takes their name from a fictional volcano in a Tolkien novel. They have been around for well over twenty five years, put out eleven albums and toured the world quite actively. So they have worked hard to become one of the most famous bands in the melodic death metal genre. Their twenty thirteen release, Deceiver of the Gods
, rocked out mediocre. They borrowed some riffs from classic British heavy metal bands and combined them with their own brand of melodic death metal. Then their twenty sixteen album, Jomsviking
, was just okay in my opinion. It was lighter with more of a Gothenburg style of melodic death metal. There were textures similar to Hypocrisy
and In Flames
. This new CD, Berserker
, comes in a cardboard digipac arrangement. The album art depicts a fearless warrior who is wearing a bearskin head dress. The booklet vividly describes the Berserker
s as an elite Viking
force, with maniacal aggression and a determination to slaughter their enemies.
The first song, Fafner’s Gold, commences with elegant acoustic guitar picking. After forty seconds, suspended power chords break in, with short shuffling drum arrangements and a dramatic electric guitar melody. It soon shifts to a choppy rhythm, as the lead guitarist slices and dices at medium speed. The vocalist growls and yells out his lyrics in a deep grim voice. “Regin forges more than swords and blades, in his smithy schemes and plans are made!” “There is vengeance to be claimed, to this cause his fate is chained!” Soon the lead guitarist plays a flowery melody at a fast pace, which is accentuated by the flutters of the double bass drums. The instrumentation alternates between the two textures at an accelerated pace. Vocalist Johan Hegg has been with the band since ninety two and has performed on all eleven of their albums. He is now forty two years of age. His vocals are usually growled in a grim voice, using a macho persona with rough and gruff presentations. He works the range of his voice with occasional screaming and yelling.
Lead guitarist Olavi Mikkonen is a founding member of the band and has performed on all eleven of their albums. He is now forty five years of age. Rhythm guitarist Johan Soderberg joined the band in ninety eight after Anders Hansson quit. He has performed on ten of the band’s albums and is forty six years of age. There is some intricate tremolo picking and fancy stutter notes with a Nordic flair. Occasionally there is some moderate shredding and grinding with rugged riff shifting. Sometimes they play delicate squealing notes and almost glittery high note guitar work. The fourth track, Shield Wall, starts with fast high note grinding from the lead guitarist. The bass notes saunter in along with shuffling drum work. The lead guitarist plays a quaint tremolo melody as Johan joins in with a casual grim voice. “They have gathered on these plains, prepared to meet our steel.” “All their efforts are in vain, we will make them kneel.” Then the tremolo picking becomes even more intricate and soon converts to a choppy rhythm, with strong bass lines at a medium tempo.
The eighth number, The Berserker
at Stamford Bridge, begins with a mild high note guitar riff at a slower tempo. The rhythm guitarist soon joins in and the drummer shuffles assorted beat tone patterns. Johan gingerly growls out his lines. “The English stood on the hill, caught off guard we had to retreat.” “The river cold and wide, lay at our feet.” About halfway in the intensity picks up a couple of notches with short grinding licks, followed by suspended wailing notes as the drummer strikes down harder. Towards the end there is a catchy guitar hook and the vocalist growls his lines with more strength. “On the bridge we met his axe, while he stood none could pass.” “His axe cut deep through flesh and bone, he held the bridge all on his own.” Bassist Ted Lundstrom replaced Petri Tarvainen in ninety two. He is forty five years old and has performed on all eleven of the band’s albums. The bass music usually goes inconspicuously with the flow of the compositions. The heavier bass lines often coincide with the drum work and frequently appear toward the conclusion of the tracks. Sometimes there is fast artistic note plucking, occasional chugging and some prolonged hang time with the power notes.
Tobias Gustafson quit the band in twenty sixteen, but he only performed on Jomsviking
. So the new drummer is thirty four year old Jocke Wallgren from October Tide
. His full name is Joakim Antonio Wallgren and he is a native of Santiago, Chile. There are a lot of shuffle patterns and a few stutter beats, but usually nothing too flashy. Occasionally there are some some snare drum flare ups and fast double bass drum action, which is used sparingly. The drumming activity is unpredictable, on some songs it is mediocre and it shows more pizzazz on others. The last song, Into the Dark
, starts out with slowly played piano bars and gentle violin music. Then a soft squealing guitar lead joins in and the bassist lethargically merges into the sleepy composition. The vocalist soon appears with restful growling. “There is a darkness in my soul that can’t be tamed.” “A vile corrupted entity that has no name.” The guitarists soon weave out a light melody, as the drummer taps away and beats the bass drums. It is a mild ballad with epic textures that resemble Hypocrisy
, although it does sound somewhat similar to Shield Wall.
It seems as though people either hate or love Amon Amarth
. Many fans are loyal to them and some critics rip them for a cookie monster/cookie cutter sound. They regularly perform at major festivals and night clubs in smaller cities to win over thousands of new fans with their Viking
gimmick. Their twenty thirteen CD, Deceiver of the Gods
, hit number nineteen on the Billboard Top 200 Chart. In twenty sixteen, Jomsviking
, also hit nineteen on the same chart. This time, Berserker
, has sold quite a bit less at number forty seven. The performance of the new drummer was about the same quality as the previous drummer on Jomsviking
. However the sixteen year veteran, Frederik Andersson, was at a higher skill level than both of them. Berserker
had some heavy metal textures with influences from Iron Maiden and Running Wild
. It also had some slower melodies with a folksy European style that are played repetitively both on this album and also by many other artists on their albums. The compositions aren’t very original and lack innovation. As a whole it sounds like Twilight of the Thunder God
s combined with Deceiver of the Gods