AMON AMARTH: Berserker 




VIKING METAL: It’s easy to make jokes about how all their songs sound the same, but Amon Amarth’s 11 album run may be the most consistent catalog in hard rock/heavy metal. Even AC/DC and Motörhead had duds in their first dozen. Berserker does that lineage proud. Not only does it continue their winning streak, it contains some of the most devastating assaults in their illustrious career. In case you’re unfamiliar with the band, Amon Amarth plays midpaced melodic death metal with lyrics covering a vast array of topics from Vikings to Norse mythology to, uh, Vikings. And nobody writes about the helmeted Northern hordes better. Vocalist Johann Hegg knows how to paint a vivid picture of bloody battles and clashes amongst gods. You’d think he’d have run out of subjects after a hundred songs, but here he sings odes to Thor’s hammer, Valkyries, and ill-fated English invasions. “Mjölner, Hammer of Thor” hits the hardest, while Olavi Mikkonen’s shredding guitar leads on “Raven’s Flight” summon a chaotic swarm of black birds before directing them into a brutal breakdown. No surprises to be found here, but it would be folly to expect any. Amon Amarth long ago settled on a path. Whether or not you like what they do, they’ve honed their sound to a killing edge. All hail the unchallenged kings of Asgard. ~ Jeff Treppel