[J] Now, I’m probably a bit late to the party in terms of reviewing this album. This is merely due to other commitments outside of Moshville requiring more attention than normal. Eventually, I managed to find some time to get a good listen in to this album and well… It’s interesting.
The album almost doesn’t feel like an Amon Amarth album in the classic sense. That’s because it doesn’t have those super speed melodic riffs that were ever so prevalent on albums like: The Crusher and Twilight of The Thunder God. It does however follow on from the previous album in terms of the progression towards a more traditional metal sound rather than the death metal that they were known for.
Opening the album with the first single of the album, the aptly titled “First Kill” introduces the story of the album rather well and also shows what is to come on the album in terms of music. Melodic riffs, a range of different drumming styles and the roars of vocalist Johan Hegg all combine to create this rather unique package. [/J]
[Mel] The opening track “First Kill” keeps a very Amon Amarth feel, with a melodic aspect and keeping the heavy vocals as a perfect contrast. The song also brings a very powerful and enjoyable breakdown which makes the song more pushed towards the power without the heavier aspect Amon Amarth usually brings. Overall a good opener bringing a lot of expectations to the album as to what can come next.[/Mel]
[J] The album then follows on with one of my personal favourites from the album: “Wanderer”. It’s the sort of track that you could have playing in the background whilst you’re exploring a new world/place in a kind of D&D game. Having an overall slower pace than the first track, it shows that the guys can not only write super speed crushing metal tracks, but that they can also write metal anthems that can be sung out at many a festival. [/J]
[M] The next track “Wanderer” is a very different track from the usual fast, heavy Amon Amarth, and yet is probably one of the most memorable tunes of the album. The song keeps a very constant groovy riff which keeps you head-banging until the very last second. The song is not as technical, not even very much in the solo but makes up for this in its heaviness in that one simple riff. It’s a brilliant track which will probably break walls at live shows and I know in time will earn its place in one of my personal top tunes of the band, a very surprising and awesome follow up to the previous track. [/M]
[J] The album then leads on with the similar anthemic tracks: “On a Sea Blood” and “One Against all”. Both having a mixture of slightly quicker sections along with catchy grooving riffs, they make for enjoyable listens but I still can’t shake the fact that they could have had something to make them just that bit more memorable. That being said, the gang vocals in the chorus for “One Against All” are a nice touch. [/J]
[M] “On a Sea Blood” follows which is a much more usual Amon Amarth formula. That being said, there is nothing wrong with well-known Amon Amarth, but I think from the last track I did want a bit more of a new touch to the song. Nonetheless the song still has a really catchy riff throughout and the vocals hold up great as expected by Amon Amarth; the solo being very melodic also adds to a great Amon Amarth tune.
This is next followed by “One Against All” which in my opinion, again being a great song, stays very “known Amon Amarth”. The backing vocals are enjoyable and make it great live-made song, a catchy riff with the vocals one can only love. The song also benefits from a short heavy breakdown which does a slight touch to the song and make it slightly more memorable than the last tune.[/M]
[J] Now onto what is one of the best tracks on the album in my opinion, “Raise Your Horns”. With a title like that, I can just imagine people at festivals raising their overpriced drinking horns into the sky as they belt out the lyrics of the chorus. “Raise your horns, raise them up to sky…” I can almost guarantee that this track will go down a storm live and that there will be a lot of merry drunken folk after this track plays. [/J]
[M] next up “Raise Your Horns” which gave me a very similar feeling to “Wanderer” just as a heavier tune, a very catchy constant riff throughout the verse and bridge. The song also benefits from a very melodic chorus which brings a great contrast to the tune and make it more memorable than the previous two. The vocals remain as heavy throughout the song and the song as a whole just seems to work perfectly. The “humming” breakdown makes the apprehension of hearing this as a live tune just as mouth-watering as a flaming hot steak…Made of power metal…. Imageries aside the tune holds up really well and is one of the tops in the album in my opinion. [/M]
[J] Continuing on, the album continues the theme of the story of the Jomsvikings as told through the tracks: “The Way Of Vikings”, “At Dawns First Light”, “One Thousand Burning Arrows” and “Vengence is my Name”. These tracks, whilst being good, just seem to be missing something. I’m exactly sure what it is, but they just don’t have the impact of tracks like “Friends of the Suncross” and “Guardians of Asgard”. [/J]
[M] Next up is “Way of the Vikings” which while keeping a very heavy sound and constant vocals doesn’t give you the very sharp catchy riffs heard in previous Amon Amarth tracks. The song seems to nearly be missing a guitarist due to the fact the main riff in the song is not as “in your face” and doesn’t give the song the catchy aspect I would expect. It’s still a good tune but is missing a good catchy riff, the solo did bring the tune to a more memorable spot but not enough to reach “wanderer”.
The album follows with “At Dawn’s first light” which does have a catchier riff than the previous tune as well as a very intriguing narrated intro. However, once the verse truly starts, the lack of the sharp riff does seem to come back. The chorus is melodic and gives a good touch to the song. I do think this tune is more memorable than the last tune due to the fact the bridge and chorus have more hearable riffs but the song still does not reach the spark needed to be amongst the previously praised tunes like “Wanderer” and “Raise Your Horns”.
Next comes my top favourite of the album “One Thousand Burning Arrows” which while also missing the riff of the aspect has a different touch from the two previous track and I cannot describe why, but I absolutely adored this track. The song is not as heavy as the last two tunes and still doesn’t contain the catchy riff which brought my attention to my favourites but the melodic aspect works so perfectly with the vocals and the quieter riff, the song heavily full of power magic and especially during the solo sent me to a complete different planet, the song is a tune I could not get enough of replaying over and over again, I seemed to not get over it, not many songs give me this effect and I can honestly say I did not expect it would, and I still cannot explain why it does.
When I had finally recovered from the previous track, came “Vengeance is my name” the song brings back the sharp riffs I had wanted in the previous tunes and gives a very thrash-y feel bar the chorus and solo, while the vocals are the same as the previous tunes, the riff feels less groovy and and the song itself does not fully feel like an Amon Amarth tune, not to say it is a bad tune, just not the sort of style I thought Amon would take on. [/M]
[J] A track of particular note has to be the, ahem, interesting “A Dream that Cannot Be”. Aptly titled, as you’ll no doubt find. It features Johan almost singing a duet with none other than Doro Pesch. Now, this collaboration might have worked on a Doro track, however on this album it sadly doesn’t work. They’ve done what they did on the previous albums rather dismal track “Hel”. When I heard about that track, I was rather excited to see what Eddie would bring to it. Sadly, I was left feeling bitterly disappointed and it makes me sad to say it but I’m not impressed with this one as well. [/J]
[M]Now comes the track splitting many opinions, “ A Dream that Cannot Be”, I was myself excited to hear this track as I happen to be an eager fan of Doro who is featured in the track, the song however I must say feel very out of place, mostly from the differing vocals of the growls of johan and the trembling voice of Doro, feels like trying to jump in a pile of rocks and hitting feathers… in other words there is too much of a difference in the vocal styles, the musical style is very simple and is quite obviously focussed on the vocals… which unfortunately, while both greatly holding up to their own style do not fit together as a duo. [/M]
[J] Finishing off the album is the track “Back on Northern Shores”. As soon as I heard the first riff, I was reminded of the track “Embrace of the Endless Ocean”. Having an epic-moving riff along with the growls of Johan, this track is a masterpiece of emotion and is quite honestly the best track on the album. It’s like it’s combining the good elements form the older stuff and mixing them with the style of the album. This thankfully pays off and results in what I consider the only ‘Traditional’ Amon Amarth track on the album. [/J]
[M] The album wraps up with a very memorable track “Back on northern shores” which really amongs my tops in this album, the song is heavy and melodic during the verse and brings a lot of emotion during the chorus. A perfect Amon Amarth track that will be one I will listen to many more times again and really hope to one day hear live to bang my head.
Overall the album seems a little of a mix and match, some tunes bring a very new touch to the musical styles, some which works and some (well… one) which don’t, there are a few recycled formulas in certain tunes, however when a song with a slight touch of difference works, it REALLY works. I am pleased with a good half of this album and especially impressed with “One Thousand Burning Arrows”. (8/10)[/M]
[J] As you have no doubt noticed, I’ve been continuously comparing the album to their older material. This is simply because I’ve been a fan of their material for a long time and am quite honestly sad with what’s happened. Don’t get me wrong; this album is a good album. However, I just honestly feel as though it could have been so much more. And that makes me quite sad. [/J]
Combined Rating: 7.5/10
Standout tracks: Wanderer, Raise Your Horns, One Thousand Burning Arrows (Mel) & Back on Northern Shores
Jomsviking is available via Metal Blade Records in the USA and Sony Music Entertainment in the rest of the world.