RUNES AND SOME MEMORIES
RUNES AND SOME MEMORIES
It’s early in the evening of March 25th, 2017 and we’re backstage at the Palladium in Cologne ahead of a hopelessly sold-out Amon Amarth show. The sun’s going down on a line of people stretching around the building where deep inside and backstage the assembled members of Amon Amarth are huddled in a room making plans and thinking aloud, and there’s much to discuss.
The band are mid-stride in the Jomsviking cycle, a chapter that saw their album go to number one in Germany, a feat which would superpower a tour that’d see them playing some of the biggest, most fiery shows of their careers. With festival headliners across Europe planned, including Wacken, Bloodstock, and a two night stint at Summer Breeze festival it’s safe to say they’re currently firing on all cylinders, but that’s not why director Phil Wallis and I are here.
For a month or two I’ve been speaking with Justin Arcangel their manager about Amon Amarth’s 25th anniversary, a staggering number that we’re all struggling to get our heads around. The reaction you get from people outside of Amon Amarth camp is, invariably, ‘wow has it been that long?’ As for the band themselves, they just kind of smile and slowly nod as if to say, ‘yeah... we know.’
With a little time before the show we knock around the idea of a documentary film as a way of showing fans a side of Amon Amarth that you rarely see and how they got from Tumba to the world stage. But where does the story begin? First things first, what are we going to call it?
A few ideas surface, but none seems more fitting than The Pursuit Of Vikings. It isn’t just a cast-iron classic from 2004’s Fate Of Norns, but it seems to fit what’s on the table, and the essence of the story being told. After all, how else do you describe what Amon Amarth have been doing for the last quarter-century? The band consider all options and talk it through - it’s a considered and democratic process that we’ll see repeated countless times throughout the production of The Pursuit Of Vikings, and you get the sense that if there’s any secret to the sort of longevity that Amon Amarth has enjoyed that this is definitely one of them.
Perhaps more important than the title to Ted Lundström and Johan Hegg, or Big J as they call him, is how we represent it all visually. He takes my notepad and draws a couple of runes - an Ansuz, both going forward and backwards. The idea of wrapping the Midgard serpent or Jörmungandr comes later, but it all fits together beautifully. Big J explains the significance to us but it’s too complex to remember all the detail, but it’s to do with Oden and Loki, beginnings and endings, birth, death, rebirth - all the sort of thoughts and considerations any fan of Amon Amarth will know is imbued into everything they do, and for an account of a band’s 25 years it seems the right way to go. After all, you have to ask: how many lives have they lived over that time? How many chapters in their history brought them to this one? It’s good enough for us. He hands me back my notepad, and the band disperse to get ready for the big show.
It’s a ferocious affair, and every surface in the venue is wet with the body heat coming off the crowd. There’s still a lot to discuss, but it feels like we’ve just taken the first steps in a very important journey. We didn't know it then, but that little drawing would become the defining feature of the entire campaign. -Alexander Milas
Keep checking back for more production diary entries, and if you haven’t yet ordered The Pursuit Of Vikings, you can do that here.