Reinventing The Viking Steel – Johan Söderberg of Amon Amarth

AMON AMARTH

Swedish melodic Death Metal warriors Amon Amarth are just finishing off one final jaunt round Europe before settling down to the hard task of stirring the blood of a follow up to their beast of an album, ‘Deceiver of the Gods’ (Metal Blade). Ahead of their recent show at a packed-to-the-pulpit Colchester Arts Centre (a converted church), riff-monger Johan Söderberg took time to fill in Ghost Cult on all that is happening in their world.

“It’s fun to play a church. I played one church before in the US, so this is the second time. It should have good acoustics. Churches were built for acoustics” grins softly spoken Amon Amarth guitarist Johan Söderberg. Later on Söderberg’s head will be whirling (in synchronized fashion with his band mates) and he’ll be cranking out heavy, catchy Viking metal to a fervent crowd. But backstage before the show, the unobtrusive man is a far quieter proposition than the riff god he’ll portray from the stage.

Amon Amarth are back doing what they do best – hitting it hard on the road, this time bringing their distinctive brand of Norse warfare to a whole host of smaller venues they’ve not visited before. “It’s been an old school traditional vibe, with the audience close to us. This is what we were aiming for, to have these intimate shows and also to get out in smaller markets we hadn’t played before.”

Normally when a band announces “An Evening with…” or “Back to basics” tour, it’s because their star is waning, and the “reconnecting with the audience” schtick is a way to mask a reduced demand. Yet Amon Amarth are still riding the crest of the ocean waves, and 2013’s Deceiver of the Gods their most critically and commercially successful album to date. But there seems to be a move from several bands, most notably Machine Head to bring their music to different, smaller venues, but to play more shows, actually pulling in bigger numbers across a tour than one marquee show would. “The down side is the perception, that maybe people think we’ve lost some crowd, or something, but that’s not why we’re doing this. This is just for something different because we’ve toured all the big markets already on this album, so this is for us. This is the last tour for the album, then it’s pretty much straight into writing because I never write on the road, I write at home.

“I started writing for the album before Christmas, when we had a break on this tour. I have some ideas that I’ll be working on when I get home. Then we have the rest of the year to come up with the songs. It’s always pressure in this band. Every album we make has always done better than the one before, so it’s always the pressure that you have to perform better, and do a better album next time.”

Amon-Amarth-Deciever-of-the-Gods

And there’s the crux, Amon Amarth have managed what so few can: continuous improvement and the art of tweaking and refining and step by step enhancing and perfecting a sound without straying from it. And Amon Amarth have managed to get bigger with each album, which is quite a rarity as these days a host of bands appear in a flash of glory before being dead and buried a couple of albums later, forced to reinvent themselves.

“It’s been a very slow on the rise!” Söderberg laughs. “With some bands they go straight up, and it’s easier to drop back down, if you have a slow progression, it’s easier to stay on the up.” Do you see it as a reward for a combination of improving professionally (technically and as a songwriter) and sticking to your guns (or, rather, hammers) in terms of what “Amon Amarth” is and does? “I think so, yes. We’ve always kept our style, and while we have changed, it’s not too much.

“Even when did the mini-CD the Under The Influence album, then we really tried to do something different and sound like a song in the style of other bands, but still some fans thought these we were regular Amon Amarth songs as well. Even when we tried hard to sound different, we still sound like Amon Amarth! When the five of us play together, it sounds this way. It doesn’t matter if we try to sound like something else, it sounds like us.”

To these ears, Deceiver of the Gods was peak Amon Amarth. They’d always had the catchy and the melodic, and their trademark Norse bounce, but on tracks like five-fister ‘As Loke Falls’ they opened the door and let out the Iron Maiden harmonies and licks that had bubbled beneath the surface, but never been allowed to flood into the sound.

“I like (to listen to) more traditional music when I’m at home, like Iron Maiden and other classic heavy metal. There’s so many bands these days, it’s impossible to keep up with every band, so I just stick to the old bands that I like.

“That (traditional metal) is what we always had as our influence, but these later albums, we now let that shine through compared to the previous albums. Of course, we still want to sound brutal -it’s also been the core of the band since the start, is that we have to keep that brutal sound (but) in the past we were (worried) ‘This sounds too much Iron Maiden, we can’t use that’ but on the last album, it changed and we were ‘Fuck it. Let’s use it’; if we like it lets go for it.”

Just as the Vikings hailed the Old Gods, so too their descendants, Amon Amarth, still worship the Gods of classic metal, and if that means they continue the path trodden so well from 1998’s Once Sent From The Golden Hall (Metal Blade) to the beast that is Deceiver of the Gods, with each step a stronger and bolder one than the last, then All Hail The New Gods!

Amon Amarth on Facebook

Words by STEVE TOVEY

Amon Amarth Announce European Tour

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Sweden’s premier Viking metal five piece Amon Amarth has announced their European tour for 2015. “The Invasion” as they put it will feature dates across the continent including a full stretch of dates in the UK. The tour supporting the band’s new album Deceiver Of The Gods will also feature US female fronted power houses Huntress and UK bringers of riffs Savage Messiah.

Press Release:
AMON AMARTH announces European tour for early 2015!

Swedish heavy metal icons AMON AMARTH will be returning to Europe in January/February for a month long tour in regional UK, regional France and Spain/Portugal.

Comments the band: “UK, Portugal, Spain and France…get ready this January for a Viking invasion! We’ll be making an extensive UK expedition where we’ll be pillaging smaller clubs in virtually every nook and cranny of the country. We’re also making a more in depth raid of France, Spain and Portugal. Finally! As support on this mission we’re bringing our friends in Huntress and up-and-comers Savage Messiah. Don’t miss this awesome night of metal and we will take no prisoners!”

AMON AMARTH
+ Huntress
+ Savage Messiah
15/01/15 FR – Lille – Le Splendid
16/01/15 UK – Brighton – Concorde 2
17/01/15 UK – Plymouth – The Hub
18/01/15 UK – Bristol – Thelka
19/01/15 UK – Nottingham – Rescue Rooms
21/01/15 UK – Norwich – Waterfront
22/01/15 UK – Colchester – Arts Center
23/01/15 UK – Oxford – O2 Academy 2
24/01/15 UK – Stoke – Sugarmill
25/01/15 UK – Manchester – Academy 2
27/01/15 UK – Glasgow – Classic Grand
28/01/15 UK – Leeds – Stylus
29/01/15 UK – Newcastle – Newcastle University
30/01/15 UK – Lemmington – The Assembly
31/01/15 UK – Southampton – 1865
02/02/15 FR – Rouen – Le Cargo
03/02/15 FR – Reims – La Cartonnerie
04/02/15 FR – Nancy – L’autre Canal
05/02/15 FR – Nimes – La Paloma
06/02/15 ES – Bilbao – Santana 27
07/02/15 ES – Barcelona – Sala Razzmatazz
08/02/15 ES – Madrid – La Riviera
10/02/15 PT – Lisboa – Paradise Garage
11/02/15 PT – Porto – Hard Club
12/02/15 ES – Santiago – Captol
14/02/15 FR – Clermont-Ferrand – La Cooperative De Mai
15/02/15 FR – Strasbourg – La Laiterie

Tickets go on sale on Monday, October 20th. For tickets go here: http://amonamarth.com/tour

AMON AMARTH just recently launched their new music video, the title track to their 2013 album, Deceiver of the Gods. The video features clips from the upcoming film, Northmen – A Viking Saga, which stars Tom Hopper, Ryan Kwanten, Ken Duken, and features Johan Hegg as Valli. The film is scheduled for release this autumn. It’s no surprise, given the level of talent and eye-catching visuals of the film that this is the most remarkable AMON AMARTH video to date.

http://www.amonamarth.com
http://www.facebook.com/OfficialAmonAmarth

The Merits Of Isolation – An Interview With Amon Amarth

amonamarth2013bandSwedish melodic death metal outfit Amon Amarth is the very definition of consistency in metal today. Deceiver Of The Gods, the band’s latest album, is as solid as they come. Ghost Cult caught up with drummer Fredrik Andersson to discuss working with famed producer Andy Sneap, the merits of being isolated and how to counter stagnation as a band among other topics. Continue reading

Amon Amarth – Deceiver Of The Gods

Amon-Amarth-Deciever-of-the-GodsDeceiver of the Gods is the ninth album from Swedish melodic death metallers Amon Amarth, and after the relatively experimental flavour of previous album Surtur Rising sees the band returning to a more simplistic approach with an album that bursts out of the speakers with a furious energy more akin to their earlier output. Continue reading