REVIEW: AMON AMARTH – “Jomsviking”
Amon Amarth have given fans a few good reasons to fix their gaze upon them this year. Its positive reception aside, their studio silence since 2013’s ‘Deceiver of the Gods’ has left a long three years since the group’s last release. As if a long awaited new album was not enough to warrant fan’s excitement, the question of who is filling the position behind the kit since their split with Fredrik Andersson has remained unanswered as well; that is, until now. Welcoming their new drummer Tobias Gustafsson (Vomitory), along with the release of their new album ‘Jomsviking’ in the coming months, Amon Amarth have kicked off 2016 off at full-throttle.
Even before their change in line-up, the band had wanted their next album to be a concept album. It was something they had never done before, and they welcomed the appealing idea and the challenge that it brought. The songs collectively tell a story inspired by the Viking mercenaries of its title. Conceived and written by lead vocalist, he has stated that the story of ‘Jomsviking’ “lies in the background”, and is a story of love, death and revenge that ultimately ends in tragedy; an ending that suits the frontman as he says “I like sad endings. They’re the ones that affect you most”.
‘Jomsviking’ opens strong with the lead single, “First Kill”, blasting from start to finish with sharp melodies and mighty rhythm sections leaving no doubt that Amon Amarth have awoken from their post-victory hiatus. The remaining tracks follow suit and before long, the rebellious chants and anthems are introduced. Standout numbers such as “One Against All,” and the battle-ready “Raise Your Horns” show the band at their best. With their catalogue in mind, guitarist Olavi Mikkonen acknowledges the large milestone that comes with making a tenth album and embraces it as “really needing” and “rising to a challenge“, with the band never backing down. As the albums continues, and concludes, it is evident as ‘Jomsviking’ assaults the senses. From soaring duets with Doro Pesch (legendary solo artist and former front-woman of Warlock) on “A Dream That Cannot Be,” to the bittersweet conclusion of this story with “Back on Northern Shores,” this Viking adventure comes to a satisfying end.
The level of effort that went into telling this story and treating the music as a score to support it does not go unnoticed. Whether individually or as a collective, the tracks here work well in both respects. The added factor that the songs act both as singular tracks that can unite to tell a story make it so that there is more than one way to listen to this album, adding to the already many enjoyable layers found here.
Whether it be within a great hall, eating and drinking among fellow Vikings, or in a packed venue chanting and moshing (and most likely drinking, too), ‘Jomsviking’ makes for a perfect fit, showing that Amon Amarth have not deviated from their original trademark sound, but instead have evolved with it. Mighty, melodic, and full of good storytelling, there is little fault to find in this album. It is both aggressive and greatly celebratory. And celebrate they should, as ‘Jomsviking’ stands among their best “in death, in glory,” and in the band’s rich legacy. ‘Jomsviking’ will be released on March 25th via Metal Blade Records.