Twilight of the Gods - Interview with Johan Söderberg By Paul Brady

Swedish Viking Death Metal act 'Amon Amarth'  were formed back in Tumba (Sweden) in 1988 by Olavi Mikkonen & Ted Lundström after their previous band 'Scum' a grindcore band broke up. The soon teamed up with Johan Hegg, to were the band headed towards a melodic Death Metal act and the band released their debut demo under in 91, soon which followed the band name in 92. In 96 the band released their debut album through Pulverised Records to which the band released their debut MCD titled 'Sorrow Through The Nine Worlds' and in 98 the band were picked up by Metal Blade to were their debut full length album was released 'Once Sent From The Golden Hall. The rest is pretty much history, and with the band playing succesful tours with Slayer and also playing festivals such as Summer Breeze, Wacken, Bloodstock the band are on their way up. Paul Brady spoke to guitarist Johan on their recent tour here in the UK to pop the following questions to him. I would like to thank Johan, Metal Blade (UK) and Paul for their assistance, true metal warriors!!

First of all, How are you and how is the tour coming along?

I’m fine thank you, the tour is going really good, we’ve been to some fantastic places and met some great people.

How is Touring With Entombed?

It feels so comfortable to tour with those guys, like touring with a bunch of old time friends really.

And of Course you and L.G have a history together, he appeared on the Guardians of Asgaard song.

Yes that’s right, was an awesome thing to do with him, both him and Johan have a great connection with voices and feel it worked really well as a partnership on the song, and it turned out to be one of our more popular songs too.

And you have been  playing it together live right?

Yes some of the shows we have been inviting him on stage, but not all of them. The crowds reaction had been great to it.

Going back to Entombed, Do you count them as being one of your Influences in the earlier days?

Well for me I was always into more traditional metal and the NWOHM scene, I then later started to listen to bands like Metallica and Megadeth, is similar to all people when getting into metal I think, Start off with Maiden , Through to Metallica, the first Death Metal band I actually heard was Entombed and I was blown away by the style, but on a whole I’m still more Traditional than perhaps the rest of the guys in the band. But I think that’s what makes it great, because were into all different types of metal it gives us more to work with, there’s elements of our music that may sound like for example Carcass and on the other hand we will throw in a Maiden guitar section.

You also both played Bloodstock Too Right?

Yes but we were unable to perform that song together or meet up at the show because we were both playing separate days, is a shame as that would have been awesome to do.

How was Bloodstock for you?

I enjoyed it lots, the crowd was really great for us that day and we were high up on the bill so we got to play a little longer than some shows we do at festivals, and we also got to share the day with some fantastic bands. I like UK festivals as they seem to get a lot of different styles of bands all in one place, You have bands such as ourselves playing with bands such as Europe, its really good for the fans I think.

Did you manage to see Europe’s set?

Of Course, how could I miss the Final countdown live, but seriously they are a great band with or without that song, they were very impressive to me.

Last time you was in the UK you was touring with Slayer, how was that for you?

Well this was about the time we released Twilight of the Thunder gods, so I think for us it was a great to me for us to show our new songs to everyone here, and of course touring with slayer was an honour. They’re another big influence on the band and I think any band that plays any type of metal really.

Did you get to hang out with the guys?

Yeah, we had great times, they’re all great people, I suppose people are a little afraid of meeting Kerry King, as he has a bit of a reputation amongst some bands, but I found him to be nothing more than friendly with us, and made us al feel really comfortable.

Is there any bands in particular that you would like to go on the road with?

We’ve already been out on the road with some bands I never though possible to, Slayer, Carcass amongst others, for me Iron Maiden and Metallica would be the ultimate, maybe they would be a clash of styles with the music but we never say never.

Do you have any particular Favourite place to tour?

I think for me Chile was by far my career highlight, the crowd was insane and for me the wilder the crowd are, the more energy we get from them, I think South Americans in general seem to be the most wild, whereas the UK fans are more for the music. We still yet have new places to discover though, we plan after the UK dates to go to Asia and China which we have never played before, so we shall see.

It seems the latest album Twilight of the thunder gods has really boosted your popularity and been getting great feedback from the press, why do you think the time has come now rather than before for this to happen?

I’m not sure, it seems like every album we do, people say was better than the last, No ones said we would write a better record that With Oden on our side, and some say we did that with the new one, I think the popularity comes with that, we work hard and every album we do we put our best into and I think it shows, also I think the style of metal people listen to nowadays has also an impact on this. A lot of our style of music has become popular nowadays. I think people are realising bands like us play music from the heart and not something we think that a certain audience will only like, I think this has an effect on how bands become popular for a small time or whether they’re one of the bands that stay around for years.

How will you approach writing to the new album with these type of expectations?

We will write as we always do, we will come off tour and string al our ideas together, we develop small ideas on tour and then put them all together, I think so far we have a couple of songs nearly complete but is more than likely we will change them completely.

Is there any new bands out there you listen to?

Not really I will always be more favourable to the old metal so I don’t listen to much new things really.  Of course we’ve been touring with newer bands like Evile but they still adapt to the old style of metal. Of course I keep my ears open for different bands I have yet to discover, but lately there hasn’t been any that I have really paid attention to, this is no disrespect to any bands out there, its just a personal feeling

Speaking of Evile, did you guys get much chance to hang out together?

Yes for a very small time we did, they’re really awesome guys, from what we saw, its just a great shame about what happened, I have never witnessed anything like it, such a shame when someone as talented as Mike is taken from us. But I’m sure that they will continue and who knows maybe we can join up again someday.

Do you have any touring plans for next year?

Its too early to say yet, I think we will be more focused on the album and recording rather than touring, but I’m sure we will be playing a few shows here and there, hopefully we can do another festival here in the summer,. Hopefully we get the album complete in as quick time we can and we can get back out in the road again and perform new songs.

Well Thank You For Your Time, I hope you have a great show and good luck with recording your new album

Thank you very much and thanks to everyone out there for the support.