AMON AMARTH - "Yes, Let's Talk About The Bonus Tracks..."

Hot Flashes

Posted on Thursday, August 01, 2013 at 06:51:03 EST

By Mark Gromen

So says AMON AMARTH drummer Fredrik Andersson at the Philadelphia area stop of the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival. He's referring to the four, atypical songs that appear in the deluxe version of the Swedes' excellent Deceiver Of The Gods CD. "I know. I've been talking to the record label a lot about about it, telling them we should inform people what it (deluxe version) is. We haven't done that." Until now! "We were talking to fans, asking them what they wanted, in terms of bonuses. Everyone is putting bonuses on, to get people to buy records. We've done DVDs, covers, live songs... we've done everything. They told us they want more original songs. When we make an album, we only do the songs that are going to be on the main album. So we decided to do songs that sound like other bands, those we're influenced by, our idols."

Half of the four are instantaneously recognizable, the other pair a little more obscure, although it's in the ears of the beholder. 'Burning Anvil Of Steel' apart from any operatic vocals, could be a MANOWAR outtake. Andersson agrees about the vocal dissimilarity, but insists the target was elsewhere. "The vocals throw you off, but it's a lot of JUDAS PRIEST influences, 80s Priest, Defenders Of The Faith that era." Speaking of atypical vocals, check out 'Satan Rising', Johan Hegg checking his bellowing baritone for twangy, lighter fare. "We did these songs in less than a week: writing them and recording. It was a tight schedule. We wanted to make the vocals sound as close to the original as possible, but there was not enough time. We tried to sound like (SABBATH era) OZZY. It was easier than we imagined."

'Snake Eyes' might as well be entitled 'Lemmy', the lyrics reading like the MOTORHEAD mainstay's biography. The music mimics the transplanted Brits' raw simplicity. "Johan actually had the idea for 'Snake Eyes'. He had it written when we were first discussing the idea. That was the only lyric theme that was done." The final bonus, 'Stand Up To Go Down', is a hilarious, sex-filled romp. New territory for AMON AMARTH, made all the more humorous by the visual of their giant frontman being dwarfed by a bigger, domineering female. That, and the NYC reference, certainly re-calls the tongue-in-cheek nature of Pete Steele/TYPE O NEGATIVE. "It's supposed to be AC/DC," confirms the drummer. "We had fun doing all the songs, especially (re)creating the sound of the band we were trying to go for. Andy (Sneap, producer) helped out a lot. When he found the right sound, we were like 'Yes!'"

Andersson admits it was also fun having former CANDLEMASS singer Messiah Marcolin add his operatic voice to 'Hel'. "Johan met him a couple of years ago. He's a super easy guy to start talking to. They stayed in contact and he came to our show, in Stockholm, a couple of years ago. He hung out on our bus all night, drinking the whole night and we started talking about doing something together. He was totally into it. We did Sutur Rising, but didn't feel there was anything on that album that matched his voice. When we did this album, we thought 'Hel' could be something to try. He was super surprised we'd called. He didn't expect him to call back. We sent him a demo. He did some basic tracks and then he came into the studio. We were 'this close' to having him at our Sweden Rock show, but if an opportunity arises, we'll do it (have him guest live)."

This is a strong album, perhaps their best. In my review, I predicted it would finally be the disc to supplant With Oden On Our Side. "We try to put out decent records every album. We always try to make each one better than the previous one, but sometimes it just clicks. You can't predict it. You can't decide what type of songs to do beforehand, you have to go with the creativity, when it comes. They both have a strong energy, a new ignition. The songwriting process was similar as well, we had the same type of motivation, when we were working on this one as well."

Onstage at Mayhem Fest, the Vikings brought a replica, dragon-head longboat, with Andersson's kit perched atop, a stunning visual. "We built a new boat here in the States. To be honest, it broke us. It would have been easier to build one in Europe and ship it to the States!" Quite an elaborate undertaking/expense for six songs. They've played to nearly 50,000, or more, at Euro-festivals, but Andersson insists, there's no letdown. "No difference at all. Every show, you prepare the same way: warm-up the same, get in the mood the same way. The only difference is if it's a really small show, just a few hundred, and you don't get the response (even if it's a big show) you're used to, or want to get, then it's tougher. We would have a bad show if we don't get that response."

Plans call for Amon Amarth to return to these shores early next year!

More information about Amon Amarth can be found on