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 Amon Amarth "Jomsviking"

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Posts : 217
Location : Southern Ontario, Canada

PostSubject: Amon Amarth "Jomsviking"   Sat Apr 09, 2016 3:24 pm

Amon Amarth Jomsviking 4.5/5

I've listened to Jomsviking every day in my car (and some at home) since it arrived in my mailbox March 29th. The guitar riffs reverberate in my head the whole time I'm working. I like it more and more each time I hear it.

Amon Amarth’s tenth album is a concept album. Lead vocalist Johan Hegg:
“It’s a pretty simple story where a young man is in love with a girl but unfortunately she’s being married off,” Hegg explains. “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.” Hegg continues: “The story of the Jomsvikings is the background — it’s the way he finds to go back and claim his revenge. The way the story evolves is not a happy story….it’s a tragedy, I guess! But I like sad endings, because they are ones that affect you the most.”
Hold on! Are we talking romance from Amon Amarth? Am I reviewing the right band and album? Fear not friends and fans. The first stanza from the opening track, First Kill, will put your fears to rest:
“The first man I killed
Was the earl’s right-hand man
When he came to take her away
I ran a sword straight through his throat
And I stood there, watching him fall”
Phew! Lyrically, the band wastes no time reminding everyone who we are listening to. Nothing like a little familiar brutality to help us sleep at night knowing that Amon Amarth is….well Amon AmarthWhat about sound? Are Johan Hegg’s matchless growls in peak form? Yep! Melodic twin leads from Johan Söderberg and Olavi Mikkonen? Yep! Brutally Heavy Crunching Metal riffs from the duo? Yep! Steady precise drumming from Tobias Gustafsson (ex-Vomitory) after the departure of Fredrik Andersson last year? Yep! Precision thumping bass from Ted Lundström? Yep! Finally, and most important, are the songs of quality? Yes! Yes! Yes! Not a weak one among the 10 songs that comprise the album.
This is the familiar melodic death metal sound Amon Amarth has relied upon since the beginning. Some might criticize the band for not innovating or changing or pushing boundaries but I’m not one of them. Some bands need to stay the course in terms of their sound and style and in my opinion Amon Amarth is in that category. Kudos for not changing to suit the conceptual thread woven throughout the album but rather for crafting a detailed story within the context of their distinctive style. High marks for this accomplishment! Bravo! Just like for Deceiver of The Gods and integral to keeping Amon Amarth on course, Andy Sneap again recorded, produced and mixed an extremely slick album. Bravo Andy! Finally, kudos to the cover art by Todd Thiel; totally epic!
After the murder our outcast hero flees and experiences great loneliness (Wanderer) until he joins the Jomsvikings. The Jomsvikings are an elite mercenary group for hire to the highest bidder. After many adventures, battles and perils (On A Sea of Blood, One Against All, Raise Your Horns, The Way of Vikings, At Dawn’s First Light, One Thousand Burning Arrows), he returns to seek his revenge and reclaim his lover (A Dream That Cannot Be). Only one problem: she (the part sung by Metal Queen Doro Pesch) wants nothing to do with him and, in typical shield maiden bravado, threatens to kill him if he doesn’t get lost! The album ends with him returning to the only thing worth fighting for: the Jomsvikings (Back On Northern Shores).
All tracks display that mix of heavy ruthlessness and melodic splendor. Two of my favourites on the album are Wanderer and On A Sea of Blood. They exhibit the reason I liked Amon Amarth from the first time I heard them: the melodic rhythms and riffs. Not surprising coming from Olavi in particular. A carpenter by trade, that skill with his hands translates into the melodic and epic quality of his playing. Never more true than one these two tracks. Raise Your Horns is a great drinking song of camaraderie that comes from the life and death situations of the profession of the Jomsvikings. Should make for a great song for the audience to show their voice at a live show. The somber One Thousand Burning Arrows captures musically the emotive power of the Viking royal funeral for a much beloved king. Don’t worry about shedding a tear or three…the vocals and guitars are that sorrowful. Finally, A Dream That Cannot Be has a true sense of character with the guest appearance by the great Doro Pesch. The sad tragedy of this young man’s life is complete.
Jomsviking from Amon Amarth is familiar, reliable and melodic death metal. Just the way we need it!
“Raise your horns, raise them up to the sky!
We will drink to glory tonight!
Raise your horns, for brave fallen friends!
We will meet where the beer never ends!”
--Raise Your Horns
© 2016

Brian Kelman

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