AMON AMARTH lead guitarist Olavi Mikkonen and vocalist Johan Hegg spoke to the WSOU radio station about the making of the band's new album, "Berserker". Due on May 3 via Metal Blade Records, the disc was recorded at Sphere Studios in North Hollywood, California with producer Jay Ruston, who has previously worked with ANTHRAX, STEEL PANTHER, URIAH HEEP and STONE SOUR.
According to Olavi and Johan, AMON AMARTH took its time composing the material for the follow-up to 2016's "Jomsviking".
"I think the whole writing process was close to a year, and the actualy recording was six or seven weeks," Johan said (hear audio below).
"When we finally recorded the album, that was the third time we went into the studio with the songs," Olavi clarified. "So we've been working on it more than we have done with any previous album. 'Cause in Sweden, we went to Abyss studio twice, and that was during the spring last year. And then I think at the end of the summer, we had a studio session with Jay, the producer, in Sweden. So we tried every kind of version of [all the songs] until the final recording."
Olavi went on to say that the extra time spent in pre-production had a significant impact on the final product.
"Definitely," he said. "At least, for me, musically, I think what I need is time. Spontaneous stuff is cool, but usually when you do spontaneous stuff, after a month or two months, you kind of feel, 'Ah, that wasn't really that good.' So it's good to have a lot of time between when you actually write something, and then you can put it aside and then maybe you hear it again two months later. Then you're, like, 'Oh, this is actually pretty good.' Or you hear, 'All right. This is not really that good.'"
"But I think there's a golden line there somewhere where you overwork something as well, so you have to be careful so you don't do that," Johan chimed in. "'Cause if you overwork it, you may lose a little bit of drive and the edge. It becomes too fine-tuned, almost. And metal is supposed to be a litte bit edgy, I think."
Both Johan and Olavi praised "Berserker" as AMON AMARTH's best album to date.
"We've done something quite different as AMON AMARTH, even though very familiar for the fans," Johan said. "But it's still gonna sound AMON AMARTH, of course, but there's a lot of new elements and new stuff in the recording. So I think people are gonna be pleasantly surprised about the album."
"I think one good example is that we recorded 12 songs, and we said, 'All right. Ten's gonna be the album,' 'cause we don't really wanna have too long [of] an album," Olavi explained. "But we could not decide what two songs we would skip. And every guy in the band, management and whatnot people had different opinions. We were, like, 'Fuck it! Keep them all.' And then to choose the singles, that was even trickier."
"Jomsviking" debuted at No. 19 on The Billboard 200 chart in March 2016. The disc was released via Metal Blade in North America and Sony Music internationally. The first concept record in AMON AMARTH's career was produced and mixed by Andy Sneap (JUDAS PRIEST, MEGADETH, TESTAMENT, ACCEPT).
AMON AMARTH enlisted a session drummer, Tobias Gustafsson (VOMITORY, CUT UP), during the recording sessions for "Jomsviking", following the departure of longtime drummer Fredrik Andersson. The band tapped OCTOBER TIDE drummer Jocke Wallgren as Andersson's permanent replacement three years ago.