Amon Amarth - Berserker review



Reviewer:
N/A

207 users:
7.92
Band: Amon Amarth
Album: Berserker
Release date: May 2019


01. Fafner's Gold
02. Crack The Sky
03. Mjölner, Hammer Of Thor
04. Shield Wall
05. Valkyria
06. Raven's Flight
07. Ironside
08. The Berserker At Stamford Bridge
09. When Once Again We Can Set Our Sails
10. Skoll And Hati
11. Wings Of Eagles
12. Into The Dark


I enjoy myself so much when metal "connoisseurs" shit on popular bands. I mean, it's cool to be blasé towards something so many others like, isn't it? I'm glad I don't belong to this "enlightened" group of metalheads because, even though I love the underground and do believe that metal thrives because of it and is dead without it, I let myself appreciate the goods that catchiness and melody have to offer.

Amon Amarth are now one of the biggest metal bands and they have achieved this by delivering an almost completely unchanged Viking-themed melodic death metal product for more than twenty years. Critics argue that if you've listened to one album by them, it's like you've listened to their whole discography. This is more or less an accurate statement but, in my mind, it's irrelevant. If the music is good, sticking to the same formula is fine with me.

However, Amon Amarth did try to shuffle the cards with this record ever so slightly. For the first time they begin an album with acoustic guitars (I can hear Metallica's "Battery", how about you?) in "Fafner's Gold", which progressively evolves in what can be recognized as a quick-paced Amon Amarth classic. They dive deep into Iron Maiden territory with duelling guitars in "Mjölner, Hammer Of Thor" and "Raven's Flight". In fact, many of the solos in Berserker unashamedly mirror the British legends. On "Ironside" we briefly hear Johan Hegg's clean vocals, but this only proves that he should stick to the growls. "When Once Again We Can Set Our Sails" is a 70s-influenced curveball. The epic closer "Into The Dark" is a very emotional track with a dark intro and outro played with piano and strings.

Of course, it's not like Amon Amarth are a different band. "Crack The Sky" is just one of these ultimate gym songs with a riff that will remain stuck in your head for days. The battle-preparing drums, the crushing bass (note to reader: overall, the bass sound is the best the band has ever had), the bloodthirsty riffs, and the chorus of "Shield Wall" will make sweated metalheads go nuts at gigs and sum up why this band is so popular among us. "The Berserker At Stamford Bridge" has a great heroic story to back up the thrilling, heavy and slow-burning music. And "Wings Of Eagles" will surely motivate your lazy ass so as to work faster and build a boat for Ragnar Lothbrok.

It's true that the band's attempts to innovate are few and far between and this album will not exactly catch you off-guard, but you must take into account that they didn't have to push the envelope at all. It's also true that Amon Amarth have become more accessible with years passing and now even your annoying 15-year-old sister might like them. At the same time, even though they did try to add never before used elements in Berserker, 57 minutes is too long for any music that bears little variation. But hey, look at the positive side; more runtime means that the beard on your speakers (or headphones) will grow longer while playing this.

"Thor!
Let your hammer fly
Let the lightning crack the blackened skies"


 



Written on 04.05.2019 by I was into this music when you were still in diapers.


Comments

Comments: 28   Visited by: 420 users
04.05.2019 - 07:23
Bad English
Masterchief
Nice band, lyrics, thema and all around this band. Amazing. I like underground in my genres but often big bands are great. Next week i will listen this.
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04.05.2019 - 09:39
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
I feel personally attacked by this relatable content
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Take off those stupid glasses and kiss me
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04.05.2019 - 13:05
nikarg
Old Nick
Written by RaduP on 04.05.2019 at 09:39

I feel personally attacked by this relatable content

You shouldn't. I am not referring to you in any way and you know it.
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04.05.2019 - 13:11
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by nikarg on 04.05.2019 at 13:05

Written by RaduP on 04.05.2019 at 09:39

I feel personally attacked by this relatable content

You shouldn't. I am not referring to you in any way and you know it.

Guess I should double down on my snobness
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04.05.2019 - 16:02
Dinruth
"If the music is good, sticking to the same formula is fine with me."

Wise words! I haven't heard the album yet, but your introduction is just too true with so many bands .. a lot of people on MS seem to have a distaste for catchiness in riffs and I don't get that..
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04.05.2019 - 16:44
traililya
Great!
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04.05.2019 - 16:47
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
I'm actually curious to if Amon Amarth would ever do another "Under The Influence" EP, that was one of the most surprising thing they did, and with the supposed Iron Maiden influence here, I wouldn't not expect to see one Iron Maiden track on there, maybe some Scorpions and Entombed ones as well.
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04.05.2019 - 17:31
nikarg
Old Nick
Written by Dinruth on 04.05.2019 at 16:02

a lot of people on MS seem to have a distaste for catchiness in riffs

Not the majority though, as the MS Top-20 of every year suggests
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04.05.2019 - 17:38
nikarg
Old Nick
Written by RaduP on 04.05.2019 at 16:47

I'm actually curious to if Amon Amarth would ever do another "Under The Influence" EP, that was one of the most surprising thing they did, and with the supposed Iron Maiden influence here, I wouldn't not expect to see one Iron Maiden track on there, maybe some Scorpions and Entombed ones as well.

I agree. "When Once Again We Can Set Our Sails" in this album has so much Rainbow and Thin Lizzy in it. I think it's the track I like most as well.

Btw, there is another band that covered both Scorpions and Entombed in their recent album. This review is also on its way.
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04.05.2019 - 20:42
Ball Fondlers
Written by nikarg on 04.05.2019 at 17:38

Written by RaduP on 04.05.2019 at 16:47

I'm actually curious to if Amon Amarth would ever do another "Under The Influence" EP, that was one of the most surprising thing they did, and with the supposed Iron Maiden influence here, I wouldn't not expect to see one Iron Maiden track on there, maybe some Scorpions and Entombed ones as well.

I agree. "When Once Again We Can Set Our Sails" in this album has so much Rainbow and Thin Lizzy in it. I think it's the track I like most as well.

Btw, there is another band that covered both Scorpions and Entombed in their recent album. This review is also on its way.

Exumer!!!
Do I win?
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04.05.2019 - 21:03
nikarg
Old Nick
Written by Ball Fondlers on 04.05.2019 at 20:42

Exumer!!!
Do I win?

Yep
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04.05.2019 - 22:18
flightoficarus
Stamp Tramp
Better than Jomsviking, but still found it ruthlessly boring. There were a few good songs towards the end, but I was literally falling asleep every time I listened to the first half.
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04.05.2019 - 23:58
bitethepain
Into The Dark might be in my top Amon Amarth songs. Great lyrics too
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05.05.2019 - 12:26
fenchik
Good album! Better than Jomsviking for me too! Love "When Once Again We Can Set Our Sails" and "Ironside"! Should be a top 10 album this year!
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05.05.2019 - 17:30
Dinruth
Written by nikarg on 04.05.2019 at 17:31

Written by Dinruth on 04.05.2019 at 16:02

a lot of people on MS seem to have a distaste for catchiness in riffs

Not the majority though, as the MS Top-20 of every year suggests


alright, let's call it "a lot of the people who are more vocal in the forum"
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05.05.2019 - 18:36
nikarg
Old Nick
Written by Dinruth on 05.05.2019 at 17:30

Written by nikarg on 04.05.2019 at 17:31

Written by Dinruth on 04.05.2019 at 16:02

a lot of people on MS seem to have a distaste for catchiness in riffs

Not the majority though, as the MS Top-20 of every year suggests


alright, let's call it "a lot of the people who are more vocal in the forum"

I can't object that. Btw have you heard the album yet? I've linked Metal Blade's YouTube LP stream in the last sentence of the review.
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05.05.2019 - 19:17
s_t_s
While I don't feel targeted by your attack on "connoisseurs", as a first time Amon Amarth fan I just feel bored with their last releases. Jomsvking was their first album that left me cold up to mid album... Where are the vikings that used to make me feel like I was one myself ? Sure we all have grown older being only a bit younger than the singer yet this is no excuse to say that their energy is gone. Haven't listened to the full album yet, not a bad album undoubtedly, but so far I haven't found any trace of this energy lost with Jomsvking... Maybe the end of an era and also maybe the first time I don't buy an AA album.
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05.05.2019 - 22:48
Discordant666
While I like a few songs, it still continues the watered down sound of their "viking death metal" to the new "heavy metal overlords" (that the press-release reads nowadays). It just doesn't sound as powerful or exciting anymore, the opening track proves it just by the way the electric guitars comes in after the "Battery" acustics... insteed of a "BOOM!" its a "splash". Production is definitely a problem, and so is the drums. Fredrik Andersson was the man, he brought power and groove which is now lacking.

But as negative as I seem, I still enjoy it to some level. And will continue to give it a few listens atleast, there are some gems. Specially at the second half of the album, which is unusual for modern AA albums.
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06.05.2019 - 19:41
Starvynth
i c deaf people
Mixed emotions here.

I've never really been a big fan of Amon Amarth so my expectations weren't that high, but at least, there've always been at least one or two outstanding songs on any of their previous albums.
But where are the killer songs now? Where is stuff like Legend Of A Banished Man, Runes To My Memory, Where Silent Gods Stand Guard, Thousand Years of Oppression or Cry Of The Black Birds?
I do like Into The Dark - but the rest? I really don't know...

I still believe it's an okayish album, somewhere between bland, mediocre, enjoyable and good, but I am very sure this will never be considered to be one of their better or even classic albums.

Why?
Because of the weak songwriting. For me, most songs are a "listen and forget" experience.
I wouldn't mind the implied catchiness, though - if there were any. I mean, for me catchiness does only work in combination with good songwriting. Without it, it will sound flat and lifeless or at worst even primitive.

And because of the drumming. It's uninspired and powerless and probably the weakest AA drumwork so far.

But the biggest problem is that they have lost a due portion of their bite. Everything is watered down so much that you can hardly still call it Melodeath, some songs are nothing but Power Metal with harsher vocals.
Talking about the vocals: Hegg tries to do some clean singing and some spoken word passages.
He should really stop trying and he should stop it NOW.

The lyrics are a joke - as always. It's the same old story of viking honour, nordic legends, blood, steel, war, death - like Manowar or Sabaton, sometimes even worse.
But the digipak comes with four pages of 'historical' information concerning the album's title, origin of the term 'Berseker', etc. Basically, it's just common Wikipedia knowledge but neverthelesse, this might be an interesting read for people who are still praising their 'great lyrics'.

But it's not all bad.
On Jomsviking, they started to experiment with some traditional Heavy Metal influences and here, they extended this attempt. I do like this part of the direction they are taking* and the general intent to evolve a bit.
(I don't really like how it has been carried out but that's another story)

Above that, most songs are to some degree enjoyable, all of them are at least bearable and some few are even very good. In comparison to 80% of nowadays album releases, that's not even a bad outcome...


* After all, Heavy Metal is not the worst influence. It could be worse, far worse...
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06.05.2019 - 19:53
Dinruth
Written by nikarg on 05.05.2019 at 18:36

Written by Dinruth on 05.05.2019 at 17:30

Written by nikarg on 04.05.2019 at 17:31

Written by Dinruth on 04.05.2019 at 16:02

a lot of people on MS seem to have a distaste for catchiness in riffs

Not the majority though, as the MS Top-20 of every year suggests


alright, let's call it "a lot of the people who are more vocal in the forum"

I can't object that. Btw have you heard the album yet? I've linked Metal Blade's YouTube LP stream in the last sentence of the review.

I've bought it today and gave it a first spin. I'll doubt that it gets into my favourite five AA albums, but who knows ..
I commented on the section of your review not because of my opinion on the album, but mainly because I feel that your statement was true ona general level in many cases.
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06.05.2019 - 22:40
nikarg
Old Nick
Written by Starvynth on 06.05.2019 at 19:41

a lot of fair points

You should really start writing reviews mate.
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07.05.2019 - 07:13
Moon Presence
Laughed at your first paragraph. So true.

Nice review
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07.05.2019 - 18:49
thornh
I'd really like to know what the commentors who claim that this album "has no energy" and similar comments actually listen to that does have energy. Berserker is in the top tier of AA albums with influences from all of their previous releases. And, it has tons of energy.

Back in the day I was a big Metallica fan (meaning I'm as old as the guys in Metallica so they were very relevant when I was a youth). As the years progressed I would have given anything if their later albums sounded anywhere near as good or consistent as their first four. Never would I have thought that And Justice for All would be their last really good album. Amon Amarth gets shit for doing exactly that. Well, I'm an Amon Amarth fan because I like the way they sound. They have stayed consistently good to great throughout the years and I appreciate it. They have worked their way up from the underground and made it. Good for them.
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07.05.2019 - 22:50
s_t_s
Written by Discordant666 on 05.05.2019 at 22:48

While I like a few songs, it still continues the watered down sound of their "viking death metal" to the new "heavy metal overlords" (that the press-release reads nowadays). It just doesn't sound as powerful or exciting anymore, the opening track proves it just by the way the electric guitars comes in after the "Battery" acustics... insteed of a "BOOM!" its a "splash". Production is definitely a problem, and so is the drums. Fredrik Andersson was the man, he brought power and groove which is now lacking.

But as negative as I seem, I still enjoy it to some level. And will continue to give it a few listens atleast, there are some gems. Specially at the second half of the album, which is unusual for modern AA albums.


I also thought that drums were not as powerful as they used to me. Glad to hear I'm not the only one sharing the feeling.
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08.05.2019 - 03:27
Starvynth
i c deaf people
Written by thornh on 07.05.2019 at 18:49

I'd really like to know what the commentors who claim that this album "has no energy" and similar comments actually listen to that does have energy. Berserker is in the top tier of AA albums with influences from all of their previous releases. And, it has tons of energy.

Back in the day I was a big Metallica fan (meaning I'm as old as the guys in Metallica so they were very relevant when I was a youth). As the years progressed I would have given anything if their later albums sounded anywhere near as good or consistent as their first four. Never would I have thought that And Justice for All would be their last really good album. Amon Amarth gets shit for doing exactly that. Well, I'm an Amon Amarth fan because I like the way they sound. They have stayed consistently good to great throughout the years and I appreciate it. They have worked their way up from the underground and made it. Good for them.

There's a lot of truth in your saying and the Metallica reference is very plausible.
Thinking about my old favorite bands, I can't deny that quite a bunch of them have miserably failed to preserve their greatness through the years. In fact, some of them have been sucking for many years now, with no end in sight.
Bands change their style, settle for short-term trends, they fail and they disband, it's the course of things.
To sum up, I find it very difficult to state more than a dozen bands with at least five consequitive albums that turned out very well.

But Amon Amarth have not performed a massive shift in style. They have just released their 11th album and I wouldn't call any of their releases bad. I didn't even consider Jomsviking to be a bad album and neither is Berserker.
So if we are talking about consistency, you are damn right.

But "tons of energy"? I really don't know...
I am not saying that they've lost all of their power, but the drumming is an issue. The worsened drum sound is hard to miss and without a strong rhythm section, building up a punching, powerfull sound is almost impossible if you ask me.
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11.05.2019 - 17:24
s_t_s
Written by thornh on 07.05.2019 at 18:49

I'd really like to know what the commentors who claim that this album "has no energy" and similar comments actually listen to that does have energy. Berserker is in the top tier of AA albums with influences from all of their previous releases. And, it has tons of energy.

Back in the day I was a big Metallica fan (meaning I'm as old as the guys in Metallica so they were very relevant when I was a youth). As the years progressed I would have given anything if their later albums sounded anywhere near as good or consistent as their first four. Never would I have thought that And Justice for All would be their last really good album. Amon Amarth gets shit for doing exactly that. Well, I'm an Amon Amarth fan because I like the way they sound. They have stayed consistently good to great throughout the years and I appreciate it. They have worked their way up from the underground and made it. Good for them.


Well mister old monkey I must be about as old as you are (45 precisely) and the more I get into this album the more I am convinced that it lacks the energy that made their other albums so great to listen to ! Agree that this album is much better than Jomsviking and it inject a lot of interesting touches such as acoustic parts, clean voice YET it just doesn't appeal to me... It doesn't make me want to headbang or get an axe and break a few skulls into dust (that is a joke of course).

As for modern albums filled with energy I could name The Burning Cold by Omnium Gatherum, Following The Beast by Gormathon or even all albums by Wolfheart. Good I found about new bands because as far as I am concerned I am over with Amon Amarth (do I need to remind that I actually own ALL of their albums?).

One again, not a bad album but I don't manage to get into it. They have chose a way that doesn't fit me. Period.
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18.05.2019 - 08:19
Teravolt_Danny
The opening paragraph of this review should be pasted on the top of MS's home page for time and all eternity.

As for this album... I guess I'm apparently the only soul on earth who enjoyed Jomsviking more? This isn't a bad album, but there just aren't as many songs that appeal to me here. It probably belongs somewhere in the 6.9-7.5 range.
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18.05.2019 - 13:40
Starvynth
i c deaf people
Written by Teravolt_Danny on 18.05.2019 at 08:19

As for this album... I guess I'm apparently the only soul on earth who enjoyed Jomsviking more? This isn't a bad album, but there just aren't as many songs that appeal to me here. It probably belongs somewhere in the 6.9-7.5 range.

You are not all alone.
I've never been a big fan of Amon Amarth, so I accepted Jomsviking for what it is: the first attempt of AA in years to try something new and to leave their well-trodden and secure paths.
I mean, a duet with Doro Pesch - that must have been an affront to many of their old fans. But detached from Amon Amarth's history and their well-known style, "A Dream That Cannot Be", "First Kill" and "The Way Of Vikings" is some really good stuff, regardless of genre barriers.

But I just fail to see the same level on Berserker. It's not a bad album either, but most tracks are just too trivial to stick in my mind.
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