Swedish death-metal band Amon Amarth re-recorded their 2001 track “Masters of War” for the 20th anniversary of The Crusher. The lineup is nearly the same as it was at the time of the original recording, with the exception of their current drummer, Jocke Wallgren, who joined in 2016 after their longtime drummer Fredrik Andersson left the group in 2015.
The most notable difference between the recordings is some significantly cleaner production on the new recording. In comparison, the 2001 version is louder and sounds crushed, fitting the album’s name. Rather than an aggressive wall of metal, the individual notes are clearer. Vocalist Johan Hegg is also significantly more audible in the mix, with a more dramatic death growl.
There’s a lyric video that accompanies the re-recording as well. It seems to have been born from The Crusher’s album artwork, with animated flames everywhere, pillars supporting nothing and people killing each other in an epic battle. Hegg’s lyrics encourage the act of war to progress to its most violent extreme, complete with enslaving and torturing prisoners of war and tormenting every Christian man, woman or child they find. The song opens with the lines, “Strike/Fast and hard, show no mercy for these men/The vermin of Christ, prophets of lies and their disciples/Seek them out, hunt them down/Break their spirits, crush their hearts/Not even death will set them free from this pain.”
The Crusher was Amon Amarth’s third full-length release, following Once Sent From the Golden Hall (1998) and The Avenger (1999). While none of the tracks from the record turned into death-metal hits, there are some other relatively popular songs on it besides “Masters of War,” including “Bastards of a Lying Breed” and “As the Raven Flies.”
Since The Crusher, Amon Amarth has released eight more albums, from 2002’s Versus the World to 2019’s Berserker. 2008’s Twilight of the Thunder God has remained their most popular release, with hits including the title track, “Guardians of Asgaard” and “Tattered Banners and Bloody Flags.” As seen by the names, their themes of war, history, Swedish mythology and paganism have stuck with them throughout each new project.
Photo credit: Ekaterina Gorbacheva