Published May 01, 2019Amon Amarth ascended to metal godhood long ago. Having formed in 1992, the release of 2008's Twilight of the Thunder God saw the band trade in their frosty leather armour for fine furs and gold, moving toward a sound that emphasised strong, triumphant riffage and bombastic songwriting. Their latest release is very much in that vein, and features some of their strongest material since.
Berserker is aptly named because this album is fucking exploding with energy. The objective is clearly to get your blood pumping and your head banging. You feel it right from the start, with the opening track "Fafner's Gold," a true Amon Amarth banger. The chorus is an absolute rush, due in no small part to Johan Hegg's ferocious death growls. It sets the tone for the rest of the album, which offers choice cuts of melodic death metal goodness. Immensely satisfying melodies akin to New Wave of British Heavy Metal are woven into galloping riffs and blast beats on songs like "Valkyria" and "When Once Again We Can Set Our Sails."
The band also slow things down with some grim tracks to grow your beard to, such as "The Berserker at Stamford Bridge," a sombre march urged on by duelling guitars, and some solid drumming from newcomer Jocke Wallgren. There's a few dynamic breaks in this album as well, such as Hegg's spoken word vocals in "Ironside," probably best experienced in a firelit tavern over a frothy horn of beer. It all comes together to create the atmosphere that is so essential to a good Amon Amarth record.
There are a couple less-than-memorable tracks, like "Wings of Eagles," that have a hard time standing out, especially with this record's almost hour-long runtime. Regardless, Amon Amarth have crafted Berserker with such heart that it will surely stand out among their already storied career. (Metal Blade)