There are a lot of things that just naturally go together, like spaghetti and meatballs, chocolate and peanut butter, or virgins and sacrifice. However the two baddest ass things that ever were, are vikings and metal. There are few things more metal than raiding a monastery for loot and swinging an axe into a priest’s face. Death metal band Amon Amarth has brutally blended metal and viking lore for the last 20 years. Their tenth album Jomsviking, came out recently and it holds up to its pedigree. Amarths lineup consists of Olavi Mikkonen, Johan Hegg, Ted Lundström, Johan Söderberg and Tobias Gustafsson who replaced long time drummer Fredrik Andersson. The latest album is pretty standard and it doesn’t really take any risks. What we get is a great album for a road trip or raiding your local Baptist church. I wonder what the actual viking would have thought of this kind of music.
Jomsviking is an album that has been in my car CD player for about a week now. I have had a lot of time to digest it and I think the album is a pretty standard Amon Amarth effort. They are very reliable in the ass kicking department and Jomsviking is no different. It is also a concept album! I love concept albums! Jomsviking is about a dude who can’t marry the woman he loves and gets cast out of society cause he murders another dude. Seriously though, I thought killing dudes was a way to move up the viking society’s ladder, not be ostracized because of it. Anyway, Jomsviking takes us on a journey of revenge and battle. I wouldn’t say its a ground breaking album that will go down in metal history as a classic, but it is really good and you should check it out. I would really like to see these guys live however, especially if they play on a viking ship replica.
When it comes to folk or viking metal, there is a fine line between something epic and badass, and some weird and uncomfortable hybrid. Amon Amarth does not try to fuck with that line. They are self described as death metal and they just happen to have viking themes and lore in their songs. There are some bands out there that I feel do a much better job at the viking metal blend. Take Heidevolk, for example, which sounds like something you might hear in a Old Norse drinking hall if the vikings had access to electric guitars and double bass pedals.
I do not have any real criticism for Jomsviking, except for the song The dream that Cannot Be, because not only is the music pretty formulaic but it features an out of place female vocalist. Wait… what’s that you say? It’s German metal vocalist and former front woman for Warlock, Doro Pesch? Ok, I might have offended the metal gods by saying anything bad about Doro, but in my defense, Doro kind of sounded like she mailed it in a bit and when I first heard the song and I did not recognize her. Listen to Warlock’s first album Burning the Witches, and you will see that she has a level of intensity that just does not come through in the Jomsviking album. I can’t blame her though, Warlock was about 30 years ago. Doro came from an era where the heavy metal scene was dominated by men, and for her to come out and blast real heavy metal on stage in the era of Judas Priest and Dio deserves our respect and admiration. It sucks that The Dream that cannot be is my least favorite song on the album. Please forgive me Metal Gods!
Anyway, go ahead and check out Jomsviking! Here is a music video!
Born and raised in San Diego California, I grew up loving the action horror and sci-fi genres. The first R rated film I saw was Predator back when I was 8 years old. Aliens blew me away as a youngster and I made a M41-A pulse rifle out of paper towel rolls and rubber bands. I ran around for hours avoiding face huggers and blasting xenomorphs in my back yard and I am bringing that big imagination to Nevermore Horror.