
This album is very aptly titled. “Ironside” is part traditional assault and part metal masterpiece with its pounding march and growling vocal. The lyrics really stood out to me, they are very contemplative, and almost sad, reminding us that legacy and victory come with great personal toll. “Mjolner, Hammer of Thor” is another favorite of mine. The melodic twin guitar leads that open the song walk brilliantly into the heavy gallop that lays the foundation for this anthem. The vocals strike me here, I’m not sure what is different, but they sound like a man possessed. If you don’t raise your first during this song, then I’d check your pulse.
Of course, the opening track “Fafner’s Gold” is super rad as well. Opening with an acoustic bit, it isn’t long before the band starts stomping all over the place with the brutal and melodic guitars. It’s the drumming that really pounds this song along to Valhalla though. They are relentless from start to finish! “Crack the Sky” keeps the momentum rolling with a thick groove, strong leads, and a deeper growl that explodes during the chorus as the band cries out to Thor to rescue them. The epic, doomier, “Into the Dark,” endcaps it all by focusing on the heavy and punishing rather than the anthemic aspects that drive most of the rest of the album. It’s a definite journey and more dynamic than a lot of the other songs.
While I have always had a strong affinity for Amon Amarth (I came on board with Versus the World in 2002), I have had trouble really getting into the last few albums. As their success grew, my interest waned, but this album, Berserker, is a beast. The songs are more varied, the leads are the strongest they have ever been, and that growl is better than it has ever been. Berserker makes you want to chug a beer, grow your beard, and raise your leather-studded fist high in the air.