Johan Hegg – Amon Amarth ‘Recharged Before Unleashing The Great Heathen Army’

Amon Amarth 2022

Three decades and no fewer than twelve studio albums together. That is the illustrious history of the mighty Swedish melodic death metal band Amon Amarth in a nutshell. When asked how he feels when someone recites those facts to him, frontman and co-founding member Johan Hegg has a very simple answer.

“Old!” He states, laughing uproariously.

Of course, ‘three decades and twelve albums’ is just a single sentence, easily written and even more easily spoken. To have actually experienced those two decades of the trials, triumphs and tribulations that befall the members of a hard-working, constantly writing, recording and touring heavy band is something else altogether, and Hegg turns serious. “It’s crazy, it’s really quite hard to fathom. Not only have we done this for 30 years, we’ve actually done this for a living for 15 of those 30 years. That’s kinda crazy to me.”

“It’s insane, but it’s also fantastic,” he continues. “And it gives me a sense of pride, actually, for accomplishing something and being able to follow the dream.”

Especially playing a style of music that exists a long, long way from the mainstream? “Exactly, I don’t how that happened, but I’ll go with it!”

Another minor miracle is the fact that they’ve managed to last so long with fewer of the almost constant lineup changes that seem to afflict many of their contemporaries. “Well, we’ve had lineup changes, but most of them were in the distant past,” Hegg says. “We’ve had a new drummer in the band, for six years now. I supposed that’s not even that new, it’s a fifth of our career. That’s one way to look at it! (laughs)”

And the pace they have set for themselves, at least since the release of their debut in the late 90s, has not slackened one iota, having released an album and toured extensively off the back of it every one to three years since 1998. This, according to Hegg, comes down to the sheer work ethic the band possesses.

“Yes, it’s been quite relentless, actually,” he agrees. “Our normal cycle of writing and touring has been: write an album, record an album, tour and then straight back to writing the next album, record that album, release it and then tour again. It’s always been very constant, no time off for us.”

That is, until the dreaded covid hit virtually the entirety of the planet two to three years ago. While the spread of the virus has been so painful in so many ways for so many people, Hegg sees the positive side of it. “The covid situation actually gave us the opportunity to have a full year off, not doing anything,” he recalls, “which I think was very necessary for me, at least, but I also think for Olavi (Mikkonen, lead guitarist) and Johan (Soderberg, rhythm guitarist), who write most of the music. They also felt that it was good to take some time off and not even have to think about writing music, but just recharge the batteries. Just let the inspiration come naturally and not feel that you have to produce.”

The result of that is their twelfth album, The Great Heathen Army, yet another slab of the raucous, Viking-inspired melodic death metal they have become world famous for. At the time of this interview, the release of the album was a couple of weeks away, and while Hegg admits to still feeling a little nervousness in the leadup to an album’s release, despite doing this as a career for so long, he is super-confident in its quality and that the band’s legions of fans across the globe will find plenty to love within its grooves.

“I think there’s always a bit of anxious anticipation, I guess,” he admits, “for how the songs are going to be received and how the album overall is going to be received. But in general, I know we put our heart and soul into this album and I feel very comfortable with the quality of the album. So from my end, I’m really happy with it, and I think Andy Sneap did a fantastic job on the production of it.

“I have no doubt people are going to enjoy this album, so now it’s time to look forward to getting out on the road and playing these songs live.”

Which of course begs the obvious question, will the band be returning to Australia on the tour in support of The Great Heathen Army? The band are no stranger to our shores, and Hegg is confident that, despite touring the planet having become even more difficult than it already was in the last two to three years, our land down under will show up on their schedule at some stage in the not too distant future.

“That is the plan,” he states without hesitation. “Covid is going to go away eventually, you can’t keep the world on a lockdown forever, so I’m sure you’ll be seeing us down there at some stage.”

Interview by Rod Whitfield @Rod_Whitfield

Amon Amarth‘s new album The Great Heathen Army is out now!
Get it here

Amon Amarth – The Great Heathen Army tracklisting

1. Get In the Ring
2. The Great Heathen Army
3. Heidrun
4. Oden Owns You All
5. Find a Way or Make One
6. Dawn of Norsemen
7. Saxons and Vikings
8. Skagul Rides With Me
9. The Serpent’s Trail

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About Paul 'Browny' Brown (3496 Articles)
Dad, Wall of Sound Boss Man/Editorial Manager, Moshpit Enthusiast & Professional Beard Grower!