The sword-wielding, iron-fisted Amon Amarth are one of the key Swedish bands to put Viking metal on the map. Their new album, 'Surtur Rising' -- due out via longtime label Metal Blade on March 29 -- will continue the tradition of raping and pillaging, metaphorically speaking. The title refers to a particularly nasty god in Viking mythology who rears his dastardly head multiple times on the album.

"He is the one that is responsible for the end of the world," guitarist Olavi Mikkonen told Noisecreep about Surtur. "He was fighting against some of the other gods, but in the end, he makes the whole world gone. It's him and a few others, but he is one of the meanest and baddest." Needless to say, listening to 'Surtur Rising' will be a veritable smorgasbord of Norse mythology.

With 'Surtur Rising,' Mikkonen said that Amon Amarth haven't taken any drastic stylistic left turns on the album's 10 tracks. They follow the old credo that if it ain't broke, you don't fix it. That's not to suggest Amon Amarth haven't flexed new creative muscles on the album, though.

"We have found our sound and our style in our small corner in this metal scene, so we don't make too many changes, but there are some new elements," Mikkonen admitted. "But still, we sound like us. This time, we tried to make some more epic sounds, but to be not so obvious. We wanted to make it darker and have a more epic album. But of course, we have the traditional Amon Amarth songs, too."

The god Surtur figures prominently in the lyrics from multiple perspectives, as well. "There are two songs about him," Mikkonen said. "He is in 'Destroyer of the Universe.' During the end of the world, he is fighting other gods; and another song, 'The Last Stand of Frej,' which is about that same fight, only from [Norse god] Frej's perspective.

"It's the total opposite song, and is about how Frej saw the fight. 'Destroyer of the Universe' is really brutal, and Surtur is a brutal character. And 'The Last Stand of Frej' is very epic. It's our most epic song ever, and those two songs are about this one fight."

Amon Amarth and Mikkonen have a real appreciation for metal fans that goes deeper than affinity for heaviness or riffs. "They are dangerous," Mikkonen said about them. "It's the long hair. To me, a Viking is a metalhead -- so the music we play is perfect for Viking metalheads."

Amon Amarth are currently taking to the sea in true Viking fashion on the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise. They will return to crush American skulls under their feet this spring while on tour.

'Surtur Rising' track list

01. 'War of the Gods'

02. 'Töck's Taunt - Loke's Treachery Part II'

03. 'Destroyer of the Universe'

04. 'Slaves of Fear'

05. 'Live Without Regrets'

06. 'The Last Stand of Frej'

07. 'For Victory or Death'

08. 'Wrath of the Norsemen'

09. 'A Beast Am I'

10. 'Doom Over Dead Man'

More From Noisecreep