Amon Amarth - Jomsviking“The first man I killed was the earl’s right-hand man / When he came to take her away / I ran his own sword straight through his throat / And then I stood there, watching him fall!” Amon Amarth‘s Jomsviking wastes no time reminding you to whom you are listening. Of the Swedish metal scene of the 1990s—a scene so legendary and influential that it became almost cliché after incessant imitation—Amon Amarth is one of the very few who has continued strong. While not every record has been a Lindesfarne,  their discography is like a series of profitable raids that have raised their profile so high that Jomsviking isn’t being released on Metal Blade in Europe. Amon Amarth is officially a major label band now, having signed to Sony in the three years since Deceiver of the Gods was released.

There is something fitting about the story of Jomsviking being about a band of Viking mercenaries. The Jomsvikings were legendarily mercantile, stolidly pagan warriors who were willing to fight alongside the highest bidders—be they pagans or not. This mercenary theme becomes clear on songs like “The Way of Vikings,” where two jomsvikings—close friends—fight each other on the battlefield and one of them has to die; “it’s the way of the jomsvikings!” bellows Hegg with his trademark growl. An astute listener might wonder whether or not this is an analogy for the band’s own journey. During the promotional period for Deceiver of the Gods, Hegg said that the previous album had been too clean.1 They had moved on from Jens Bogren to work with Andy Sneap—a union maintained on Jomsviking, as well. But rather than differentiating itself from earlier records through its aggression, Jonsviking differentiates itself by being extremely slick.

Rather than being “just another Amon Amarth” album, Jomsviking delivers some of the band’s most catchy material to date. “Raise Your Horns” features a literal sing-along chorus—Johan’s growls in perfect timing with a lead guitar melody—while “A Dream That Cannot Be” features Doro singing a chorus that fans all over world will bellow. “On a Sea of Blood” rips out a thrashy riff and classic Amon Amarth chug, but also features a chorus built to stick, while “One against All” features an awesome bridge and the kind of riffing that simply requires guitarists Mikkonen and Söderberg to break out synchronized guitar swings at live shows.

Amon Amarth 2016

At first I didn’t like Jomsviking. Hegg’s vocals are really high in the mix and Andy Sneap’s production job—while similar in tone to DotG and mastered slightly less loudly (DR 6/7 as opposed to 5/6)—is trademark Sneap; clear, balanced, professional, and loud. The guitars have great crunch, and Sneap manages to make Lundström’s bass sound really good despite the kind of master which tends to push bass into the background. Particularly impressive is how good the drums sound—the toms especially have a surprisingly live bounce to them—and ex-Vomitory drummer Tobias Gustafsson nails an elite performance. But clinical performances and catchy songs are a weird thing to be celebrating when talking about one of Sweden’s premiere death metal bands! Amon Amarth are supposed to be brutal and aggressive; built for the pit, not for the Top of the Pops.

But the key to an Amon Amarth record is whether or not the songs are there, and for me Jomsvikings has the songs. All of the aforementioned tracks—especially “First Kill” and “The Way of Vikings”—are great. “Raise Your Horns” might be a bit too catchy for your average fan, but simply grew on me. “Vengeance Is My Name” might start with a cheesy spoken word part, but you’ll have trouble denying the song’s groove. “Wanderer” might start off like a lost Iron Maiden intro, but it merges into a mid-paced groove that will likely work well live. The album rounds out with “Back on Northern Shores” which will make an absolutely devastating closer live and isn’t half bad on disc, either, knocking out mid-paced riffs that make the listener nod almost compulsively. The downside to the album is that the album feels more mid-paced and less aggressive than the band’s discography. There are times when the sheen and polish make Amon Amarth sound like a German power metal band with a growler than Sweden’s premiere melodic death metal band.

When all is said and done, though, Jomsviking really grew on me. The record is super slick, and I suspect that will rub some fans the wrong way, but Amon Amarth is one of metal’s best bands for a reason; they’ve always composed great songs, they’ve always had a feel for what will work live, and they always deliver. Be they mercenary or not, Amon Amarth is one of the best in the business and they’ve got an album with eleven new songs to prove that to you. It’s the way of the Jomsvikings!


Rating: Very Good!
DR: 6 | Media Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Sony BMG / Metal Blade
Websites: amonamarth.com | facebook.com/OfficialAmonAmarth
Out Worldwide: March 25th, 2016

Show 1 footnote

  1. Actually, if anyone can find this interview that would be awesome. I read it at the time and it’s stuck in my head over the years, but I cannot for the life of me find the damn thing! I’m pretty sure he said that it was a bit too “clean” and that Deceiver of the Gods was meant to be a heavier and more aggressive record.

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  • I’ve come to the realization that these guys are the Aerosmith/ACDC of the viking/folk/death metal world. Want to hear the new Amon Amarth? Listen to the last one on shuffle.

    Thats OK though, because I love these guys and I am definitely a fan boy and will keep buying every new release! I love this record, but its nothing groundbreaking.

    • tomasjacobi

      The rest of us realised this a loooooong time ago ;-)

    • Kryopsis

      The last person to criticize Amon Amarth on the Internet was invaded by a viking who tore out the guy’s throat and ate his hot pocket. Be careful, Mike (or at least don’t keep any food within the reach of vikings).

    • Westpaceagle

      Who is the aerosmith/ACDC of Ghostcore? Sorry I am just being a smartass and I love saying Ghostcore as if it’s a thing. Pay no mind (unless you can actually answer!)

      • Pimpolho

        Ghost is the AC/DC of Ghostcore.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Didn’t Aerosmith go soft/commecial while AC/DC has simply never changed?

      • tomasjacobi

        Yeah I would say the releasing-the-same-album-again-and-again comparison works better with AC/DC.

    • I unfortunately have to agree with this assessment.

      This is a fine record no doubt. But I think AA should by held to the same review standards as say retro thrash, i.e. been there, done that.

      It’s very hard for me to get that excited about an AA record these days.

  • This is essentially Grave Digger with slightly rougher vocals and more swords.

    • And thank Oden for that. Hate Grave Digger’s singer.

      • Diggist!

      • But at least the title is cool: Jorn’s a Viking!

      • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

        Heyheyhey, let’s not make hasty statements we’ll regret later.

  • I’ve never been into Amon Amarth, but perhaps I just didn’t play it loud enough. First Kill sure sounds kick ass. With the bass and drums during the first minute and right around the three minute mark, I swear I can see my loudspeakers smile.
    Wish I was reviewing this myself.

    • Tom Hardy

      The song that got me into the band was a song that opened with an exquisite riff called Amon Amarth. I often picture the slow opening of a gate 80 foot high, exposing a glorious green valley amidst mountains and a castle in the distance protected by a group of beautiful women of the amazon. Time flows slow in this land as is the case with my age as I cross the gates. Aye.

      • Hulksteraus

        Nice visualisation! You need to do a Fantasy movie next (or maybe a season of Vikings… :) )

  • Tom Hardy

    Nice review. How does it compare to their other albums, where would you place this? Until now, Once Sent from the Golden Hall was the only record I thought worthy of owning by these lads.

    • Mid-pack. Quite slick, but I’d say that I like With Oden on Our Side, Once Sent, Deceiver of the Gods and Fate of Norns better.

      • Pimpolho

        You like this one even more than The Crusher? Or Versus The World? Or Sur… Oh wait, i forgot their whole discography is awesome.

        • Hmmm. Better than The Crusher, not necessarily Versus the world. Definitely than Surtur Rising. :p

          • IamRipper

            I find that Surtur gets better with age, maybe give it another spin? Anyways, the new one arrives today, I’m excited.

      • Tom Hardy

        Gotcha. This is quite a momentous occasion for the band being their 10th album and as a young, tall, angry super-fan, would you be so kind as to stack em up in order for us folks?

        • I do like these guys, but a super fan I wouldn’t say I am. Their style just works with me. And they are one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen.

          • Ernesto Aimar

            Horns held High to that!

            “Twilight of…” also sounds greater IMO.

  • El Lado Oscuro

    Great record. Better than Deceiver Of The Gods and a little under Sutur Rising. Good review

    • RuySan

      I thought Surtur was the weakest of their career while Deceiver was a great comeback.

      That’s the range of opinions we get when all the albums sound alike

      • El Lado Oscuro

        Respect anyway, as it should be

      • Kryopsis

        When Surtur Rising came out, I was worried that the band ran out of ideas and it was the beginning of a decline. Fortunately that was not the case.

        • War Of The Gods

          And when jomsviking came out your thought was that is better of surtur,ran out of ideas is jomsviking and that’s why most fans are dissapointed.

    • War Of The Gods

      You must be kidding right?? Sutur has War of the Gods,Slave of fear,Destroyer of the universe,The Last Stand of Frej,For Victory or Death,Doom Over Dead Man, Wrath of the Norsemen,the whole album was atomic bomb expect 2 filler songs.

      Jomsviking has just 2-3 decent songs and the rest is a boring,uninspired mediocre garbage.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    With a band like this, and cover art like that, you and SD must have been like two friends fighting to the death on the battlefield for the right to review this.

    • AMG is the big boss so he just takes it and laughs while demanding more TPS reports.

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    Two AMG reviews in a row? That’s less common than a timely RotM!

    • Tom Hardy

      The angry fella’s had a hard on for this band for a decade or more, so totally natural for us to see it coming from him. And that’s some dedication to invest the time in two anticipated releases, so props to him.

      • AlphaBetaFoxface

        Hardon Amarth – Dongsviking

        The idea of a ten-year erection sparked my immature creativity.

        • Kronos

          Seek medical attention.

  • William Hebblewhite

    Really digging this album. but moreso its making me revisit the absolute awesomeness of AAs discography.

  • Kryopsis

    I can’t wait for the live show next month. I pretty much liked every Amon Amarth album except for Surtur Rising.

  • Bart the Repairman

    Ah, Sneap. Always the same sound and always satisfying as hell.

  • Vicente Urrutia

    Liked the album… but I miss the harsh riffs and production from their first albums… it made them sound a lot more viking!

  • Westpaceagle

    That is a kickass song with a pretty awful video. Not that videos have mattered in 20+ years, but the first pump timed with the pyro is something you would see in a Dokken video. Oh yes, I went there. Love AA though

    • METAL OTTER

      Hilarious, have an upvote as a Dokken of appreciation.

    • CarvedInStone

      I don’t know if I would call it aweful. Certainly nothing outstanding but pretty okay for a metal video these days. At the very least it didn’t look as cheap as the crap you usually get from smaller labels.

    • Dokken appreciation = Steely upvote!

    • Westpaceagle

      For all you young guys, go Youtube the ‘Into the Fire’ video. It will speak for itself.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Funny you would mention that “the sheen and polish make Amon Amarth sound like a German power metal band with a growler” because as I was reading the review I kept thinking of how much Amon Amarth are like Blind Guardian regarding that when you’re listening to either of them you don’t know whether to headbang till your head falls off or sing/shout/scream along till your throat is sore.

    • RuySan

      That my friend, is a fundamental truth

  • Sounds like a great time. Will be picking this up as soon as I can.

  • Wilhelm

    The band was good early on but every new release just a watered down rehash. The banal compositions combined with the super clean production, corny lyrics, and unneeded compression are disappointing, I’m just sitting shaking my head waiting to hear an actual death metal riff.

    • Here’s Johnny

      You sound a fun guy.

      • Wilhelm

        Fun and discerning!

  • Noobhammer

    Since it seems we are getting more reviews by the Angry Overlord, would it be fair to assume that we will soon see a review of the new Blaze Bayley album?

    (I’m actually quite serious, because I’m loving it, and the only reason it caught my attention was because his IM retro last year got me turned on to X Factor)

    • tomasjacobi

      I like the new Blaze Bayley as well. Definitely his best since Tenth Dimension.
      If I had a time machine and a gun though, I would travel back a few months to when they were mixing the album and make them mix his vocals a little lower at gunpoint.

  • hardysponge

    Solid release and will surely be a commercial success. They appeal to folks that like more catchy Iron Maiden style metal but want a bit of Viking/Game of Thrones-ish/singalong tunes. I got into more Death Metal by Amon Amart as a stepping stone and I thank them for that.

  • hardysponge

    And the chorus of At Dawn’s First Light is pure Run to the Hills worship!

    • De2013

      Yes yes ! It sure is. Just noticed that this afternoon.
      Indeed, AMG was spot on regarding the Maiden influences.

  • madhare

    First I read JORNSVIKING… **shudders at the image of a Viking ship full of marauding Jørns**

  • JimminySnakeTits

    When I listen to an AA song in isolation, I generally like it. But put on an entire album, and there is never enough diversity to hold my interest for more than a few songs. The song in the video sounds like it would fit on just about any one of their albums (not that it should be a surprise since that’s pretty much been their MO since the beginning). I think of them as the AC/DC of the metal world.

    • IBlackened

      This!

  • Hammersmith

    It seems to me that while this is a quality release, they might not ever top With Odin or Once Sent. Enjoying this one though, more than Deceiver and Surtur Rising for sure.

    • Jiovani

      No way,Deceiver and Surtur have brilliant songs inside,that album boring me to hell, expect 3 songs.

  • Tofu muncher

    This completes this year’s Good Friday.

  • Blueberry Balls

    couldn’t resist…

  • Berit Dogg

    Oh my goodness, that’s a big hammer!

  • HammerofThor

    I’ve tried to get into this band more than once but the cheese is so damn thick you’d need a machete to get through it.

    • thiR

      Try with a cheese slicer… Scandis love their cheese slicers!

  • Nick Maestas

    This album is really good but then again anything from Amon Amarth is good, even my least favorite album from them is still better than most. Jomsviking is up their with Surtur Rising in my opinion. Versus the World is still my number one favorite AA release though, that one is just kick ass.

  • antitayyip

    this is first time i heard Johan is doing vocals at Accept…