AMON AMARTH’s JOHAN HEGG Reacts On The Label ‘Viking Metal’

Amon Amarth’s vocalist Johan Hegg talked to WSOU about many things. Among them the fact that American audience likes to label them as ‘Viking Metal’ (as transcribed by Ultimate Guitar).

A lot of people in America characterize Amon Amarth as Viking music. You guys have obviously embraced that, but I’ve heard from different people that sometimes categorizing this kind of music as just Viking music is – not offensive, but…

“It’s a big misunderstanding. It became this massive thing and everybody keeps asking about it. I said once – I thought it was odd that you would label music based on the lyrics.

“Okay, if we are Viking metal because we write about Vikings, then so is Enslaved, so is Bathory, so is Iron Maiden, so is Led Zeppelin, so is Black Sabbath

“And musically, it’s not really super close – that’s different genres of music, even though it’s still metal. That’s what I was trying to say, that labeling something on the lyrical content may not be accurate for someone who has never heard us.

“But it’s not a big deal, people can label it whatever they want, and I guess we are the Viking metal.”

On top of that, it seems that you guys kind of started that too. You have a Viking ship…

“There are bands doing Viking things and lyrics before we did, but not a lot of them, and I guess we are the first one that became more successful, in a sense.”

I’m curious about the title of the album ‘Berserker.’ It’s ancient Norse for a warrior that fights in a wild frenzy, but in English, when you say, ‘Oh, it’s berserk,’ it normally has a negative connotation. I’m curious how do you separate that?

“Oh, that’s easy. We don’t care. I can see that, but I mean, berserker and berserk, like, rage, for most people it signifies something that is very negative.

“In a way, it’s quite brutal and frenzied, but what a berserker is, they’re, supposedly, according to myth, Odin’s chosen warriors and they were sure to go to Valhalla, they were fearless in battle, they didn’t care if they die or not…

“And the reason why we chose that title for the album is basically based on the title track ‘Berserker.’

“That story alone signifies what a berserker was, it is actually in the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ from, I think it’s the 11th century, where they described one Viking warrior on Stanford bridge holding off the entire English army of 15,000 men with just an axe.”

If there was no Amon Amarth, what would you be doing?

“I was a carpenter before the band.”

Would you love your profession still no matter what?

“Yeah, so now, carpentry and building stuff, that’s my hobby now, I just changed my profession to my hobby… I liked that, buying new tools… and every summer there was something that needs to be replaced or whatever, so yeah.”