Reviewed by Brian Kelman
© Ethereal Metal Webzine
I’ve listened to Jomsviking
every day in my car (and some at home) since it arrived in my
mailbox March 29th. The guitar riffs
reverberate in my head the whole time I’m
working. I like it more and more each time I hear it.
Amon Amarth’s tenth album is a concept album. Lead vocalist
“It’s a pretty simple
story where a young man is in love with a girl but unfortunately she’s being married off,” Hegg
explains. “He accidentally kills a man
when this happens and he has to flee. But he swears to have revenge and win her back. He can’t let go of
the past. He feels that he’s been
wronged and his life has been destroyed.” Hegg continues: “The story of the Jomsvikings is the background —
it’s the way he finds to go back and
claim his revenge. The way the story evolves is not a happy story….it’s a tragedy, I guess! But I like
sad endings, because they are ones that
affect you the most.”
Hold on! Are we talking romance from Amon Amarth? Am I
reviewing the right band and album? Fear not friends and fans. The first stanza
from the opening track, First Kill, will put your fears to rest:
“The first man I killed
Was the earl’s right-hand man
When he came to take her away
I ran a sword straight through his throat
And I stood there, watching him fall”
Phew! Lyrically, the band wastes no time reminding everyone
who we are listening to. Nothing like a little familiar brutality to help us
sleep at night knowing that Amon Amarth is….well Amon Amarth! What about sound?
Are Johan Hegg’s matchless growls in
peak form? Yep! Melodic twin leads from
Johan Söderberg and Olavi Mikkonen? Yep! Brutally Heavy Crunching Metal riffs from the duo? Yep! Steady precise
drumming from Tobias Gustafsson
(ex-Vomitory) after the departure of
Fredrik Andersson last year? Yep! Precision thumping bass from Ted Lundström? Yep! Finally, and most important,
are the songs of quality? Yes! Yes! Yes!
Not a weak one among the 10 songs that comprise the album.
This is the familiar melodic death metal sound Amon
Amarth has relied upon since the
beginning. Some might criticize the band for
not innovating or changing or pushing boundaries but I’m not one of them. Some bands need to stay the course in
terms of their sound and style and in my
opinion Amon Amarth is in that category.
Kudos for not changing to suit the conceptual thread woven throughout the album but rather for crafting
a detailed story within the context of
their distinctive style. High marks for this accomplishment! Bravo! Just like for Deceiver of The Gods and
integral to keeping Amon Amarth on
course, Andy Sneap again recorded, produced and mixed an extremely slick album. Bravo Andy! Finally, kudos to
the cover art by Todd Thiel; totally
After the murder our outcast hero flees and experiences
great loneliness (Wanderer) until he
joins the Jomsvikings. The Jomsvikings are an elite mercenary group for hire to the highest bidder. After
many adventures, battles and perils (On
A Sea of Blood, One Against All, Raise Your Horns, The Way of Vikings, At
Dawn’s First Light, One Thousand Burning Arrows), he returns to seek his
revenge and reclaim his lover (A Dream That Cannot Be). Only one problem: she (the part sung by Metal
Queen Doro Pesch) wants nothing to do
with him and, in typical shield maiden bravado, threatens to kill him if he doesn’t get lost! The album
ends with him returning to the only thing
worth fighting for: the Jomsvikings (Back On Northern Shores).
All tracks display that mix of heavy ruthlessness and
melodic splendor. Two of my favourites on the album are Wanderer and On A Sea
of Blood. They exhibit the reason I liked Amon Amarth from the first time I heard them: the melodic
rhythms and riffs. Not surprising coming
from Olavi in particular. A carpenter by trade, that skill with his hands translates into the
melodic and epic quality of his playing.
Never more true than one these two tracks. Raise Your Horns is a great drinking song of camaraderie that
comes from the life and death situations
of the profession of the Jomsvikings. Should make for a great song for the audience to show their
voice at a live show. The somber One
Thousand Burning Arrows captures musically the emotive power of the Viking royal funeral for a much
beloved king. Don’t worry about shedding
a tear or three…the vocals and guitars are that
sorrowful. Finally, A Dream That Cannot Be has a true sense of character with the guest appearance by the
great Doro Pesch. The sad tragedy of
this young man’s life is complete.
Jomsviking from Amon Amarth is familiar, reliable and
melodic death metal. Just the way we need it!
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
“Raise your horns,
raise them up to the sky!
We will drink to
Raise your horns,
for brave fallen friends!
We will meet where
the beer never ends!
— Raise Your Horns