April 29, 2016


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Don’t pelt me with tomatoes (or axes) just yet, fine citizens.  Hear me out.  I have been a fan of  Amon Amarth for some time now.  The Avenger and With Oden On Our Side are my personal favorites, but I have about half of their discography proudly sitting on my shelf in CD form.  I even enjoyed the last outing from this Swedish melodeath outfit, Deceiver of the Gods, when others cried foul.  I enjoy this band and still look forward to future music from them.  That aside, Jomsviking is just, well…not particularly good.

Like I said, I really liked DotG.  I have heard a number of reviewers and commenters state how Jomsviking is a “return to form” after that “subpar” album.  I gotta tell you, I just don’t get the logic.  Sure, Deceiver was far from their best work, but I ask you where are the crushing, memorable singles on Jomsviking?  Where is our "As Loke Falls?"  That song alone has better instrumentation and higher energy than all of the new tracks combined.  The title track?  "We Shall Destroy?"  "Coming of the Tide?"  I argue that despite marathon listens over several days, I can barely recall a single riff off of the latest album, and for a band like AA, that’s just a crime.

Amon Amarth are known especially for having powerful opening and closing tracks to all of their LP’s.  While "First Kill" and "Back on Northern Shores "were among the tracks I actually enjoyed on some level, can they even hold a candle to "Twilight of the Thunder God," "Death in Fire," or "Valhall Awaits Me?"  I am normally quite open to opinions, but on this point I put my foot down and say that anyone who argues this point to the affirmative is a liar and fool.

So what makes Jomsviking so forgettable?  I’m not even completely sure.  The main culprit seems to be that compositions are even more simplified, processed, and recycled than usual.  I’d add onto that a lacking passion in the performances, which has always been crucial to crafting strong Viking metal on the anvil.  As for why this happened, part of me wonders if the whole “concept album” thing threw a wrench in the works.  I find that many bands have a difficult time keeping quality up while telling a cohesive story.  They can be quite successful when done right, but the thing is that great writers Amon Amarth are not.  They are performers.  They are barbarians.  I like their historical and mythological leanings; but they wrote themselves into a box here and couldn’t navigate their way back out.

So for the first time since The Crusher, I simply cannot recommend this album.  I always encourage readers to form their own opinion, but if you have limited time and it’s a choice between this and one of the other AMAZING releases this April (Cult of Luna/Julie Christmas, Ihsahn, UADA, Schammasch, etc.), then don’t waste the effort.  Jomsviking is not a terrible album in the least.  None of the songs make me cringe, but they do make me bored.  And evoking no reaction in some ways is worse than evoking a negative one.  At least I’ll remember vomiting in the latter case.

- Review by FlightOfIcarus

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