Pillaging its way through your speakers comes Amon Amarth’s latest album Jomsviking, written by big beardy blokes for big beardy blokes. While their past two efforts were still of reasonably good quality the Swedish death metallers have struggled to recapture the form shown on 2008’s Twilight of the Thunder God. However, with their latest release Amon Amarth have seemingly tapped into what made them one of the most exciting bands in melodic death metal once again.
Jomsviking wastes no time instantly kicking into a twin attack of old school metal guitar harmonies backed by the thunderous bark of the bands signature guitar sound. As the opening track First Kill certainly sets the tone for what’s to come delivering a cavalcade of pummelling riffs combining speed, melody and technical precision. Amon Amarth again prove their ability to write a killer chorus which batters you with its brutality along with infecting you with its enormous shout a long style hooks. While songs like First Kill and On a Sea of Blood bring the speed songs like Wander certainly provide Jomsviking with an earth shattering stomp. That low end chug and melodious guitar work is synonymous with the Swedish death metal scene and songs like One Against All really take you back to bands like At the Gates and early In Flames. Due to the music being so brain meltingly brutal the intricate harmonies and melodies provided by the guitars become really important in adding a certain degree of diversity to the thick and dense sound.
Some of the riffs on this record are some of the best the band have ever written and no other album this year has made a better soundtrack for marching into battle. The beefiness of the guitars and bass is really prevalent with the production being really key in giving this album such a monstrous sound. This is a heavy metal album through and through both musically and thematically. If you are already well indoctrinated into the world of Amon Amarth then the subject matter on this record will come as no surprise. One look at Jomsviking’s album artwork will essentially tell you all you need to know.
Surprisingly this is the first time the band have dipped their toe into making a concept record, vocalist Johan Hegg summarises the albums tale as one of a warrior’s revenge in his quest to win back a girl’s love. Following a story through the means of death metal isn’t always the easiest but due to the impressive way in which Johan Hegg manages to annunciate every word clearly through his thunderous roar allows you to be well aware of exactly what’s going on. Unfortunately, an element of corniness seeps into this record with some songs turning up the cringe levels just a tad too far. The song Raise your Horns immediately comes to mind as its chorus is chockfull of heavy metal stereotypes from throwing up the metal horns to chugging endless amounts of beer. However, it’s also important to remember how ridiculous metal can be as a genre and ultimately this cheesiness just adds to the records fun.
The only real complaint to have with this album is one that happens to plague a lot of Amon Amarth’s records. Somewhere around the halfway point a certain level of fatigue begins to set in as some songs begin to blur together into one long continuous void of formulaic death metal. There are attempts by the band to change up their sound in certain areas including passages of female vocals and spoken word sections but unfortunately they seem to fall somewhat flat. Overall this is still a great melodic death metal record and Jomsviking is one of the highlights of this year’s current crop of metal albums. If your already a fan of the band then you’ll undoubtedly love it and for the uninitiated there is still plenty here to sink your teeth into.