Amon Amarth started out as a death metal band called Scum that existed between 1988 and 1991 before rebranding themselves and replacing a few key members to form the beginnings of the band as it is today.
Describing themselves as “melodic death metal”, the band have an extensive history having released ten studio albums and, despite the heavy grind of touring, still retain three original members. Now, we see what comes forth in their latest and eleventh full-length release, ‘Beserker’.
Kicking off proceedings, ‘Fafner’s Gold’ starts off like a fabled tale told at an inn with natural acoustic guitar riffs before it’s struck asunder into flaying guitar riffs and pounding rhythms that, combined with the guttural utterances of Johan Gagg, tell the tale of the hunt for legendary treasures.
Death spiralling into the fray, ‘Shield Wall’ thunders in on a grinding rhythm section of snares and toms delivered by Jocke Wallgren before the dissonant guitars join in the macabre scenery set out in the lyrics signalling the call-to-war. This is a welcome change in direction from the fantasy and mythical beginnings, showing that the band is able to expand their horizons to darker realms.
Delving into tech metal complexity and speed metal riots, ‘Raven’s Flight’ ratchets up the intensity in a flurry of tapping guitar riffs and riling breakdowns that further ups the ante and showcases the arsenal of weapons that the band have at their disposal.
Setting sights on the open ocean, ‘Wings Of Eagles’ deals with the torment of the first explorers adventuring on the seas to new lands. Backed by thrashing guitars, death metal chords, and interchanging rhythms, it creates the atmosphere of valiant discovery.
Rounding out the narrative, ‘Into The Dark’ is a progressive culmination of the parts displayed in the previous tracks combined with a slower demonic pace to ensure focus still remains on the lyrics of inner confrontation and self-reflection.
While there are little highlights and brief forays into different genres, the majority of focus is held in the lyrics creating a story rather than experimenting or introducing different instrumental elements that make ‘Berserker’ enjoyable though a little long in the tooth.