Amon Amarth’s tour in support of 2019’s Berserker album was cut short by the pandemic, though that doesn’t mean they’ve spent the last two years twiddling their thumbs. The longships reappeared in February when the Swedish icons released the single Put Your Back Into The Oar, and they’re now hard at work on album 12 with producer Andy Sneap.
With more updates teased on their socials this week, we held an axe to the throat of singer Johan Hegg to get him to spill the beans.
Amon Amarth have a signature sound: melodic death metal themed around Vikings. Will the new album tap into that once again?
“In many aspects, there are songs on this album that are darker and a bit more brutal than anything we’ve done in a long time. But you’re going to hear that it’s Amon Amarth, and there are a lot of really strong melodies and hooks in there. It’s gonna be interesting to see what the fans think; personally, I love it. It’s the direction I wish our previous album had taken.”
Are the lyrics darker as well?
“It’s possible. I write the lyrics, and I write the ideas that I get from the music. I would say that, musically, probably a lot of frustration and anger goes into the writing. The lyrics are going to reflect that in one way or another.”
To what extent did the pandemic drive that frustration?
“I actually welcomed the pandemic. I wanted to have some time off for a while, because it was relentless touring. The first year of the pandemic, I was basically not doing anything. I think for other members of the band it was a different situation. It’s not really something we’ve talked too much about, but I can imagine some people being a little bit more frustrated about not being able to tour than I was.”
Are there any standout moments on this album that you can’t wait for the fans to hear?
“I can think of three or four off the top of my head. There are some songs that I feel are close to my heart because of the lyrics. The last song of the album has a melancholic, sombre tone. It’s a bit more reflective and it’s going to be interesting to see what people take away from it.”
Put Your Back Into The Oar won’t appear on the new album. Why not?
“It was supposed to come out a bit earlier, one of those Covid releases, just to do something while we were working on the album. We wanted to put something out there for the fans to let them know that we’re still around.”
That track’s inspired by the Viking rowing that happens at Amon Amarth shows. What’s the best example you’ve seen of that?
“The first one was Bloodstock in 2009. That was basically people sitting in line and ‘rowing’ through the field. I think one of the best ones we’ve got is on our live DVD, The Pursuit Of Vikings, from Summer Breeze Open Air [in 2017]. Thousands of people just sat down and rowed!”
Do you ever get sick of writing lyrics about Vikings?
“It depends. I was working on lyrics for one of the songs on this album and I was like, ‘This really sounds familiar.’ Then I realised it was basically the same story I’d written for another song on another album, just in a different way. When you write about mythology and history, obviously a lot of stuff is going to sound the same, but that was just too close. I had to start over.”
What kind of timeline can you give us for the new album?
“It’s somewhere on the horizon. That’s pretty much all I can say. The goal is to have it out this year, but with the pandemic situation, you never know.”
You’ve got a UK tour with Machine Head in September. Will we hear new songs from you on that run?
“Yeah, I’m sure we will toss some in there. It’s gonna be a great tour!”
Amon Amarth’s new album will be released later this year via Metal Blade.