Amon Amarth Album Review – ‘Jomsviking’

 

The mighty Amon Amarth are back. It has been three years since their last album ‘Deceiver of the Gods’ hit the record stores. In the meantime they played a more than successful world tour promoting the album, Johan Hegg ventured into a new career as actor and finally the band lost their long-term drummer Frederik Andersson. The split with Andersson hasn’t really been commented on. For the recording of the new album they engaged Tobias Gustafsson as session musician. Now ‘Jomsviking’ is out.

‘Jomsviking’ is the tenth full-length album of Amon Amarth and their first concept album. Based on the 12th-century book ‘Jomsviking’ a young, disgraced Viking has to leave his home. In his struggle to fight for his way back and his love he joins the Jomsvikings, a legendary order of Viking mercenaries. After many battles he returns back  home just to find that the love of his live doesn’t want him anymore. This epic and cinematic story is the backdrop for the eleven songs. The album opener ‘First Kill’, previously released as a single, is classic Amon Amarth material. Majestic melodies, fast and hard riffing and the distinctive vocals of Johan Hegg let the listeners realise that this is going to be an exceptional album.

‘Jomsviking’ emanates an energy that was somewhat missing on the last two Amon Amarth album. Don’t get me wrong – ‘Sutur Rising’ and Deceiver of the Gods’ were two strong albums that 99% of all bands would be more than happy to have in their back catalogue. However, by Amon Amarth’s extremely high standards these albums were a bit stagnant. It seems that the aura of an epic, ancient story has ignited a whole different level in regards to song writing, energy and enthusiasm.

The strong impression of the first song is kept throughout the entire album. There is really no weak track on the album. It seems that it needed exactly these eleven songs to tell the story. What makes ‘Jomsviking’ one of the best albums in Amon Amarth’s career is that it is full of potential live hymns.  There is ‘Raise Your Horns’ that – after you listened to it once – appears to be a must for the set list of the upcoming shows. Then there is ‘The Way of the Vikings’ that has the potential to be another ‘Pursuit of Vikings’. Even the guest appearance of Doro on ‘A Dream That Cannot Be’ works. When I first heard about the collaboration I was a bit sceptical but Doro pulls it off as the true professional she is, mainly working with the smokier version of her vocals.

‘Jomsviking’ is the result of elaborate song writing and storytelling. The album has the potential to be one of the absolute genre classics. Time will tell how many of the songs will make it into the set list as a mainstay and how this album will be viewed as a whole. For the time being I am just going to enjoy a very strong contender for the album of the year.

9.5/10