17 Years Ago: Amon Amarth Break Through on ‘With Oden on Our Side’
It took six full-length albums, but with With Oden on Our Side Amon Amarth finally cracked Billboard. The record, which came out Sept. 22, 2006, debuted at No. 15 on the Top Heatseekers chart and No. 26 on the Independent Album Chart.
While the disc isn’t a marked departure from the plundering Viking metal of the band’s earlier releases, songs like “Runes to My Memory” and “Cry of the Black Birds” are heavier and more direct. Even when the band shifts rhythms, it does so with a new fluidity that keeps the album from sounding at all disjointed.
Some of the songwriting improvements on With Oden on Our Side came from the musician’s increased dedication to the band. “We made Amon Amarth our full-time priority,” drummer Fredrik Andersson told Deadtide.com. “Before, Amon Amarth was just a hobby and we were doing it in our spare time. What we did was we quit our daytime jobs and thought, ‘we're going to try this full-time.’ It made us very focused.”
Sonically, With Oden on Our Side has more in common with early Amon Amarth releases, including 1998’s Once Sent From the Golden Hall, than it does with the meandering, bleaker sounds of 2004’s Fate of Norns. Melody and heaviness exist in equal measure and while there’s plenty of double-bass drumming and thunderous riffage in “Valhall Awaits Me” and “Asator,” every song is flush with hooks and many feature carefully formulated guitar leads.
Amon Amarth, "Valhall Awaits Me"
In addition to demonstrating a new level of commitment to their music, Amon Amarth decided to hire a producer that would be more hands-on than Peter Tägtgren or Berno Paulsson had been with the band’s first five releases. “The change of studio [was a big thing for us], Andersson said. “We used a producer that got involved with the songs in an early stage also helped us a lot to make the best album.”
Amon Amarth named With Oden on Our Side after the almighty Norse god Oden, who wields a spear and rides a flying, eight-legged horse named Sleipnir. “Oden is of course the highest god in Scandinavian mythology and he's the god of warfare, wisdom, poetry and artistry, vocalist Johan Hegg told Pyromusic.com. “The reason we chose the title is that it suited the lyrical concepts of the album and signified the feeling we had during the writing and recording of the album. We literally felt as if we had the Gods on our side.”
Amon Amarth, "Asator"
With Oden on Our Side was released as a conventional nine-song album and as a digipack, which included a bonus disc that album two contained demos and live recordings and studio sessions of tracks from the band’s other records.
Loudwire contributor Jon Wiederhorn is the author of Raising Hell: Backstage Tales From the Lives of Metal Legends, co-author of Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal, as well as the co-author of Scott Ian’s autobiography, I’m the Man: The Story of That Guy From Anthrax, and Al Jourgensen’s autobiography, Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen and the Agnostic Front book My Riot! Grit, Guts and Glory.