Still a few days before the release of Amon Amarth’s new record, “Deceiver Of The Gods”, let’s go back to April, when we got the chance to listen to the whole record and even to discuss of it with Johan Hegg! Check it out!
Hello Johan! Glad to be back in Paris?
Johan Hegg (vocals) : Yeah, it’s good!
So you just finished your new record “Deceiver Of The Gods”, what’s the idea behind this brand new album?
J : The idea was to make the best fucking album that we ever did. (laugh) When we got in the writing process, we said ourselves we just want to make an album that really say something and specially working with a new producer, we really felt we wanted to take it up on option. So we gave ourselves a lot of spaces for this one really, because in the past we kind of held back lot of the influences that we have musically. We kind of hide it in our sound but now it comes free a lot more and, I think, the album is better, the words are better; it’s a much more diverse album. The songs are just killer, I think that was the main thing for it. Lyrically, I had a bunch of ideas I wanted to work on, especially on Loki, he’s the Deceiver Of The Gods, so there’s a couple of songs talking about him. Otherwise there was no major plan, just make a fucking kick ass album.
Any explications for its title?
J : I don’t know. (laugh) We had a couple of options but since Loki is a character in the album, we wanted to have him on the cover, which we do, it kind of make sense and it’s a powerful choice for the title. We didn’t think more than that. It sounded good.
This album marks a new collaboration, in production, with Andy Seap. How did the idea of having him come up?
J : Actually, we thought about him before, even before “Sutur Rising”, but we decided to stick with Jens for the album. But after that album, we thought we needed to change producer just to mix things up. We talked about different names but his name was the one that kind of stuck with everyone, and listening to the stuff he’s already done, we felt that he’s style definitely could benefit our band.
What did he bring to the band? Which advices did he bring during recordings and studio sessions?
J : I don’t think he brought so much to the band like song writing style or anything. We pretty much did our own thing but for the recording and the production sound, I think, he’s style is a lot more organic, comparing to Jens who has a very clinical sound which is maybe a bit to clean whereas Andy has a little bit more dirty sound which suits better to the band.
The first thing I noticed after the whole listening is that the melodic stuff is way more in evidence. Was it wanted?
J : It was something we definitely wanted to do. As I said before, we let a lot of our influences come up more, and we felt very confident doing so. I think it’s definitely something that elevates this album, that the melodies come up more, especially when you listen more than once, you guys actually only listened it one time, but you’ll discover new things all the time and it’s one of those album which will keep growing. Stuff that I didn’t even notice came up and I don’t remember that I record it. (laugh) But yeah, the melodies are very important.
I also noticed an evolution; being lot more melodic at the beginning and much heavier at the end, with a long and epic track at the end. What’s your opinion?
J : We didn’t think in those lines when we put the track listing. We just tried to feel which songs could follow the others for the best and this is how it came up. (laugh) But it’s kind of weird, Olavi said it yesterday and I agreed, when you put out a record, there’s often a couple of songs you’re don’t really happy happy with and you kind of want to hide them, so you put them in certain places. But on this album, we had the problem that we all of us like all the songs. I can’t pick one favorite. And, you don’t want to hide any songs so it’s really difficult to get a good flow.
The 8th track “Hel” hints some oriental melodies, and there’s also a second voice; who is he and what about the meaning of this title?
J : “Hel” is both a place and a character in the North mythology. It’s sort of the realm of the dead which is run by the guardian, goddess Hel. It’s a very nasty place, it’s not hell like you think of hell, fire hell, its cold and the biggest pain is starvation. It’s a place where you go when you’re a bad man (laughs), if you die dishonorably. When we wrote the lyrics and the music when it started to evolve, we instantly realize that we wanted to this into a duet with this vocalist and it’s Messiah Marcolin (Candlemass) and he’s a singer we looked up since we were kids. He’s a legendary Swedish male singer, so the fact that we wanted to do this was just amazing for us and he did such a great job. The choir at the beginning is actually him and he comes in for the chorus and the duet. Fantastic.
And about the oriental melodies?
J : I think it comes from his style of singing but it’s not intentionally meant to be oriental.
If you had to pick three songs, which one and why?
J : I can’t, seriously. Three songs? I don’t know… Here’s the problem, I like all the songs and …
There are no tracks above the others?
J : It’s hard you know, because they all have something that really stands out and really makes it a really good track. And it’s not because they’re equal, they stand out different ways.
So you’ll pick up the record.
J : I think so yeah. Usually you can always figure out four or five songs that are your “favorite” songs but on this one, literally it’s all ten. Obviously there are tracks less suites for live performance but that doesn’t make them bad. If I could pick the three songs that I’m the happiest with the lyrics, I’d say “Bloody Eagle”, “Shape Shifter” and “We Shall Destroy”.
What can expect the fans of “Deceiver Of The Gods”?
J : I think they can expect a brutal metal album, a complete album, a proper Amon Amarth album, but there’s a lot of new ideas and stuff, much more diverse. It’s more of everything.
Can you understand if they are surprised for a first shot?
J : I think so, definitely with the opening tracks but when you take the whole album, I think people are going to be very happy. And when they’ll listen to the album again, it’ll be killer.
What are the plans with this record, apart from summer touring (Europe & America)?
J : The European shows are mostly festival shows and then we do a festival tour in the US. So we’re gonna do a headline tour, in Europe, hopefully this fall, we’ll see how it comes together.
There’s more and more young bands coming from Scandinavia, what is your feeling about this new generation?
J : Good question! (laugh) I think that’s very cool. I think that’s great that Scandinavia is producing so many great musicians and bands. The only thing I’m curious about, they buy everything, they don’t understand the consequences or how the business works, they just dive deep into it and the business kind of swallows them. We were fortunate to have people that we could trust that really wanted the best for us so we grew into it lowly but we had our spots of bad luck in all that. Because we didn’t go all in, we managed to survive that; some young bands are maybe going in to hard. But I think it’s very cool and the scene especially in Sweden where bands try to support each other a lot more these that it used to be in the 90’s. Even older bands can help them, telling how things works. We have an old tradition producing bands. Young bands stick together, they don’t compete, and the underground scene is very talented. Also, when we started, you don’t even have to own your instruments, you went to the youth club, owned by the city where you can borrow equipment and you can go to classes if you don’t know how to play an instrument, it was definitely a good climate for starting a band, if you want to do that.
What’s the last CD you bought?
J : The last CD? Actually I bought two CDs, the new KISS album and the last Orange Goblin album. But the week before that, I bought Enslaved. I mix it up a little bit.
What’s the last gig you attended to?
J : I think it was WASP.
What’s the craziest thing you ever saw during a show?
J : I see so many crazy shits. (laugh) One of the most fun things was at Bloodstock, in England, when people just sat down. That was pretty funny, but what made even more fun was at Summer Breeze last year. All of a sudden maybe a thousand people just sat down in a middle of a pit. “What the fuck is going on?!” (laughs). It was lot of fun, I loved that, we have the best friends in the world, they do like crazy stuff. I think it’s cool because they enjoyed our songs, I love that.
Finally, as a tradition, we are “RockYourLife!”, what rocks your life?
J : Just being in this band, is definitely a way to rock my life. But, I mean, there’s so many things that happened to me, or people I met that I’m thankful for being able to do this. My wife rocks my life she’s the greatest, so many stuff, hard to pick one, I’m just glad to be where I am right now!
Website : amonamarth.com