Metal Crushes All: An interview with Amon Amarth guitarist Johan Söderberg



Rose Music Center in Huber Heights launched a new season of outdoor concerts in early May with an evening of death metal. Swedish band Amon Amarth brought its Metal Crushes All Tour to the Miami Valley with Cannibal Corpse, Obituary and Frozen Soul.

The Dayton Daily News spoke to the band prior to the performance.

Amon Amarth formed in Tumba, Sweden in 1992, from the ashes of grindcore band Scum. The group self-released two demo projects early on, “Thor Arise” (1993) and “The Arrival of the Fimbul Winter” (1994). Pulverised Records released the small run album “Sorrow Throughout the Nine Worlds” (1996) on mini-CD. Two years later, Amon Amarth’s fortunes changed when Metal Blade Records came calling.

The label, which remains the group’s home, released “Once Sent from the Golden Hall” in 1998. “The Great Heathen Army,” the 12th studio album and latest release from Amon Amarth, came out in 2022. It was recorded with producer Andy Sneap at Backstage Productions in Derbyshire, England. Sneap, whose credits include Testament, Exodus and Saxon, also worked with Amon Amarth on “Deceiver of the Gods” (2013) and “Jomsviking” (2016).

Amon Amarth features founding members Johan Hegg (vocals), Olavi Mikkonen (lead guitar) and Ted Lundström (bass), Johan Söderberg (rhythm guitar), who joined in 1998, and Jocke Wallgren (drums), who became the band’s fourth timekeeper in 2016.

Söderberg recently answered some questions about the Metal Crushes All Tour.

Q: How is the tour going?

A: We’ve been on the road a couple of weeks now and it’s been super good. We just got back from Canada today. We did three shows there and they were all sold out, which was really cool to see. We’re looking forward to coming there and playing an outdoor show. This one and Red Rocks are the only outdoor shows on this tour. We had really good luck there because it was snowing two days before our concert. Then when we got there it was in the 70s.

Q: What makes these four bands a good fit for a bill?

A: It’s all death metal bands. If you like heavy music, it’s a really good package. We’ve toured with Obituary several times before. We’ve played some shows here and there with Cannibal Corpse, but we’ve haven’t toured with the Frozen Soul guys before. Everybody is super cool. There’s a really good feeling on the tour. Everybody is happy.

Q: What has the relationship with Metal Blades Records meant for the group.

A: It’s always worked out well. It’s good for us and good for them. We’ve become really close friends with all the Metal Blade staff. We never really felt any reason to leave. Everything they do for us has worked out great.

Q: Have you started writing songs for the next record or is it too early for that?

A: We’re just now starting to think about the next album. We haven’t really written any material. We wrote the last album during lockdown. We were supposed to do way more touring on the previous album, “Berserker.” That got cut short. When we saw it was going to take some time before live shows come back again, we decided to start making “The Great Heathen Army” instead.

Q: Was it unusual to have that amount of time to focus on an album?

A: We usually take a year off touring and then write an album. This time around we might have to start writing material during the touring cycle. We’re not done touring on this album yet. This is the first time we’ve ever started to think about writing while we’re on the road. I don’t like to write while I’m touring. I just want to be focused on touring and then when I come home I can focus on the writing. But there is also a lot of down time when you’re touring where you just sit around backstage and don’t do much. It might be good to take advantage of that time and do some music.

Q: Amon Amarth is in North America through May and then the band has a break until August. Are you going to get any time off in June and July?

A: I’m going to stay over here actually. My girlfriend is American, so I live here with her most of the time. We’ve been together for four years now. We also live in Sweden half the time. We have an apartment in Stockholm, and we live in a college town in Virginia as well. It’s the best of both worlds. I love Stockholm in the summer but also love Virginia in the summer too. I like Virginia more in the winter because the climate is nicer. I’m going to spend this summer here in the States after the tour. Then in August we start to have a lot of festivals in Europe.

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