Jomsviking review by Amon Amarth

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  • Released: Mar 25, 2016
  • Sound: 6
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 6
  • Reviewer's score: 6.7 Neat
  • Users' score: 7.7 (26 votes)
Amon Amarth: Jomsviking
1

Sound — 6
Swedish metal veterans Amon Amarth return once more from the snowy wastes to give us their 10th album, something of a landmark these days for long running bands. Even Metallica don't have ten albums yet, what gives?

Anyway, renowned for their approachable and instantly recognisable melodic death metal style, Amon Amarth have kept to a consistency that kind of covers all the best bases for a respectable, popular metal band: memorable riffs, songs that translate well live and in the studio, not so straight-forward as to be generic but with a few defining traits that make them stick out (for example, signature production sound, trem picked melodic sections, etc).

"Jomsviking" sees the group attempting something ever so slightly different from their previous release "Deceiver of the Gods." Rather than simply have "an album with viking themes," "Jomsviking" goes for a somewhat conceptual approach. It tells the story of a man who murders in an act of revenge, then gets driven from his home. Although it was touted as a "concept album" before release, that isn't really the case. Often a concept album tends to become a somewhat grandiose and experimental affair whereas Amon Amarth aren't really of the volition to do something as left-field.

Instead, the album is basically the same sort of thing we've been hearing since "With Oden on Our Side" except a little bit worse. A little bit worse in the sense that with every recent album, there's been a slew of varied tracks in each one. On "Jomsviking," the main problem is that the majority of these songs are mid-tempo, thudding and meandering typecastings of the most middling of Amon Amarth songs.

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Some do attempt to bring some of that "Twilight of the Thunder God" energy in, such as the first and last track, but many of these are the kind of after-show drinking songs like "Varyags of Miklagaard" that don't do much else. One could hope for another "Destroyer of the Universe" or "Where Is Your God?" but one is left with a sad face.

There isn't a whole lot to say on the sound of a new Amon Amarth album. They've established a brilliantly simple concoction of elements together to sound unique, almost untouchable. It's often a surprise to hear anything out of the ordinary for the band (for instance, Apocalyptica on "Live From the Kill") and those moments are minimal and somewhat forgetful on "Jomsviking." Considering the somewhat darker and more explosive sound of "Surtur Rising," their current musical direction hasn't been as invigorating. It's not that this album is bad, it's that it's not to the same standard that the last four have been.

Lyrics — 8
Johann Hegg is Johan Hegg. One of the most iconic death metal vocalists of the last ten years is certainly no small claim but it's a true one. He has the kind of soul rending, wolf-like snarl that actually gives their overall thematic direction (vikings doing viking-ish viking stuff) a sense of tangible reality, as if they really are going on a raid to plunder some women and rape treasures.

One of the few stand-out moments on this album is the track "A Dream That Cannot Be" which features the legendary Doro Pesch as a complex counter-character to Heggs hero of the story. The song itself isn't especially interesting but the vocal play between the two is a good addition.

Lyrically, the afore-mentioned concept/story is a bit standard but it gets told fairly well. Listening to the album from start to finish does feel like a story was told convincingly, it's just that on their own, the songs bend too much to the lyrical concept to be individually interesting. The spoken word moments kind of make it a bit too tied together and there's not much else aside those moments that really jumps out.

Overall Impression — 6
It is only really possible to compare Amon Amarth to themselves, unique sounding as they are. When doing so, their older work is far more varied, energetic, even relatively progressive for the band (for instance, ballad "Doom Over Dead Man") while this concept album presents the least interesting facets of Amon Amarth's sound in a competent but uncompelling manner.

Songs to look out for: "At Dawns First Light," "First Kill," "Back on the Northern Shores."

36 comments sorted by best / new / date

    MetalRock4ever
    I find it quite funny about this is a review for Amon Amarth, but on the UG home page, it's got a Pierce the Veil album cover instead of the Amon Amarth one. I can see how they could have got the two mixed up (!)
    HardAttack
    I was literally about to say does somebody want to tell me why there's a pierce the veil logo on top of this article link? Somebody on the review team must have an itchy trigger finger.
    Humbug808
    They're the AC/DC of Death Metal. You know what you're going to get with Amon Amarth, why fix whats not broken? I'm glad they tried something just slightly different, but I think any one of these songs could have been on the last three albums. I love the album artwork though!
    pressureproject
    Not sure why that's a bad thing these days. I like consistency. Imagine if Mustaine made half a dozen more Rust In Peace albums.
    redgravegilver
    Except all those second rate Rust In Peace copy paste won't have the same impact and catharsis because albums like that only happens once. You just wanted a happy meal get served to you. Consistency in musical style doesn't mean consistency in quality. Slayer is the living proof of that. I'd rather have bands experiment even though it's a failure(Still commendable) than a band that keeps making the same album over and over again. That's just boring.
    pressureproject
    I didn't say "copy paste" Rust in Peace songs. Slayer wasn't consistent. They got weaker as time went on - not a good comparison. The complete 180 Mustaine did after RIP was sickening. I remember being a kid and everybody else was like...man, this fucking sucks...when Countdown came out. Just like Metallica's Black Album. Shows after 1991 had frat boys in polo shirts standing around. It truly sucked.
    redgravegilver
    What I meant of SLayer being consistent, it's on their musical style, not necessarily the quality of their albums(Which got shitty either way after Seasons). Aside from Diabolous, they haven't really branched out from other styles of music aside from thrash. Also it's kinda cool how you are only one of the few Megadeth fans that I have seen whom have acknowledge Megadeth sucks after RIP. Everybody goes gung-ho over Load and Reload but Youthanasia, Crypting writings and fucking Risk for me are even worse. But hey then again I forgot that Dave Mustaine is GOD LMAO
    Peres.T.Peanut
    This album was ok-ish. For a concept album it sure as hell doesn't sound as cohesive as one would expect, even though I agree they sometimes compromise the songs to fit the narrative. This album deffinitly lacks hooks, some songs are just instantly forgotten the moment they end. I like that they are trying to branch out, even if they kind of fail. I honestly think they did all there was to do in their previous styles.
    Sharp155
    Most memorable songs from the album imo are On A Sea Of Blood One Against All Raise Your Horns (that riff and rhythm to it kicks ass) Vengeance Is My Name Wanderer also gets a mention. Seeing them live tonight for the first time so I'm pumped.
    Cavalcade
    Easily worth it just for Back On Northern Shores. That is one hell of a song. Good thing too, because nothing else really grabs me.
    ATRisCOOL
    I think its great that a band can keep their signature sound and still pump out new material. I see a lot of comments of this nature "sounds like an Amon Amarth album." Yes, its easy to tell that these are AA songs. But it is no where near as bad as it could be. Compare this to Godsmack, Dragonforce, Slayer, Breaking Benjamin sound entirely too similar throughout multiple albums. I'm very happy with this album.
    Charlie4
    "a sense of tangible reality, as if they really are going on a raid to plunder some women and rape treasures." That was carefully worded eh? Vikings, the gentleman of the sea. Pretty ironic if you think about it. Tell it like it is. They conquer, they kill, they rape and plunder the riches. No bullsh!t, that's just the nature of any conquest, always was, always will be. Buzzkill signing out...
    redgravegilver
    I think this is their best one since Twilight. Johan said that there are possibilities of clean vocals in Amon Amarth and it's a shame it didn't make it way to this album(No I'm not including Doro's shitty vocals) considering it's theme and it's ending, it could give the album more dynamic and emotional depth. Then again, depends whether Johan can decently sing. But hey gotta satisfy the fanboys and make it less controversial considering how metal heads react on clean vocals like it's the end of the world lol
    HardAttack
    I enjoyed this album (as I have with all of theirs thus far). I would say the top 3 albums for me would be Verses The World, Surtur Rising and Deceiver of The Gods; in that order. This album is growing on me slowly. 'One Thousand Burning Arrows' is clearly the standout track on this album for me thus far.
    natemedeni
    [deleted]
    natemedeni · May 26, 2016 06:07 AM
    costatiago198
    Wow... production wise, this album has a lot better sound than some previous albums which drown in reverb. Not only that, I believe that people are overlooking the fact that the album is telling a story, and they are serving the story. It's not just music but also imagery. You can actually understand everything that Johan is saying, then it's just case of liking the themes or not. I think the album is pretty kick ass. And got to see them playing At Dawns First Light live, which kicks major tail. Sorry if someone was expecting another band.
    jmcsparty
    I thought this Album was actually a pretty solid performer. I watched the interview with Johan and he explained that they were sticking with Old Norweigan or Viking mythology by making this Album a story. They did that and it sounds solid in my opinion. There was a theme to the Album with their classic sound, nothing wrong with that. A couple of the songs I really didn't like (A Dream That Cannot Be, Way of the Viking) but I mean compare that to any other band. One Against All, First Kill and At Dawns First Light are great tunes. I think everyone is being too Harsh on this Album.
    vIsIbleNoIsE
    i miss the older stuff (even up to Surtur Rising), when they did more of the heroic melody stuff with clear harmonic progressions. there's still some of that here, but it's buoyed by a bunch of unremarkable thrash riffs and power metal stylings that any other band could also do.