Amon Amarth embark upon their 12th full-length The Great Heathen Army, another chapter in the band’s melodic death metal laced with enough Viking history to make Eric the Red blush. These Swedes are a polished machine 30 years into their formation with albums like With Oden On Our Side, Versus The World and Twilight of the Thunder God already to their credit, all of which are modern death metal classics at this point.
The album begins with the potent message of “Get In The Ring.” Powerful drums sound the battle cry before Johan Hegg begins his aural assault calling for the next warrior to enter the fray with him. Continuing with the story-telling motif, the title track describes how fraught the lands in Europe were while constantly besieged by those of horned helms from the north as the masses unfortunately sat idly by as their lands were gobbled up in the late 9th century.
The lyrics of “Two hundred ships set sail, A massive Viking fleet, This quest will never fail, Our army doesn’t know defeat, So make your final stand, Father, brother, son, Your death is soon at hand, You will be overrun” paint an accurate description of assured desolation. The guitars throughout the album do a good job of playing to each song’s story, but work best when you feel as though the band has successfully broken through a front and starts to overrun their opponents.
A nice addition to the mix is the appearance of Saxon’s Biff Byford on the aptly titled “Saxons and Vikings” where Hegg’s large growls are juxtaposed against Byford’s more traditional delivery making for the feel of an epic battle from the perspective of both sides.
Overall Amon Amarth continue to churn out quality albums in a manner like the most consistent bands out there, not having to do much different than before, yet the level at which the music is delivered still feels fresh. Their best album since Twilight Of The Thunder God, The Great Heathen Army shows that the band still has a lot left in the tank.
(released August 5, 2022 on Metal Blade Records)
Heavy Music HQ Rating:
Watch Amon Amarth – “Get In The Ring” Video