Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Label: Metal Blade Records
As Amon Amarth were getting bigger and bigger approaching larger audiences, better contracts were signed, bigger venues were booked, bigger tours were planned as their sound was moving to more traditional patterns flirting with Heavy Metal; always given under an epic and pagan prism. Surely trying keeping the quality high wasn’t an easy job especially when new fans were gathering mostly from the new direction, but Amon Amarth managed to balance quantity with quality. Nevertheless now on their 12th studio album release they wisely chose to return to their roots. Melodic Death elements were always there of course, but it looks like they dive into the days just before major success hit their door (not their early or the demo days ok…even though mid-90’s/early-00’s were also successful for the Swedes too) and the final result is brilliant. Forget the catchy but too Heavy “Berseker” as now we are back to 2008-2009 era were their name was becoming big one in commercial terms and you got “The Great Heathen Army” that works like the follower of “Twilight of the Thunder God”. As I mentioned before their fans is a mix of old school and new ones that came the last decade in the band’s fan base so Hegg & co knows how to please them both. Songs like “Saxons And Vikings”, which features a guest vocal appearance from Saxon’s legendary frontman Biff Byford, can do this job easily. I couldn’t agree more with their frontman Johan Hegg which performance here is brutally great: “Musically, I would say there are a couple of surprises on there, a little bit of uncharted territory for Amon Amarth. Overall it’s one of the heavier albums we’ve made. There are some dark and heavy songs that are really powerful and in-your-face, but we obviously have some trademark Amon Amarth songs on there as well, and a few surprises. It’s a really well-balanced album.”
The album lacks of innovating elements, yet all the ingredients that made their sound so personal and unique are here. It has several catchy moments and born to be singles tracks “Get in The Ring”, “Heidrun”, “Dawn of Norsemen” and the aforementioned “Saxons And Vikings”, and a couple of ok, yet typical of their sound like “Find a Way or Make One” and “Dawn of Norsemen”. No one will be disappointed by “The Great Heathen Army” that will convince their loyal fan base and probably will bring more new ones to the Viking hordes, still I expected more from one of the strongest cards on Heavy Metal.