A friend recently brought to my attention that Swedish Viking metal band – or melodic Viking death metal band, to be precise – Amon Amarth had started selling wine.
I must admit this puzzled me at first. In the field of celebrity wine it’s no longer unheard of for metal bands to market red wine – especially Shiraz, for some reason – but… you know… Amon Amarth???
For the uninitiated (i.e. those who don’t live in vulnerable coastal monasteries around Northern Europe) Amon Amarth are a heavy metal band usually classified by critics in the niche area of “melodic death metal” – very loud shouty distorted-electric-guitar and blast-beat driven music with some discernible melody and recognizably “musical” song structures. But, understandably due to their absolute preoccupation with Vikings as a thematic focus, they band have often been mistakenly referred to as “Viking metal” – which term pertains to a completely different subgenre of heavy metal music.
This is what it looks and sounds like:
What does this have to do with wine?
Well, my thoughts exactly! I can’t imagine anyone makes wine in Sweden; indeed this Shiraz is sourced from the rather vague area of “southwestern Australia”, for the benefit of Amon Amarth’s merchandising empire. The label is recognizably Viking-themed mind you. And I suppose if one feels the need to reconcile this beverage with the band’s mtyhos/oeuvre one might justifiably imagine the wine sold bearing the Amon Amarth label is plunder from some of their party’s more far-flung raids.
As a side note, I remember going to see the band in London some years ago with my brother; Johan Hegg, singer and chief viking, toasted the crowd with a ram’s horn vessel and proclaimed “Ah, English beer! The best in the world.”
This was said with more than a hint of irony in his tone and I remember feeling a bit put out at the time, imagining that he’d been given some generic foreign swill like Fosters by the venue – rather than, say, London Pride, or Speckled Hen, or Tanglefoot.
I always had them down as mead drinkers before that point, but I imagine the truth is that a Viking’s attitude to drink is something along the lines of “when in Rome…”
So, their wine: what does it taste like?
Well, let’s say it’s unlikely to have the same effect on the wine world that their music has had on the world of melodic Viking death metal. That said, it’s red, fruity, slightly peppery and – especially for an Aussie Shiraz – eminently quaffable. The band’s suggestion that it’s a must at any “classy dinner party” must be taken with a pinch of whatever Vikings used to season their whale meat, but there’s no doubting that it’ll make the perfect gift for that special person in your life who loves both wine and melodic death metal. He’s probably called Gert or Hans, but let’s not indulge stereotypes: wine is no longer an elitist pursuit (if this doesn’t prove it, I don’t know what does) so we can only hope that the day comes when Amon Amarth’s music – and, indeed, their wine – can be enjoyed by the wider audience it deserves.
In the words of the band, “drink irresponsibly”.
Buy for €14,99 from EMP.de.