Is this the greatest album release publicity stunt ever?


It seems that the Vikings of Amon Amarth have surrendered to the digital era.

Browsing through Reddit this week, I found that the Official Facebook Fan Page of melodic death metal band Amon Amarth was probably hacked by a “neckbeard”.

In the timeline of the band’s profile there was a photograph depicting the round face of a sunglasses-wearing, neck-bearded male with tiny teeth; here was a man who assuredly fit the profile of “basement dwelling nerd”. The rumors between the users were mostly funny comments about the face of the guy, and some of them remembered the hacking of the Lacuna Coil Twitter account, done a few weeks ago. A few hours later, another picture of said fellow was uploaded, showing his empowered battle station with multiple screens. Intriguingly, all of these posts mentioned the title of the band’s upcoming album Jomsviking, scheduled for the first half of 2016.

Watch out. I am coming to steal your booze, girls and decency!

Watch out. I am coming to steal your booze, girls and decency!

Today, all of the questions surrounding this hack came to the fore! Were the band’s social network profiles truly hijacked? Did Amon Amarth piss off the kvlt-krew once again with whatever hot-button issue is currently bothering them? Are Swedish “neckbeards” the most dangerous of all trolls?

Well… color me embarrassed, because I was fooled and trolled by the Vikings maestros. A ray of light and truth cut through this ominous cloud hovering over Amon Amarth’s big announcement! It turns out that it was all a stunt to promote Jomsviking and their next single, titled “First Kill”, which will be released in March.

The neckbeard character was fully fleshed out in a video, showing the persona constructed by the internet-made cliché antics: he was eating like a pig, asking for his mom to help during a blackout, attempting to troll and invoking the supposed “purity of the metal culture”. The story of this short movie follows the nerd rambling and enjoying his venomous work on a Reddit post about how Amon Amarth is not a “real metal” band and that they do not know a thing about Norse mythology.

His destiny is unfolded in a matter of minutes after his short moment of virtual glory: UFC champion Josh Barnett, dressed as a true Viking, smashed into the “neckbeard” lair to crush the disgusting character with a mighty hammer.

The entire publicity move of teasing the public with the photograph and publishing the video was done in a matter of hours, nearly a day, developing a good number of interactions with their social network. Now that they have released the stunt, the troll is targeted as their #FirstKill.

On a more curious note, Deceiver of the Gods, the last Amon Amarth album, was announced on the Metal subreddit, and they have done communication with their fans on that platform, too. Also, like Reddit user Todd_the_odd pointed out, the comment made by the nerd on the video was truly made (you can access it here), and it seems to have given the readers and the commenters in the Amon Amarth section quite the surprise.

I think that PR section of Amon Amarth made a great move employing multiple characteristics of the band’s environment trying to generate conversation and interaction over the course of this event: basement anger, the “true metal” fallacy and the use of one of the “safe zones” of the metalhead online culture gathering are all questioned and lampooned in this satirical work. Also, the video acts as a counter-attack of the said “metal elitism” regarding bands signed to “bigger labels” like Century Media Records or Nuclear Blast, a position that implies those bands sell-out, are not the same and should return to their roots. To support this, I need to point that they are apparently signed now to Sony BMG Music Entertainment, according to the few teases they made before this fake hacking [W. Note – In case you live under a rock/don’t give a crap about big labels, Century Media was acquired by Sony last August].

It must have cost a decent amount of money to hire the workers and actors behind the video, so either Amon Amarth is making good use of that major label funding or is attempting to compete and triumph against Sony’s goliath structure. To me, this is one of the best album releases of the last few years, and this approach can be an inspiration for more underground or self-financed bands to use different ways to promote their music and products. Namely, perhaps bands lacking the funding and status Amon Amarth enjoy can use viral marketing and publicity stunts to their advantage.

Having said so, regarding the metal culture, we often treat the internet as a place for only sharing or flaming in the comments sections. But, as a publicity tool, we have to remember that there are a myriad of bands outside battling for the listeners’ short attention spans and, this time, Amon Amarth were successful in gathering a couple of looks and likes with this stunt.

The topic here is not to pressure the bands to throw money to the PR Agencies, only to know the possibilities of online marketing to help in the promotion of their music. Quality in art is a must, but sometimes a creative publicity stunt can improve the reach of said art.

You can check the video here:

Did you like this album release? Do have something to say? Fire your arrows in the comment section!

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