Amon Amarth live in 2011
|Genres||Melodic death metal|
|Associated acts||Eternal Oath, This Ending, Roope Latvala|
|Past members||Anders Hansson
Amon Amarth is a melodic death metal band from Tumba, Sweden, founded in 1992. It takes its name from the Sindarin name of Mount Doom, a volcano in J. R. R. Tolkien′s Middle-earth. Their lyrics mostly deal with the Vikings, their mythology and their history, leading to the band often being labeled as Viking metal. The band comprises vocalist Johan Hegg, guitarists Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg, bassist Ted Lundström and drummer Fredrik Andersson. Amon Amarth has released nine studio albums, one compilation album, one EP, one video album, and eight music videos. Their first studio album, Once Sent from the Golden Hall, debuted in 1998. Four more studio releases followed, before the band saw their breakthrough with the 2008 album Twilight of the Thunder God, which debuted at No. 11 on the Swedish album charts and No. 50 on the US Billboard 200. Two more albums, Surtur Rising and Deceiver of the Gods followed in 2011 and 2013, respectively.
The band emerged from the previous band Scum, founded in 1988 by Paul "Themgoroth" Mäkitalo (Dark Funeral) on vocals, Olavi Mikkonen on guitar, Nico Mehra (aka Nico Kaukinen) on drums, Petri Tarvainen on bass and Vesa Meriläinen guitar. All of the members were of Finnish origin or at least have Finnish family names. The band originally played grindcore based on "jagged riffs, dark atmospheres, untethered vitriol and copious amounts of mead". Scum made no impression upon the burgeoning Stockholm metal scene, but then Johan Hegg replaced Mäkitalo: it was his "imposing stature [and] [Thor]-like growl" that were beginning to shape the image and the sound of the band which now started to incorporate Viking-related themes.
After a 1991 demo (credited to Scum), the band were joined by Hegg (vocals), Anders Hansson (guitar) and Ted Lundström (bass). The band then changed their name to Amon Amarth in 1992 and recorded their first demo Thor Arise (1993). Raw and uneven in sound and execution, it was never officially released due to low quality standards, but the band caught the attention of extreme metal fans with its own "infectious brand of epic-sounding brutality and unadorned conviction". In 1994 another demo entitled The Arrival of the Fimbul Winter was recorded; this time 1,000 copies were indeed issued.
Signed with Metal Blade
They then signed with Metal Blade Records which released the debut album Once Sent from the Golden Hall. Described as "a compelling fusion of buzzsaw riff work, melodic harmonies and soul-crushing rhythms punctuated by Hegg’s callous black/death roar and accounts of Norse battles and treachery" it made sure Amon Amarth's popularity rose internationally. According to Allmusic, the song that bore the group's namesake was the most memorable, containing "the chaotic noises of battle, the screams of the dying, and much sword-clashing to boot." Since then they have done multiple Canada and US tours, festival appearances, eight music videos, and appearances in over 100 metal magazines.
In June 1998, as the band was about to commence a tour alongside Deicide, Six Feet Under and Brutal Truth, guitarist Anders Hansson left and was replaced by Johan Soderberg. After the tour Martin Lopez quit to join Opeth and Fredrik Andersson (ex-A Canorous Quintet) came in. With him in Spring 1999 the band recorded and released their second full-length, The Avenger. The release was supported by the X-Mas Massacre Festivals Tour with Morbid Angel headlining.
The Crusher, released in 2001, was considered[according to whom?] to be their most aggressive album. In support of it the band went on tour with Marduk and Vader, taking part in No Mercy Festival. Their first American tour in autumn 2001 though had to be cancelled (due to the September 11 attacks) and was held later, in January 2002, without Marduk, Amon Amarth headlining. In April 2002 the band toured Europe with Vomitory and in August performed at Wacken Open Air before 12.000 metal fans. In Berno Studio in Malmo Versus The World was recorded and came out, The Viking Edition comprising a bonus CD which included demos Thor Arise and Arrival Of The Fimbul Winter. Touring continued up until Spring 2004 when the band started working on Fate of Norns album which was released on 6 September 2004. The follow-up, With Oden on Our Side (2006), has shown (according to AllMusic) that "Amon Amarth continue to be champions of the worldwide death metal tournament" and rose to number 26 in the US Top Independent album charts. The album's material though was not included in the DVD Wrath Of The Norsemen (the song of the same title would be found in the 2011 album) which was released in May 2006, having turned gold in US (platinum - in Canada) ever since.
Renewed contract with Metal Blade
Amon Amarth extended their record deal with Metal Blade Records for three more albums. After extending their record deal, the band released Twilight of the Thunder God, which featured guest appearances by Lars Göran Petrov of Entombed, Roope Latvala of Children of Bodom, and the cello metal band Apocalyptica. Accompanying the release of the album was an eight-page comic strip based on Norse mythology which was released by magazines in Europe. Twilight of the Thunder God which is considered their breakthrough album, reached number 50 in the US, number 6 in Germany, number 10 in Finland, number 11 in Sweden, number 14 in Austria, number 21 in Switzerland. It ended up at the number 7 position in Revolver Magazine’s Top 20 Albums that year.
Amon Amarth embarked on a North American headlining tour in October 2008, with support from Ensiferum, Belphegor, and The Absence. In 2009 the band returned to the States for another successful series of dates with Goatwhore, Skeletonwitch and Lazarus AD and later in 2010 with Holy Grail and Eluveitie. In between, Amon Amarth were named "Best Breakthrough Act" at Metal Hammer 's prestigious Golden Gods Awards. The band also supported Slayer in their Unholy Alliance Chapter III European tour. Amon Amarth played their first show in India, headlining the Deccan Rock Festival in Bangalore on 5 December 2009.
On 30 November 2010, Amon Amarth confirmed their next album entitled Surtur Rising would be released in Spring 2011. The drums have been recorded at Park Studios, while bass and guitars have been recorded at Fascination Street Studios. According to the band's website, a release date has been set for 29 March in the U.S. They will also be embarking on a 4 month world tour with Children Of Bodom and Ensiferum, among others in March - June 2011.
On June 25, 2013, the band's ninth and newest studio album was released titled Deceiver of the Gods, and the band explained that the album cover depicts Ragnarök the last battle between the Æsir gods and Loki, accompanied by the army of the dead.
Amon Amarth, under their former name Scum, originally played grindcore, a fusion of extreme metal and hardcore punk. However, they then changed their name to Amon Amarth and adopted a death metal style, and the band is now usually considered melodic death metal.
The band base most of their song lyrics on Norse mythology, the Viking Age, and the pre-Christian world, themes which under-gird a heavy metal style known as Viking metal. Viking metal originally emerged in the late 1980s and early 1990s as an ideological off-shoot of black metal, made popular by such bands as Bathory and Enslaved. Amon Amarth, though a death metal band, are often labeled as Viking metal due to their lyrical themes.
In regard to the band's reputation as a Viking metal band, Imke von Helden writes in "Barbarians and Literature: Viking Metal and its Links to Old Norse Mythology" that "During the 1990s, Swedish Amon Amarth added a new dimension to the definition of viking metal by means of their death metal style of music." She further explains in "Scandinavian Metal Attack: The Power of Northern Europe in Extreme Metal" that
Though most Viking metal bands have a black metal background, Viking metal is defined by topics rather than music. That is why death metal bands like Amon Amarth and Unleashed are often included in the league of Viking metal bands.—Imke von Helden
When asked to comment on the band's genre, vocalist Johan Hegg remarked:
We play death metal. We write about Vikings so, therefore, some refer us to Viking metal, but I have no idea what that is. I can't imagine the Vikings were into metal at all except on the swords and stuff. And musically, I guess they only played these strange lip instruments and some bongos or whatever.
Hegg spoke of the band's unwillingness to be labeled and insisted that they've never called themselves Viking metal. "In our mind [this term is] very much associated with bands that come out of Norway who are playing a very black metal oriented music and that's not what we play. Sure, we have the same inspirations when it comes to the lyrical themes but musically we're a completely different kind of metal so it's tricky," Hegg added.
Hegg has also addressed the band's relationship to the pagan metal phenomenon and their choice of subject matter:
We don't really see ourselves as one of those bands doing pagan folklore music. The reason we took the Viking theme and mythology theme as a lyrical theme for the band was, perhaps, more accidental from the start. When we wrote the first song with Viking lyrics, we felt it was a topic that suited the music that we wanted to write really well...It was something different, as well, from a lot of other bands. In Sweden, I think only Bathory and Unleashed had done anything like it. For us, it was to do something different, to stand out a little bit, to use those lyrics.
- Once Sent from the Golden Hall (1998)
- The Avenger (1999)
- The Crusher (2001)
- Versus the World (2002)
- Fate of Norns (2004)
- With Oden on Our Side (2006)
- Twilight of the Thunder God (2008)
- Surtur Rising (2011)
- Deceiver of the Gods (2013)
- "Biography at amonamarth.com". Archived from the original on 2011-04-24. Retrieved 2007-02-27.
- Ankeny, Jason. Amon Amarth biography at AllMusic
- "Amon Amarth Biography". Archived from the original on 17 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-14.
- Jason Ankeny. "Once Sent from the Golden Hall". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 12 December 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
- Prato, Greg. With Oden on Our Side album review. - Allmusic.
- "Amon Amarth Charts & Awards". www.allmusic.com. Archived from the original on 12 December 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
- "With Oden on Our Side review". www.lordsofmetal.nl. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
- Metal Blade Records video. - Yohan Hegg speaking of the Surtur Rising concept.
- Amon Amarth Extend Deal With Metal Blade Records Feb 10 2008
- Phil Freeman. "Surtur Rising album review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
- Amon Amarth - Tentative N. American Tour Routing: News @ metalstorm.ee
- Amon Amarth Headline Deccan Rock 09.
- "Amon Amarth: Title, Release Date Of Forthcoming Album". Metal CallOut. Archived from the original on 27 December 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-01.
- Amon Amarth Working On New Full-Length Album metalunderground.com. 2010-11-15. Retrieved on 2010-12-02.
- Wacken Open Air 2012 Billing
- "Amon Amarth- 'Deceiver of the Gods' Album Cover". "http://www.reddit.com". April 12, 2013. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
- Patterson, Dayal (July 27, 2011). "That's Viking Talk: Amon Amarth Interviewed". The Quietus. John Doran. Retrieved October 17, 2014.
- Ramanand, Liz (February 28, 2014). "Amon Amarth Drummer Fredrik Andersson Talks ‘Deceiver of the Gods,’ Longevity + More Read More: Amon Amarth Drummer Talks ‘Deceiver of the Gods’ + More". Loudwire. Townsquare Media. Retrieved October 17, 2014.
- Laban, Linda (July 16, 2007). "Thrash-and-burn metal music feeds fans at Sounds of Underground". Boston.com. Boston Globe Electronic Publishing.
- Kahn-Harris, Keith (2006). Extreme Metal: Music and Culture on the Edge. Oxford: Berg Publishers. p. 106-107. ISBN 9780857852212.
- Tison, Pugh, Angela Jane Wiesl (2012). Medievalisms: Making the Past in the Present. London: Routledge. p. 108-109. ISBN 9781136265402.
- von Helden, Imke (2010). Scott, Niall W. R., ed. "Barbarians and Literature: Viking Metal and its Links to Old Norse Mythology". Inter-Disciplinary Press (Oxford): 258. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
- von Helden, Imke (2010). Rosemary Hill and Karl Spracklen, ed. "Scandinavian Metal Attack: The Power of Northern Europe in Extreme Metal". Inter-Disciplinary Press: 34. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
- Official website
- 9-part interview with Johan Hegg
- "AMON AMARTH Interview with Frederik Andersson", Xplosive Metal, July 2011, Jacob Laginski