INTERVIEW: Johan Hegg of Amon Amarth on the new album The Great Heathen Army

Interview by Andrew Massie

Amon Amarth

From pole to pole and sea to sea, AMON AMARTH are undisputed kings of Viking heavy metal. Formed in Tumba, Sweden, in 1992, they have forged an extraordinary legacy over three decades of thunderous, anthemic metal, all rich in the magical imagery of Viking history, folklore and culture. Unfortunately, as the world ground to a halt early in 2020, Amon Amarth were in the midst of a wildly successful world tour in support of their most recent album, Berserker. Disappointed but unbowed, the band decided instead to forge a new creative path, resulting in their most crushing and heroic full-length album to date, The Great Heathen Army. We talk to frontman Johan Hegg about the latest album, the impact of the pandemic and the making of the video for the first single “Get In The Ring”.


On how the pandemic forced the band to start work on The Great Heathen Army album:

Johan: When the tour got cancelled we went back home and lets wait and see what happens because obviously nobody knew how long this pandemic is going to be, whether it’s going to be another scare or whatever. So lets wait it out and see and we pick up the touring if we can but then fairly soon we relaized this pandemic is not going to go away anytime soon so we decided to take some time off, recharge the batteries and we said by the time we go back touring the Berserker album is going to be three years old, doesn’t make any sense to go back touring on an old album so lets just start writing a new one.

On the theme of the new album and having the band members depicted on the front cover:

Johan: We wanted to have a big army on the cover and then we said just for the fun of it as well put ourselves in there as a sort of wink to Kiss Destroyer and those types of albums [laughs] but also I think when it comes to The Great Heathen Army obviously it’s historical, the lyrics are historical and everything. But what we felt about it is in a way, the Great Heathen Army is back now because the pandemic is going away, we’re dealing with it, we’re opening up society, shows are coming back, festivals are coming back so the whole metal community is waking up after two years in hibernation basically so the Great Heathen Army is back.

On selecting the first single and getting wrestler Erick Redbeard as special guest on the video:

Johan: I think to do Get In The Ring the first single kinda made sense because it’s kind of brutal but still pretty catchy and I think it really represents the album in a good way overal. Plus also it was a cool idea to write the song for Erick because he approached us a couple of years ago for writing a song that he could walk out to his fights. So we said, yeah we want to do that but we didn’t want to just throw something together, we wanted to make a proper song that could fit on an album so that’s what we did and Get In The Ring became that song.


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Amon Amarth - The Great Heathen Army