Review Summary: Amon Amarth, this time with a bit of ambition.
It’s an achievement in itself that Amon Amarth was only starting to get boring by the time their ninth or tenth record of raging Viking themed melodeath rolled around. Not many bands could keep a bag featuring approximately one trick so entertaining for so long, and now it’s become Amon Amarth’s veritable legacy in a way. It’s safe to say not many expected anything new with Jomsviking
and early singles didn’t do much to disprove that theory. However, the crafted whole does feel a bit different in some small ways. For the first time, Amon Amarth have contorted their typical Viking theme into a concept story to drape across the record which lends a sense of grandeur to it. The music itself isn’t terribly different, but it does feel like it was written for the story rather than individual songs. And that makes all the difference really. It’s a more epic Amon Amarth, a bigger
Amon Amarth, dare I say a more ambitious Amon Amarth.
is some of the band’s most melodically inspired output in some time, perhaps even a little NWOBHM inspired at times. As far as guitars go, soaring harmonies and upper register melodies are the name of the game here. Not that Amon Amarth was known for being fast and heavy before, but old tracks like “Destroyer of the Universe” (from 2011’s Surtur Rising) showed some more aggressive tendencies. Still, songs like “On A Sea of Blood” show that the band has some riffs in them, but it’s not the focus here. No, Jomsviking
is very much narratively focused to look at it. One of the greatest aspects this shows itself in is vocalist Johan Hegg’s new use of spoken word passages. The man already had a well-respected range from raspy shrieks to guttural growls, and this only widens his repertoire, but one can wonder at how it came to be. Mostly I wonder if he implemented the technique to compliment some of the quieter moments in the band’s music, or if the music was a response to his new ideas. Either way, it’s one of the more tangible changes in the band’s sound here.
From opener “First Kill” to closing epic “Back on Northern Shores” Jomsviking
feels like an Amon Amarth with a little more direction and a little more vigor. Both of which were needed after Deceiver of the Gods
, possibly their weakest record to date for similar reasons. It’s an approach that relies on a melodic, mid-tempo approach, but it suits their narrative driven sound quite well. It’s still Amon Amarth, make no mistake about that. It’s not a night and day change no matter how much some may want it to be so. Regardless, ambition looks pretty good on Amon Amarth, in whatever small measure it shows itself.