Everyone’s favourite Viking death metal band are back with Jomsviking. The album art is typically brutal, but does the album live up to the front cover? Short answer, yes. You want the long answer? Carry on reading.
Jomsviking is a heavy album. It’s not stupidly brutal, but those hoping for the lead singer to sing for once will be left disappointed. Right off the bat you’ll notice that the record is full of brilliant riffs, making for more than a few memorable numbers. None come quite as memorable as Raise Your Horns however. Amon Amarth were onto a winner when they wrote that one. It’s catchy, energetic, and brutal. Plus, it’s easy to sing along to live (I should know).
Other tracks here are great additions to the band’s history too, such as On a Sea of Blood, The Way of Vikings, Vengeance is My Name and At Dawn’s First Light. This is a fun record. It’s a largely consistent album, too as it represents the band’s first concept piece. The record follows the story ‘of a young man that is in love with a girl but unfortunately she’s being married off. He accidentally kills a man when this happens and he has to flee — but he swears to have revenge and win her back. He can’t let go of the past. He feels that he’s been wronged and his life has been destroyed. The way the story evolves is not a happy story’ (Johan Hegg, Blabbermouth).
It’s a pleasant tale of course. Filled with bloodshed in all the right places. The switch to a concept album allows the record to stick to a theme, which helps lyrics and all other manners of the song-writing. Jomsviking may not be quite as brutal as older Amon Amarth records, mixing in more melodic sections than ever before, but I preferred the shift. The band’s older records had a tendency of running their course before you finished listening to them. Jomsviking certainly provides a stronger, more interesting listen the whole way through as compared to Amon Amarth’s previous efforts.
I’ve enjoyed listening through the record more than a few times by now, and only one track stands out as a particular disappointment. A Dream That Cannot Be. Nothing against Doro Pesch, but her vocals clash with the overall tone and feel of Jomsviking. She feels unfortunately out of place in an otherwise well crafted album. By no means does her inclusion ruin the record, but it does let down the track to some extent which is otherwise a particularly solid effort.
Jomsviking offers a little bit of a change of pace for the death metal Viking maestros. There is a bit more melody, but no less punch. The record is solid throughout, thanks to a greater feeling of theme and consistency. Doro Pesch’s vocals may be slightly out of place towards the end, but they don’t stop this from being Amon Amarth’s best. They’ve got a new party tune on their hands with Raise Your Horns too, seriously.