New from Swedish death metal band Amon Amarth is their tenth studio album, entitled “Jomsviking”.
Originating from a previous band named Scum, Amon Amarth came into being in the early 90s with a line-up of vocalist Johan Hegg, guitarists Anders Hansson and Olavi Mikkonen, bassist Ted Lundström and drummer Martin Lopez.
The group’s debut album “Once Sent From The Golden Hall” was released in early 1998. Hansson and Lopez left the band the following year, to be replaced by Johan Söderberg and Fredrik Andersson respectively. This new line-up would remain stable until 2015 when drummer Andersson departed.
Joining Hegg, Mikkonen, Lundström and Söderberg on the new record is session drummer Tobias Gustafsson.
Long associated with the Viking metal genre, the band’s material is more accurately termed death metal, or even melodic death metal, with the lyrical themes of Norse and Viking mythology and pre-Christian times the reason that the band are often labelled Viking metal.
“Jomsviking” is a concept album that was inspired by the legendary Viking mercenary order Jomsvikings who operated in the tenth and eleventh centuries. A pagan group who worshipped Thor and Odin, they would fight for whomever could afford their not insubstantial fees.
Hegg took this as his springboard to come up with a story that, written as a screenplay, eventually took form as the band’s latest and most ambitious album. The tale itself concerns a man who wants to run away with the woman he loves (who just happens to be promised to another) but when he kills the Earl’s right-hand man during their attempt to get away the woman decides not to go and so he ends up joining the Jomsvikings. There is, however, a twist in the tale…
Produced by Andy Sneap, the album was preceded by lead single “First Kill” which kicks the record off and gives an excellent taste of the sound of the whole album. As usual Sneap has done an excellent job. Each instrument is clear and punchy and the album positively shines, such is the sonic sheen that adorns the record.
Personal highlights here would include “Wanderer” with it’s Iron Maiden-esque twin guitar intro, the fabulous “Raise Your Horns” – very definitely a Viking metal tune – “At Dawns First Light”, “Vengeance Is My Name” and the closing “Back On Northern Shores”. Elsewhere “A Dream That Cannot Be” features legendary German metal singer Doro Pesch, putting in a trademark performance as the object of the protagonist’s affections.
1. First Kill / 2. Wanderer / 3. On A Sea Of Blood / 4. One Against All / 5. Raise Your Horns / 6. The Way Of Vikings / 7. At Dawn’s First Light / 8. One Thousand Burning Arrows / 9. Vengeance Is My Name / 10. A Dream That Cannot Be / 11. Back On Northern Shores