Amon Amarth - Jomsviking
Metal Blade
Melodic Death Metal
11 songs (52' 19")
Release year: 2016
Amon Amarth, Metal Blade
Reviewed by Andy
Major event

This time, Amon Amarth decided to shake things up a bit, try out a slightly different direction, and make a concept album. There are a lot of great stories and concepts for a talented band to choose from -- maybe an alien invasion? A self-destructive rock musician? A drug-crazed assassin for the New World Order, or a witch attempting to be reborn in the house where she died long ago?

Nope. It's Vikings again.

Obviously I'm being rather unfair here, merely for the sake of a cheap shot in a review. For one thing, Amon Amarth has always delivered the goods when turning out mid-tempo melodeath about Vikings, and for another, they do make a reasonable effort on Jomsviking to write an engaging story and try out some slightly different song styles while still keeping their core audience happy. Strict purists are no doubt already complaining about songs like At Dawn's First Light, which starts with the rock-solid Johan Hegg speaking the chorus line before a much snappier, up-tempo sound, but I rather like the extra melodic flourishes they put into it. For those who don't, though, the band has still kept its normal twin-guitar attack and sullen-toned, minor-key riffs, along with the steady double-kick drums and tremolo leads. Most of the songs feature the most easily understandable delivery from Hegg yet, but he doesn't sacrifice any of the harshness of his trademark vocals. Nor does the subject matter take itself too seriously; in the middle of the album, the double meaning in the rather celebratory chorus to Raise Your Horns gives that track a likely future in tour setlists.

The story itself is pretty straightforward, with the hero joining the ultra-tough Jomsvikings after making his community too hot to hold him. Finding out, in the end, that his former girlfriend is not interested in him anymore, he rejoins the Jomsvikings for a final battle. There's a lot more battle than romance, though -- from the sound of the tracks (and the reaction of the lady, whose vocals are handled by Doro Pesch), Hegg's hero is probably not exactly the sensitive type. More time and guitar work is given to the funeral of the Jomsviking king in One Thousand Burning Arrows than Hegg's romantic inclinations, but Doro's always-strong vocals, only slightly processed, do give A Dream That Cannot Be a unique flavor. And the intricate guitar work of Back on Northern Shores, an long, epic-themed song that fades its riffs out slowly as the hero sinks below the waves, makes for a strong ending as well as one of the best pieces of melodic death metal on the album.

I wouldn't go so far as to say Amon Amarth is exploring new ground here, because I'm pretty sure this is the safest concept album I've ever seen a major band try out. But Amon Amarth has thrived on solid predictability, and it's not necessarily the worst thing in the world that they are primarily sticking to what they re good at.

Killing Songs :
First Kill, At Dawn’s First Light, Back on Northern Shores
Andy quoted 84 / 100
Other albums by Amon Amarth that we have reviewed:
Amon Amarth - Deceiver of the Gods reviewed by Jared and quoted 90 / 100
Amon Amarth - Surtur Rising reviewed by Kyle and quoted 82 / 100
Amon Amarth - The Avenger reviewed by Thomas and quoted 77 / 100
Amon Amarth - Twilight Of The Thunder God reviewed by Storm and quoted 96 / 100
Amon Amarth - With Oden On Our Side reviewed by Kayla and quoted 95 / 100
To see all 10 reviews click here
1 readers voted
Your quote was: 84.
Change your vote

There are 0 replies to this review. Last one on Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:05 am
View and Post comments