» Blog Archive Amon Amarth Raid Again With Concept Album -
Evan Conway Hard Music, News, Reviews

AmonAmarthJomsvikingAmon Amarth need no introduction. Sure, they’re not the first band to sing about vikings and mythology, and nor are the first melo death band to do it either, but they’re like Motorhead in death metal form: you know what you’re getting and that’s totally okay. The past three years have been titanic for the band, though: Deceiver of the Gods landed them a spot on Mayhem Festival with the likes of Mastodon, Five Finger Death Punch, and Rob Zombie, and have since  gone on to becoming a massive band in both North America. Even when I saw them headline in New York with Sabaton and Vallenfyre, they managed to bring over their viking ship stage prop for the show, making it a memorable experience. (A bloody nose after taking a boot to the face helps, too)

Now after that entire touring cycle, the band have reemerged with Jomsviking. By the time Deceiver of the Gods rolled out, long time fans were aware of exactly what Amon Amarth was capable of, yet they always managed to play it safe with every release. Even ignoring that, Deceiver was not their best effort, but was doing a solid job of spreading their name, So now the band has done what is arguably the smartest decision for their tenth album, and that is making Jomsviking a concept album.

It very much plays out like you would expect: viking mercenary fights and details about his life are given throughout the album, very much obvious from the opening track “First Kill.” The metaphorical ship leaves the harbor and its crew goes for the jugular with a battle axe, starting things off on the right note.amon amarth

Jomsviking feels fresh for Amon Amarth, with the narrative giving a new sense of flow throughout. Even with that flow, there is the sense of familiarity in the songs, with some instances of branching out. “Raise Your Horns” is a viking drinking song if there ever was one, carrying over folk metal rhythms and melodies on the guitar, and built from the ground up for a live setting. Songs continue the anthemic styling of typical Amon Amarth, and you will no doubt have songs stuck in your head afterwards, be it an infectious but brutal chorus or a highly melodic guitar lead.

Generally with Amon Amarth albums, there is always one song that I find to be blatantly better than the rest and among their finer work. Continuing with this trend, “The Way of Vikings” is something special, as it feels empowering in its delivery, but destructive by how mercilessly heavy it is. It’s perplexing that Amon Amarth would not have released this track in the promotion leading up to the album, but you couldn’t honestly blame the band for wanting to save the best surprise for the album.

Production wise, it’s obvious things sound better and tighter than they did on Deceiver. I still hold a firm belief that Twilight of the Thunder God was the band’s best production job overall, but Jomsviking has a great sound to it and everything is mixed to utmost perfection. Almost, anyways. One gripe I’ve found is that the lead guitar on the chorus of “At Dawn’s First Light” is poorly mixed and doesn’t gel with what’s going on around it. It almost becomes sensory overload and pushing it back in the mix would have made it easier to digest. Regardless, everything else besides that instance sound generally like a well done Amon Amarth album. Even if you cannot enjoy the band, you can’t deny how great their albums sound.

Amon Amarth 2With that in mind, haters won’t be turning heads with Jomsviking. Granted it is a solid album and new territory for the band by featuring a concept, but a first listen is without a doubt going to leave people inclined to believe that Amon Amarth haven’t done much to change things up. I found with Jomsviking that with every listen, it becomes more cohesive, the concept becomes more prominent, and more of the layers start to peel back, There certainly is more to this album than any previous work, and I mean that figuratively and literally: it’s their longest album by about five minutes and the most tracks present, too, but also on a deeper level of the violent storytelling.

Jomsviking is definitely the refresher that Amon Amarth needed to make happen. I enjoy having a concept to join their album, as it just seems so right to begin with. While not an entire reinvention of their sound, it keeps things interesting while opening up plentiful opportunities for the future. It’s not unlikely to think Amon Amarth won’t venture out to do another concept album in the future, but maybe we’ll be blessed enough for Amon Amarth to write an actual viking metal song for a change. One can dream, right?

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qw5G6fF-wqQ[/youtube]

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