Since 1992, Amon Amarth have been steadily building a signature style out of melodic death metal and Norse mythology. Recently, they've began incorporating some of the more anthemic and memorable elements of traditional metal, a characteristic that has evolved even further on their tenth album overall, Jomsviking. It's also the band's first fully-fledged concept album.
Written by frontman Johan Hegg, the story is a Viking revenge tale with underpinnings of love and romanticized violence. Although it still has all the galloping riffs and driving rhythm we've come to expect from Amon Amarth, the vibe is more heroic and the production is slick, thanks once again to producer extraordinaire Andy Sneap. Throughout, the guitars have a delicious soaring tone reminiscent of Wages Of Sin-era Michael Amott. Newly hired drummer Tobias Gustafsson's playing gives the album a thrashy groove, his performance sounding absolutely massive here.
In fact, everything sounds pretty damn impressive on this album. The most questionable moments are those that almost teeter into cheesy folk metal territory, with epic choruses ("Raise Your Horns") and call-and-answer parts ("One Against All") that are practically manufactured for concert venue sing-alongs.
But while longtime fans might be a bit thrown off by some of the more melodic traditional metal elements throughout Jomsviking, the music is well suited to both the concept's narrative and a natural evolution of Amon Amarth's more well known style. It's still a heavy, sweaty, battle-filled outing, but with the higher production values, there's a little less blood this time around. (Metal Blade)