Sunday, March 27, 2016

Amon Amarth - Jomsviking

Amon Amarth, the band that basically invented "viking metal" is back, and for their 10th studio album, they've upped the ante and gone full viking. Jomsviking isn't just a collection of songs about vikings though; it's the band's first concept album. Jomsviking allegedly tells the story of a young man whose love is married off to another man. In his anger, he kills a man, and is exiled for his crime. He joins up with the Jomsvikings and swears revenge on those he believes wronged him. But when he returns (in "A Dream That Cannot Be"), he finds out that the object of his love has moved on and is very happy with her current situation. I say "allegedly" because a good 80% of the time, you're not paying any attention to the lyrics of any given Amon Amarth album. I'm just relaying what Amon Amarth frontman Johan Hegg has said in interviews about this album.

Anyway, enough about the background. That's not what you're here for. And the verdict is... um.. something.

Here's the problem. I do generally like Amon Amarth, I really do. They're not one of my favorite bands by any stretch of the imagination, but they're very solid. However "solid" doesn't tend to stand out too much. I've listened to the album three times through as of when I started writing this review (currently on my fourth go through), and every time I've tried to really listen, it's just kind of played through and left very little impression on me.

There are the occasional tracks that stand out though. For instance, "Raise Your Horns" is pretty much destined to be a headbanging concert staple for years to come, and "The Way of Vikings" is one hell of a pump-up song if you do any kind of martial art. "A Dream That Cannot Be" is the only somewhat grating song on the album, and that's only because the vocalist they got to voice the supposed love object doesn't sound particularly good to me. However, it is pretty satisfying to have a song in which this woman is telling a guy who has put her up on a pedestal for years to fuck right off. Still not a particularly good song though.

Overall, the album goes down pretty smooth, which is what I expect from a good but not great Amon Amarth album. You don't listen to Amon Amarth for poetic, thoughtful lyrics, or even for brilliant songwriting and musicianship. You listen to Amon Amarth because they're a god damn lot of fun. This album represents a bit of a shift for them though, in that it focuses a bit less on being a full album of epic pump-up viking and Norse mythology-based songs. And while Jomsviking certainly doesn't come close to With Oden On Our Side (my favorite Amon Amarth album), it represents a solid middle-of-the-road effort for these veterans of melodic death metal.

Jomsviking doesn't do anything groundbreakingly new. But that's fine; it doesn't have to. Amon Amarth knows their niche, and they hit it pretty solidly with this latest effort.

Final verdict: 3.5 iron atoms

No comments:

Post a Comment