Amon Amarth have found a lot to love in violent Norse mythology.
AMON AMARTH with BELPHEGOR and ENSIFERUM at the Phoenix (410 Sherbourne), Wednesday (October 15), 7 pm. $28. 416-870-8000.
Thanks to the rousing, fist-pumping rage in their music that comes at you like Viking long ships descending on Lindisfarne, the omnipresent lyrical nods to Oden and the Valkyries, and the promo shots of the Scandinavian quintet decked out in chain mail, you can't help noticing that leading melodic death metal act Amon Amarth really have a thing for their pagan heritage.
Just don't make the mistake of calling their music "Viking metal."
"In our opinion we've always played death metal with Viking-themed lyrics, so I don't think the term applies," says drummer Fredrik Andersson from his home in Sweden.
"Scandinavian mythology is a good theme that fits the music. The violence and the ideology of how the Vikings lived, and their beliefs - it's something that we relate to and feel it works with our philosophy."
It's doubtful that the aforementioned philosophy involves pillaging the towns where they play, but the music has certainly won the attention and support of extreme metal fans on a global scale. And Andersson, who answers questions with a kind of standoffishness that suggests he'd like the music to speak for itself, doesn't take their popularity for granted, especially in the age of free downloading.
"Metal fans are very interested in the bands. They actually buy CDs and they care. It's not just whatever is on is on; they're looking for the kind of music they want to listen to, and they're a little bit more selective. I don't think the metal scene could exist without CD sales. You can't have underground bands touring and releasing CDs without CD sales."
Now that the band has just released their latest opus on Norse mythology, Twilight Of The Thunder God (Metal Blade), a big tour follows, which can be taxing on the band's family lives.
But Andersson's not going to bitch about the tiring life of a hard-working band. And even as he expounds on those tried and true metal clichés, there's also something unabashedly honest in the way he says he and his bandmates love performing too much to stop.
"In the end, this is our dream. This is what we want to do. You don't get the same kind of recognition, and no one applauds you when you come home from work, so when you play your songs live in front of thousands of people, you know that's something you want."
Talks about their newest album, Twilight of the Thunder God:
Discusses term Viking metal:
On spending time away from family on tour: