May 152019


(This is DGR’s review of Amon Amarth‘s 11th album, which was released by Metal Blade Records on May 3rd.)

Amon Amarth are fun when Amon Amarth get “weird” around the fringes of their music.

Well, let’s walk that back a bit, since there’s a lot of power in those quotation marks around weird. It’s not weird in the usual sense, as Amon Amarth remain fairly conventional, and hew pretty closely to all of the traits that make them recognizable, on their latest album Berserker. They are one of the trope vanguards of the term ‘shuffle band’, in that their music has found such a consistent bar of quality that you don’t really need to do full-album runs any more. You can throw their whole discography onto a playlist, shuffle it up, and still have a good time.

That happens to a lot of bands when they strike upon a sound that they then make their own, and Amon Amarth did that sooo long ago — about the time of Fate Of Norns and With Oden On Our Side — and since then their discography has felt like iterations upon that particular formula. Huge and epic for Twilight Of The Thundergod, surprisingly death metal for Surtur Rising, weirdly experimental on the fringes of their sound on Deceiver Of The Gods, and a big old block of a lot of the ‘same’ on the concept album – about Vikings – that was Berserker’s immediate predecessor, Jomsviking. Continue reading »

Jul 172017


(DGR takes over round-up duties again, with this collection of new songs and videos from eight bands.)

The end-of-the-week news flood was insane, as we have settled well into summer now and a lot of bands are either gearing up to hit the road or are already out making numerous loops on the festival circuit. Of course, this also means that there are a lot of albums in the hopper, getting ready to come out within weeks, or you’ll start seeing a lot of press for albums set to hit when the first leaves of fall drop.

That’s how you wind up with posts like this SEEN AND HEARD that helped kick off the weekend — not even counting our own fuel that we added to the fire, and the one that you’re reading now, which is basically just a gigantic dragnet for bands that had premieres elsewhere throughout the tail end of last week, or just blasted that thing right out to the world to see.

This episode of SEEN AND HEARD is eight (!) bands deep and skews death-metal heavy, so prepare yourselves for a lot of gigantic grooves, growled vocals, enough blasts to reach gunfire status, and enough chainsaw guitar destruction to fuel the planet. Continue reading »

Jul 192016

MDF XV revised flyer


Ten days have passed since the last time I put together a round-up of news and recommended new music, which is an unusually long gap. Perhaps needless to say, trying to catch up is out of the question. What I’m going to do instead is just pull together some big news announcements from the last 24 hours in this post (plus one related recent song), and then collect a few more recent music streams in a second part that I’ll post a bit later today.


On June 30, as we dutifully reported, the organizers of Maryland Deathfest announced the first round of confirmed bands for the XVth edition of the festival, scheduled to take place on May 25-28, 2017, in Baltimore. Just minutes ago, MDF announced a second round of confirmed bands — plus some surprising news about where the festival will, and won’t, take place next year. Here are the new confirmed names: Continue reading »

Jan 252016

Amon Amarth-Jomsviking


On March 25, those Swedish vikings in Amon Amarth will release a new concept album named Jomsviking, and just an hour ago they premiered a video for the first advance track, a song named “First Kill”. And on top of that, they announced dates for a North American tour that begins in April, with Entombed A.D. and Exmortus along for the trip. Before that, the band will play album release shows in four European cities.

First Kill” tells the story of a son’s banishment by his father after he takes his first life, leading him on the bloodstained path of a lone warrior and outcast. The song offers no surprises — it’s another galloping Amon Amarth ear-worm that makes me want to reach for my axe and drinking horn, though not in that order. I have no doubt it will quickly become a live staple, because it will get people fired up at shows in short order. The video is fun to watch, too. Continue reading »

Sep 202014


I’ve never met Johan Hegg, but I sure would like to. As metal celebrities go, he seems like an especially interesting, fun-loving guy. On the one hand, he is the badass face and voice of “Viking metal” (and I put those words in quotes to acknowledge the intellectual debate over whether that really is a definable genre of music). On the other hand, he cruises around in convertibles with muppets. And when he smiles, that warrior persona just melts away like ice in the summertime.

Two videos have just premiered in which Johan Hegg plays a starring role, and they show both sides of his personality — one from Amon Amarth, and one from Audrey Horne.


Yesterday Bloody-Disgusting premiered a video for the song “Deceiver Of The Gods” from Amon Amarth’s latest album of the same name. It includes clips from a forthcoming film, Northmen – A Viking Saga, which stars Tom Hopper, Ryan Kwanten, Ken Duken — and Johan Hegg in the role of Valli.  Continue reading »

May 302014

I’m slowly moving back into what I normally do at this site after more than a week of living in the world of Maryland Deathfest, first by attending it and then by re-living the experience in NCS posts. And part of what I do is attempt to highlight news items of interest. I’m a bit late featuring the three collected here, but I think they’re worth mentioning, even if tardily.


Beginning in September and running into November, Sweden’s Amon Amarth will be touring the US and Canada. Sadly, they will only have the Viking ship on stage at the October 18 New York City (Manhattan)  date, which is a show that’s part of Decibel magazine’s 10th anniversary celebrations. At that show, the UK’s Vallenfyre will also be appearing.  I would give your left arm to see that show.

Except for that New York City event, Skeletonwitch will also be a part of this tour, which makes it doubly enticing. Sabaton will be on the tour as well. However, although Vallenfyre will be playing the Manhattan date in place of Skeletonwitch, Skeletonwitch and Evoken will be playing later that same night at St Vitus Bar in Brooklyn; that show is also part of the Decibel anniversary festivities. I would give your right arm to see that one. Continue reading »

Feb 052014

You may have noticed that about the only metal news we focus on here concerns new songs, forthcoming album details, and tours. Even then, we make no effort to be comprehensive. If you want to find a place that relentlessly copy/pastes press releases, talks about the latest bass player to quit his band, or gossips about the metal scandal of the day, this ain’t it. However, I’ve been peppered with reader messages about the two “scandals” in this post, so I’m relenting.


I would enthusiastically fork over money to see the current Deceiver of the Gods Tour with Amon Amarth/Enslaved/Skeletonwitch if it came within spitting distance of Seattle. But it isn’t, so I won’t. However, I can easily imagine the magnitude of my hot smoking rage if I had paid to see this tour In Charlotte, NC, on January 29. The event was to have occurred at a place called The Fillmore, but the venue cancelled the show 6 hours before doors.

Why did they cancel it? Well duh, because of the polar vortex gripping Charlotte — as evidenced by the above photo taken by Johan Hegg from the window of Amon Amarth’s tour bus. Here’s the statement that appeared on The Fillmore’s FB page:

“Due to inclement weather, local road conditions and the current State Of Emergency in NC the Amon Amarth show scheduled for tonight at The Fillmore Charlotte has been CANCELLED. All online and phone orders will be refunded. Other tickets may be refunded at their place of purchase. We’re sorry for any inconvenience. Stay safe NC.” Continue reading »

Jan 182014

I’ve had virtually zero blog time since leaving Seattle early yesterday on a work-related trip. I haven’t even had time to listen to music, much less write about it. (You may have noticed, for example, that now two days have passed since the last installment in our MOST INFECTIOUS SONG series). Things aren’t likely to improve tomorrow, though we ought to be back to normal on Monday (“normal” being a relative term, of course).

I was saved from the dreadfulness of having nothing new on the site today by a message from my comrade DGR, bringing to my attention that Amon Amarth finally released their 10-minute mini-movie for the song “Father of the Wolf”. The band played the video at the first show of their U.S. your last night, and now it’s on YouTube. And now it’s on NCS.

In a word, it’s fantastic. Check it out: Continue reading »

Jan 132014

Here’s Part 4 of my list of the year’s most infectious extreme metal songs. I promised that new installments of this list would appear each day (more or less) until it’s finished, but four days have passed since the last one. I’ll make no excuses, but simply make a new promise that from here on I’ll do better.

For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the introductory post via this link. To see the selections that preceded the two I’m announcing today, click here.


Cnoc An Tursa’s magnificent 2013 album The Giants of Auld made many of the year-end lists we’ve posted at NCS, including this one by Panopticon’s Austin Lunn. He wrote this about the album: “EPIC Scottish metal. This is the album I have been waiting for…” Speaking as someone with only the most remote Scottish ancestry but a strong affinity for almost all things Scottish, it’s the album I’ve been waiting for as well.

I first wrote about this band in October 2012 after seeing the news that they’d been signed by Candlelight Records. In that first post I included all of the music from them that I could then find, including a portion of a song called “The Lion of Scotland”. In all its full glory, it later became the first advance track to appear from the album.  Continue reading »

Sep 192013

(To quote the legendary Orson Welles, “We will serve no wine before its time.” The time has finally arrived for the legendary DGR’s review of the latest album by the legendary Amon Amarth.)

If you are a heavy metal writer, at some point in your career there will come the moment when you cross paths with writing about Amon Amarth. It’s become a requirement, and something of a ritual, that at some point must discuss an Amon Amarth disc. Despite appearances that I’ve been metal blogging forever, I’ve managed to avoid this ritual, having handed off reviews in the past to people who absolutely loved their latest disc or were so familiar with the band that they could capably argue its quality and merits.

Amon Amarth have, at this point, ascended beyond being a band and have become a cultural staple – to an Iron Maiden degree. They’re a band people who don’t like heavy metal, or haven’t listened to much of it, will talk about as if they’re the greatest thing in the world. The sheer mention of Amon Amarth will cause people who have never heard of the band to act like it’s the coolest thing that they’re the Viking metal band. It is a gimmick to which the band have dedicated themselves to the fullest, and it has permeated their whole career to the point now that we often don’t actually talk about the music when we talk about Amon Amarth.

It’s worked for them so well that they’re beyond musical discussion, because we know that, at the very least, it will be an Amon Amarth disc. It sucks, too, because Amon Amarth have put out some fantastic music and some very high quality albums, so there really is always a discussion to be had about the band, beyond the fact they have a fucking longboat on stage. Continue reading »