Why are we so damn fascinated by Vikings? Their scandinavian hair cuts, combinations of metal, leather, and wood do depict a very specific aesthetic, don’t they dear readers?
Initially thought of as barbarians who dabbled in piracy, thuggery, and nomadic culture, we’ve slowly learned that they carried a unique culture and, though I cringe to write this, a viable counter-culture alternative to the Roman way of life that was spreading throughout the European climate of the time.
So what does that have to do with today’s Melodic Monday entry? Let’s take a look see.
Amon Amarth – Jomsviking
released March 25, 2016
Amon Amarth is a Swedish melodic death metal band, which has been around for the almost 25 years. Composed of vocalist Johan Hegg, with Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Soderberg on guitar, and Ted Lundstrom as the bassist.
Jomsviking is their 10th studio album, and if you haven’t guessed it yet, the lyrics and tone of the album deals mostly with the mythology surrounding vikings and the full album plays out a viking story, which is why Amon Amarth is sometimes called viking metal.
I’ve said this before, but I’m not a huge metal enthusiast, well, at least not consciously. But I can appreciate a good story, and which focus their effort to produce something with meaning and real thought behind it. Which is why it’s really cool that the band takes its name from one of the mountain which houses Sauron, in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. Yeah, Mount Doom.
Interestingly enough, Jomsviking is the first concept album that Amon Amarth have ever done.
It’ts a story about the Jomsvikings and their universe of violence and revenge. Essentially the story deals with a young man who has lost his love to an arranged marriage and the consequences of his decisions to take revenge and get her back.
Having never listened to any of their other work, but knowing a decent amount about metal, storytelling, and music in general, I can tell you very assuredly that this is an excellent listen. This band has a deep love for Nordic culture and they are arranging the elements to produce an epic that portrays the world that the Jomsvikings live in. It’s incredibly easy to follow, and once you get lost in the style of music, you begin to appreciate the subtle emotions that naturally attach to the genre.
It feels genuinely authentic. Which is so refreshing and well placed.
Opening rather courageously with the track First Kill, the record is well placed to get you chanting and rooting for it’s characters. I read one reviewer say that this kind of album can increase your deadlift strength, and he just might be right.
One of my personal favourites is Raise Your Horns, which perfectly encapsulates the myth of the viking – featuring warbling vocals by Hegg, chanting in the background, and the war drums of new drummer Tobias Gustafsson. It’s quickly followed by The Way of Vikingsm, which amps up the story one more notch.
Vengeance is my name has a classic sounding death metal ring to it, and of course A Dream That Cannot Be is just so sad, and I can’t really ruin it at this point, but the tragedy captured by featuring Doro Pesch on vocals alongside Hegg is quite apt and fits well.
If you are looking for a way to ease yourself into death metal, or you are sick of substitutes, you should give Jomsviking a listen, you won’t be disappointed. I personally was so happy I bought this album, especially after a couple of listens.
Amon Amarth are in a unique position. After almost 25 years of producing the same style of music, they have become the face of viking metal, a proud and noble group which has not modified their sound to keep up with trends and tastes, if anything this concept album proves they are going to dig their heels in deeper if necessary.
What’s interesting to me though, is that they get most of their success from touring, as is often the case with most long-standing rock groups. People are willing to spend a little bit more money to support a band which stands for an ideal or a belief system, and that’s why Amon Amarth are so interesting. They celebrate a culture and an obsession of it in their music, while simultaneously providing a legacy for it.