At War With the World
CoC has a little chat with a war-mongering viking
by: Chris Flaaten
Amon Amarth were doing interviews to promote their great album _Versus the World_ and due to geographical proximity, I was given the honour of chatting with vocalist Johan Hegg. There was a slight problem though: insanely short notice, and the fact that I didn't know Amon Amarth's music too well. Fortunately, I don't need to know much since I am after all the guy asking the questions. I went straight to the point and asked Johan to talk a bit about the recording of their newest release.

"We are extremely happy with the new album. There were quite a few things we did differently this time. First of all, we had the material 100% ready before we entered the studio. We also used a different studio this time around, because Tagtgren's Abyss was fully booked. We chose to work at Berno Studio and are quite pleased with the result."

What about the content?

"We pushed on in every direction this time and basically added more of everything. It's more epic, more varied and has more melodies. We have retained our previous brutality too, I think. Olli [Mikkonen, guitars], who creates all the music, sees music in a great way and creates unique melodies and harmonies. This has allowed us to find our own niche within melodic death metal, instead of melting into the Gothenburg scene. I think we have distanced ourselves even further from other acts with our new album, because it is 100% us. No compromise this time."

So, how have the reactions been from press, fans and label?

"The reviews so far have been amazing, and that's of course a positive thing for us. The fans have seemed to like it so far too, so it's all good. Metal Blade has been very supportive, and we are very satisfied with them. We have a very open and honest dialogue with their German office, and they lets us do our own thing."

After doing no less than three tours after _The Crusher_, it should come as no surprise that the band will be performing live again shortly.

"We are currently negotiating a US tour, but nothing is certain yet. We'll be playing at the Wacken Tour in April with bands like Sodom, Tom Angelripper and Mob Rules. We're also confirmed to play some festivals, including Bang Your Head, Summer Breeze and Decibel."

So... everywhere but your homeland then?

"We played at the annual Close-up party in Stockholm in November and that went really well. Sweden is a dead market for us, though. Our brand of death metal doesn't really do much for our countrymen it seems, unlike the Gothenburg scene and especially In Flames who sell tons of records in Sweden. We also face a lot of prejudice and misunderstandings here. Some have called us racist because of our Viking lyrics, which is completely ridiculous of course. We even have a multi-cultural line-up, for crying out loud! But we're used to fighting against our surroundings. Versus the world, you know? The lyrics on the album deal a lot with ourselves, really. It's a concept album about Ragnarok, but it can also be used to describe our own situation."

Since it seems like Amon Amarth is out of place within Sweden, I guess you draw inspiration mostly from non-Swedish bands?

"Yes. Absolutely. We listens to all kinds of music, of course, but I know Olli is a huge fan of bands like Slayer, Motorhead and Merciful Fate. The good, old stuff, you know?"

Sadly, I was out of questions a bit ahead of schedule, and had to let Johan go. If I had actually had a chance to listen to their discography before doing this thing, I would have had at least a couple more questions -- and a lot of praise, because their last album features some really outstanding songs. I suggest you use the spare time 'created' by the shortness of this interview to visit your local record store and purchase _Versus the World_.

(article submitted 28/4/2003)

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