Album Review: Amon Amarth’s Jomsviking Will Cleave You Right In Half
Ten. That’s how many times Amon Amarth have released an album that is the auditory equivalent of having your skull cleaved in half by a viking. It’s also the number of times after which you would think a band would start running out of ideas. And that’s also where you would be wrong. I feared that with their previous release, Deceiver of the Gods, the band may very well be running out of steam, but as I said, I was wrong. Jomsviking is Amon Amarth’s tenth studio release, and it’s easily the best thing they’ve put out since Twilight of the Thunder God.
As should come as no surprise to longtime fans of Amon Amarth, the band has not deviated from their musical routine of string skipping, tremolo picking and melodic guitar work. As you might have guessed from my earlier statement about Deceiver of the Gods, I wasn’t super fond of that album; it wasn’t terrible, but it also didn’t stand out to me in any way. A few tracks sounded like they came straight out of the Amon Amarth factory, but every track on Jomsviking except for “A Dream That Cannot Be” will burn down your village and kill all of the survivors. Jomsviking is fierce in pretty much every sense of the word, and if you don’t give it its due respect, it will crush you.
As far as sound goes, Jomsviking sounds like a mix of Twilight of the Thunder God and With Oden On Our Side. Listening to Jomsviking the first few times through reminded me a lot of those records, both of which are easily two of my favorite records ever. Hell, “Raise Your Horns” is so chuggy that it had me moshing and headbanging around in my living room like a madman. How chuggy, you ask? Chuggier than I am with a 30-rack on the weekend. I can shotgun a beer in a little over three seconds if that tells you anything. College done me good, I tell ya.
Amon Amarth took a few chances on this album, and for the most part, they paid off. The biggest and most immediately noticeable of those is the use of spoken dialogue on a few songs, “At Dawn’s First Light” and “Wanderer” to name a few. It makes the album feel cinematic in a sense, like it’s a story being told by an old viking warrior around a campfire. The risk that did not pay off was the use of female clean vocals in “A Dream That Cannot Be.” They did it in “Hel” on Deceiver, and it doesn’t really work in either case; it just contrasts with the rest of the music too much. That, however, is a kink in the armor of Jomsviking, and like any decent armor, one dent won’t let an axe through. Jomsviking is sure to satisfy Amon Amarth fans old and new and sure to rip the face off of any who are not ready.