Amon Amarth
The Great Heathen Army

Ho hum, album number 12 from these now fully established scene veterans, who have blown up in one of metal’s most consistent and best-selling acts. And if past logic shows us anything this should be a better Amon Amarth album based on the band’s affinity for good, then not as good, then good then not as good releases, etc, as Berzerker was merely Ok, and it’s predecessor, Jomsviking was solid.

The Great Heathen Army was sending out mixed signals from the get-go with both rumors of a more ‘nasty’ and death metal sound, a post apocalyptic, not very Viking-themed video for the first  single “Get in the Ring”, and some of the worst t cover art the band has had (c’mon guys, you follow Berzerker up with THAT? Like self-titled albums, bands on their own album covers is just lazy in my humble opinion). So is The Great Heathen Army one of Amon Amarth‘s good or not-so-good albums?

The answer is ‘Yeeeeees’?

I’m being vague and facetious for a reason. At times, yes, the album does deliver something a little gritter and nastier especially Johan Hegg’s vocals, which seem an octave or so lower, and yes some of the riffs seem a little beefier and more ‘death metal’. For example, one could be forgiven for thinking the opening riff of the opening track “Get In The Ring” was a Bolt Thrower song, “Oden Owns Ye All” is as stern and primal of a track they have ever penned and “Dawn of the Norsemen” recalls the band’s early days of Once Sent From the Golden Hall.

But also, as they have shown in the past, they have plenty of accessible and commercially catchy songs, which some will like, and some will not. The melodic stomp of “Heidrun”, the blandly, radio-ready track “Find A Way or Make One” and the awkward duet with Saxon’s Biff Byford for “Saxons and Vikings” (get it?)” are the kind of tracks that gave fans fits previously for being too clean and commercial. That said, they do the job of making your foot tap or head bob, which will translate well to a live setting.

The album strangely ends with two slower, moodier songs in a row. Some subtle keyboards give both “Skalgul Rides with Me” and “The Serpent’s Tale” a little more atmosphere, but they are still pretty standard Amon Amarth slower songs, though they end the album with a bit of a whimper, considering some of the sterner stuff that’s on the album before.

The Great Heathen Army is an Amon Amarth album. That’s about all I can say. It’s not on the bad or good side of the scale, it’s just there. There are some decent songs but the pre-album rumors or a much more death metal sound are greatly exaggerated, and these guys are still what they have been for the last 6 albums or so.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
August 15th, 2022

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