Amon Amarth
Berserker


2.0
poor

Review

by Heathenhearted USER (2 Reviews)
May 13th, 2019 | 18 replies


Release Date: 05/03/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Complacency loud as Heimdall's horn.

There is something to be said for artists that stick to their guns and release consistently good albums, for whom the pursuit of genre defying masterworks takes a backseat to fist pumping anthems and tried and true songwriting. With their last several releases, Amon Amarth have settled comfortably into this niche, pushing out solid yet inoffensive material at a steady pace to a grateful and passionate fanbase. Despite some moments of glory, the Swede’s penultimate release “Jomsviking” began to reveal the cracks in this formula. With “Berserker,” Amon Amarth finally tips the scales from reliability to complacency.

From beginning to end, “Berserker” blearily chugs along on momentum alone as the band deems it fit to copy past successes and spin their wheels. Cannibalized Iron Maiden leads tirelessly ring out over listless tremolo riffing only to be syncopated by predictably “heavy” palm muted chugs and breakdowns. Occasional acoustic guitars, piano keys, and spoken word sections serve as filler to tracks already stretched painfully thin through ceaseless verse-chorus patterns. Moments of brilliance are few and far between and are often marred by hamstringing frustrations. “Shield Wall” wastes the potential of its menacing climax by rolling into another recycled verse. The brief drum interlude of “Raven’s Flight” sounds painfully synthetic. “Ironside” starts with promise but then ruins it with a jarringly awkward chorus. Amon Amarth is great at fashioning epic album closers, but “Into the Dark” comes off as an uninspired re-tread of “Doom Over Dead Man.” The record’s few strengths, such as a smattering of headbanging riffs and the one of a kind vocals of Johan Hegg do little to counter this fatal realization, there is nothing on “Berserker” that Amon Amarth hasn’t done (and done better) before.

Production wise things aren’t much better, most of the album functioning as a vocal-centric and compressed wall of sound. Rhythm guitars sound dull and lethargic, the leads paper thin and out of place. As is depressingly common in metal, the bass rarely steps out from behind the guitars. “Berserker” marks the band’s first full length recording with drummer Jocke Wallgren. His contributions are serviceable but do little to stand out from the herd and fail to leave the shadow cast by ex-member Fredrik Andersson.

In a market dominated by major labels and contractual obligations, it’s all too easy for bands to simply churn out another bunch of songs and then get back to touring. With their eleventh record, Amon Amarth falls victim to this cycle, recycling their own back catalog to the point that their longest record to date slides by in a blur. But all the same, the machine churns on. Shows need booking. Horns need filling. Shirts need selling. For Amon Amarth, “Berserker” is just another day on the job.

[Review was originally written for my personal blog at "Heathenhearted.net"]


user ratings (169)
3
good
other reviews of this album
Poet (4)
Yes, it is an Amon Amarth album. However, the band decides to shift things up a little bit to make t...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Heathenhearted
May 13th 2019


39 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

First review in a long while, and first ever negative review I've written, feedback is appreciated. Also someone please let me know if plugging my blog is against the rules.

Trifolium
May 13th 2019


11174 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Great review man, totally hits the nail on the head as far as I'm concerned. Pos hard!

Heathenhearted
May 13th 2019


39 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Thanks my dude! It was honestly painful to write, this band was my gateway into extreme metal and were my idols for most of my teens, so it sucks to see them go downhill. Their shows still rip though!

Trifolium
May 13th 2019


11174 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah I know, sad to see them make a misstep like this. Let's hope the next one will be unexpectedly good for some weird reason.

Pratman
May 13th 2019


36 Comments


Good review, never really listened to AA, but I think it might be a group I could like. No necessarily from this album though.

Meridiu5
May 13th 2019


2770 Comments


Lol summary

Throwback to jamming thunder god in high school

Digging: Nathanael Larochette - Earth And Sky

Alastor
May 13th 2019


2110 Comments


"it sucks to see them go downhill"

I feel you. The band has been in constant artistic decline for over 10 years, but their sales seem to have gone the other way. Their setlists still have some of the old classics, but I don't think I'll ever bother seeing them live again.

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
May 13th 2019


10583 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm right into this repetitive bullshit

Heathenhearted
May 13th 2019


39 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Prat, I'd recommend starting with With Oden On Our Side or Twilight of the Thunder God, the former is when the band truly found their modern sound, and the latter hammered down on it. You should eventually check out their first four albums though, their rawest and most aggressive and undoubtedly their best imo, particularly their debut, Once Sent From the Golden Hall.

I wish they'd pay more attention to those first four albums in their live sets aside from "Death in Fire," although they did play "Victorious March," my all time favorite from them the last time I saw them play. That was awesome. Need to throw an Avenger or Crusher track in there though.

WretchedCacophony
May 13th 2019


1755 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I've never seen an Avenger of Crusher track on any set list in the past 10 years in their live videos or otherwise. It's kind of annoying but they also probably figure no one ever heard the tracks before lol.

But on the flip side, it would be like them 'releasing new material' to play old songs people don't know (:

Hawks
May 13th 2019


73730 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Agreed with Nocte.

Digging: Cradle of Filth - Cruelty and the Beast - Re-Mistressed

Heathenhearted
May 13th 2019


39 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

For sure, as they release more albums they need to pack more and more of their newer tracks in, would be nice for them to throw the old school fans a bone every once in a while though. I first saw them on the Twilight tour in 2010 and they busted out "Masters of War" as well as "And Soon the World Will Cease to Be." It was nuts. Granted that album is when they really found mainstream success, so it's unsurprising they've moved away from their early stuff since then, and they've put out several albums since then.

Alastor
May 14th 2019


2110 Comments


"I've never seen an Avenger of Crusher track on any set list in the past 10 years in their live videos or otherwise. It's kind of annoying but they also probably figure no one ever heard the tracks before lol."

Last time I saw them (over 4 years ago) they still played stuff from both albums. "God His Son and Holy Whore" and "Masters of War" if I recall correctly. But you could sense that the biggest part of the audience didn't have a clue of any album that came before Oden. I hope they will do special nostalgia shows sometime in the future for folk like me, but that seems like a wet viking dream for now.


scorpi
May 14th 2019


4 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Good review. And would have to agree that it is a poor record. One of those albums that is a chore to listen to beginning to end.

Heathenhearted
May 15th 2019


39 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Hoping for another "Bloodshed Over Bochum" kind of show someday, first four albums front to back. Probably a pipe dream though.

DungeonBoy
May 16th 2019


6940 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Good review!

Digging: Alcest - Spiritual Instinct

Heathenhearted
May 17th 2019


39 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Thank you!

SymbolicInTime
May 17th 2019


4784 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Finally a more fitting review

Digging: Spraynard - Mable



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