This is one of my favourite songs ever. There is nothing better in the world than the first minute or so of this song. Truth. Amon Amarth is a Swedish band in the melodic death metal or viking metal genre. In general metal bands can be kind of ridiculous. If you’ve ever seen the documentary Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey there’s a scene when Dunn is interviewing Alice Cooper and he says that it’s hilarious to see some of these death metal magazines with the pictures of different bands on the cover because they’re all trying to out bad-ass each other to almost the point of hilarity. (By the way if you haven’t seen the film go out and watch it, even if you aren’t in the slightest a fan of heavy metal. It’s a highly entertaining and informative documentary on one of the lesser discussed genres of music. And it’s done by an anthropologist so you know it was done well… no bias what so ever here……) Anyway. I find that this band is more pleasant to listen to than some of the other hard-core metal bands out there simply because of the melodic mastery. I also like the vocals. If you listen to even a small variety of metal you’ll notice that some, or most, of the singers have very sharp, piercing vocals that either remind you of a squealing pig or a vacuum tube with a hole in it. And everything has a time and a place I suppose, but in comparison the vocalist of this band almost sounds soothing and smooth. It almost has a sort of gravel-y aspect to it that gives it a sort of earthy feel. Also, and maybe most importantly, I love the poetic flavour of the lyrics. Songs now a days, I don’t care what genre… they don’t sound like this. Baby, honey, boo, girl, oh yeah, I got the money, you’re my life I’ll die without you, etc. Very rarely do you find a song with actual content and even more rarely is it as poetic and descriptive as this song is. I mean it’s no Yeats or anything, but I enjoy it.
The song itself is the retelling of a part of a Norse myth. A guy named Hermod (a sort of messenger for the gods) goes down to the under world on the mythological eight- legged horse, Sleipnir, to beg the life Balder (god of light, beauty, innocence and joy who was killed by Loki, trickster god, who was jealous of him) from Hel, a supernatural being who presides over Helhiem, aka house of Hel. So he pleads with Hel saying- the entire world is mourning the loss Balder, please let him go and give him life once again. And Hel says, well I guess if the entire world is feeling his absence… sure.
In the actual story though, Hel’s terms for Balder’s release was that everything had to weep for him, since he was so beloved, and if not everyone in the entire world, alive or dead, wept for Balder he would not be released. And when he was released almost everyone did weep for him, all except for Loki, the one who orchestrated his death in the first place. So of course he had to remain dead.
This video has some pictures to go with the story and annotations with all the lyrics, so enjoy!