Olavi Mikkonen - Amon Amarth
Never one to disappoint in the pursuit of Viking mythology, and the most memorable runic riffs to my memory, with Oden on our side, we heed the sound of the victorious march, and the triumphant return of Amon Amarth. Soon the avenging wrath of the Norsemen will again be felt once these Guardians of Asgaard release their next crusher - 'Surtur Rising'.
Recently, I experienced the resounding twilight of the thunder gods on "70,000 Tons Of Metal". Next, I had a chance to speak with original guitarist - Olavi Mikkonen - about the new album, their choice of bands to cover, our fate of norms, and given recent world events - in the midst of the war of the gods - what it means to be us versus them.
MettleAngel: Hey Brother, we just saw you on "70 K". If you recall, you gave my son a guitar pick.
MettleAngel: Better! We were all so sick days after we deboarded. It was so cool to see you on that boat. If you recall the last show of the last night, where you played on the pool deck, it was so damn cold!
MettleAngel: All of us bangers went from T-shirts and jeans to hoodies! It was awesome, because while you were up there playing the melodic death tones in fire, it almost began to sleet. That was such a killer and memorable, breath-taking performance!
MettleAngel: We were hoping you would debut some new material. I asked you and Johan about this the first day, when we joined you in the dining room for lunch.
MettleAngel: I have read about this. You also will come back after a break, and then do a complete set of classics, right?
MettleAngel: The new album is awesome! I see you will also soon tour the UK with Children Of Bodom and Ensiferum.
MettleAngel: Man, talk about three bands above the crest of the norm! We saw Ensiferum on the cruise. I actually hung out with Sami Hinkka.
MettleAngel: We saw Saxon together. That poseur took the pick I was going to give to my son, and then he traded it for another drink. In all fairness, though, he did catch it, when it slipped out of my fingers.
MettleAngel: My wife and I would love to see Bodom too. Their new album is quite impressive, and the best they have done since 'Hatecrew', well, unless you count the cool covers compilation - 'Skeletons In the Closet'. I have not heard their new cover of Eddie Murphy, though.
MettleAngel: They do "Party All the Time", literally. I am sure it is hilarious, as most of their covers are quite creative! Hey, speaking of covers, I understand that you have a few planned for various special editions for the new album?
MettleAngel: I am dying to hear the Accept and Kiss. What is up with the cover of System Of A Down? I saw Johan sing that in karaoke, on the cruise, but I thought it was a joke.
MettleAngel: Oh please do tell!
MettleAngel: I too would feel a bit tetched, if I were submitted to that song ad nauseum. I just heard it for the first time ever, right before this interview. I watched the video at You Tube.
MettleAngel: That sucks!
MettleAngel: I have heard the Black Sabbath cover of "Children of the Grave", as I have the Tribute CD which also features Turisas doing "Supernaut". I have not heard your Accept or Kiss covers though.
MettleAngel: I can see that! In the mettle milieu this does seem to be redundant. The version by the late, great Chuck from Death, though, is killer!
MettleAngel: I agree, and it comes from a great album - 'Creatures Of the Night'!
MettleAngel: This and the Accept cover will be with the Pre-Order Edition, which also includes a DVD with the live performances from the Bochum shows where you did each album in its entirety, like on the remastered versions of 'Crusher', 'Avenger', 'Versus', and 'Golden Hall'. What made you chose to do these particular covers?
MettleAngel: Nuclear Blast made Accept one of their main priorities last year. Now they are focused on promoting the new Hell album with Andy Sneap. This is really not new at all, as most songs were written before he joined Sabbat in '81-83, when the rest of the guys were in Paralex.
MettleAngel: The new video for "On Earth As It Is In Hell" sure suggests this. I am also excited about the new project simply called Black with Andy LaRocque, Tony Martin, and Magnus Rosén!
MettleAngel: Talk about your simple names, but great musicians! This sure seems to be the year of supergroups, even when you consider Symfonia! I have been playing the new Amon Amarth album non-stop, and I noticed that this time you have attempted to use keyboards.
MettleAngel: Yeah, like Maiden did with 'Somewhere In Time'.
MettleAngel: You mean like when you had Apocalyptica perform on "Live For The Kill" on the last album?
MettleAngel: I detected it right away, but then again, I am always tuned into the music you make. I still swear that Amon Amarth creates some of the most memorable riffs of all time. With every album, there are always at least two songs which just stick right with you.
MettleAngel: I think that now after all this time you have created that Amon Amarth trademark sound. Speaking of this have you ever heard the Bluegrass cover of "Twilight Of The Thunder God" from the album called 'Slaughter Of The Bluegrass'?
MettleAngel: I like how for the second part it almost becomes Flamenco, and he sings in Spanish.
MettleAngel: I read recently in an interview with Johan that he does not want Amon Amarth to be viewed as a "Viking Metal" band.
MettleAngel: Real "Viking Metal" ultimately began with Bathory, and is personified by Unleashed, Enslaved, and Einherjer. You saw "Twilight Of The Gods" play on the ship, they were awesome doing those early Viking era Bathory albums total justice.
MettleAngel: Yeah, but your lyrics are not just like Manowar and "Thor The Powerhead", you really dig deep into the Viking Mythology. I learn something new about the legends every time I read your lyrics.
MettleAngel: This sounds like what Karl says about Nile. Some fans care about the Egyptian and Sumerian themes, and some just like the music.
MettleAngel: Amon Amarth is not into Asatru and surely do not actually believe that Odin and Thor are real Gods.
MettleAngel: Well, I do not want to get too far off the subject. As you know I have the original purple cassette version of 'The Arrival Of the Fimbul Winter' Demo. I have supported the band for a long time. Now that you have been playing in this band for nigh two decades, what do you think is your best album?
MettleAngel: This was the album that gave me new hope for the band. After all that HammerFall B$, and neither 'Crusher' nor 'Avenger' moving me much back then, I was ready to give up on the band until I heard 'Versus'.
MettleAngel: I was also so grateful for the bonus disc which included the 'Sorrow Throughout The Nine Worlds' (EP) and demos. I had the original pressing of that on the Singapore label, before it was re-issued by Pulverised.
MettleAngel: I agree, and I love it. My friends and I always are excited about new Amon Amarth material, because it is always so fresh and vibrant. Also, you know you can count on the band to have the best packaging. I just wish I had the money to spend on those damn bobbleheads.
MettleAngel: I do the same! Fans may not realize it when they bitch about paying $25-$30 for a tour shirt, that the club may take up to 30-40% of the profits, leaving the band with very little to tour on, given that the label seldom gives them much per diem.
MettleAngel: I wish, as that would be killer. I hope you at least will make a DVD of the experience.
MettleAngel: I know, but my family comes first, and the closest you will be coming is Cleveland. I will just have to catch you on YouTube, where anyone who missed "70 K" can practically see any band play live.
MettleAngel: I understand, and I sympathize. Well, I guess we will wrap this up. Congratulations on another great album. Tell all the guys we send our best.
See also: review of the album Surtur Rising