Executing what will no doubt become a highlight moment in the history of Wacken Open Air, legendary Viking metal horde Amon Amarth managed to pull of a surprise set under the guise of Guardians of Asgaard to celebrate the release of their hotly-anticipated album, The Great Heathen Army.
Emerging between the Harder and Faster stages on a platform erected high in over the Wacken sky, the band proved towering, triumphant - without their usual stage spectacle and theatric production. Allowing the music to speak for itself, the fans heaved their adulation for Amon Amarth as everyone seemed to understand the gravity of what was happening.
Heavy culture contributor and commentator Sophie K of the award-winning On Wednesdays We Wear Black podcast managed to score some time with the guys while out at the "the most metal festival in the world" to get a first-hand account of what the lead up and the eventual release of The Great Heathen Army has been like for one of the "greatest metal bands in the world".
Frontman Johann Hegg, with a day to reflect on the performance spoke about how much the band collectively missed being on stage. Taking in the size of the audience, the unconventional setting, and the significance of both the festival and the occasion, the intermission of the last two and a half years seemed to disappear with the band quickly getting back into the swing of things and fully embracing their moment in the winners circle.
Speaking to the longevity and resilience of Amon Amarth, the guys were asked which film best defines their band. While Braveheart seemed obvious, Hegg explained how the adversity of 300 was more in line with the enduring nature of the collective. Hegg would go onto explain how despite adversity and impactful setbacks, Amon Amarth has soldiered on - even revealing that at one point Amon Amarth was considering the end. In fact, the album the fans came to know as Versus the World was initially named The End and was thought to potentially be their finale.
In a strange full circle moment, the band shared that a performance of new music from the then pending album at Wacken proved to be a pivotal moment that convinced the Amon Amarth they needed to charge ahead.
The guys shared their forecast as the arrival of The Great Heathen Army includes a healthy succession of tour dates. Amon Amarth joins Machine Head for a European co-headliner that spans September and October. Then, 'The Great Heathen' Tour sees Amon Amarth campaign North America with a legendary line-up that includes Carcass, Obituary and Cattle Decapitation - a run that caps off with a historic performance in Los Angeles at The iconic rock destination in The Forum - making Amon Amarth the first ever death metal band to headline the storied venue.
The Great Heathen Army is currently available from Amon Amarth via Metal Blade Records - HERE