Ahh Sweden. You wonderful country. I think we're all in agreement that there isn't much that's come out of Sweden that isn't worthy of shouting about and the mighty Amon Amarth are high up on that list. The Viking melodic death metallers are powering on towards their 25th year in 2017 and in preparation for what is fair to assume will be a sizeable party they have released album number 10: Jomsviking. 25 years of pretty relentless writing, recording and touring must have caught up with them by now though surely?
Like hell it has. Jomsviking bursts out of the blocks with the appropriately named First Kill and from there there is nothing that I wouldn't expect from an Amon Amarth album. This is melodic death metal at it's absolute finest. On A Sea Of Blood provides the highlight of the album for me. It feels like it has more depth than some of the other tracks and upon closing my eyes it takes me to Download, seeing them parading in front of their boat to thousands of bearded fans. The storytelling that Amon Amarth have always put to the fore of their songs is strongly evident and that is backed up by riffs, bass and drums that feel huge. I feel like I'm being pulled into the tale and that is something that should not be taken lightly in a modern music scene that is championing miming and the manufacturing of bands.
Raise Your Horns is probably the most metal song you'll ever hear. Not only is the name itself is inherently metal the song sees big riffs adorn the start and a catchy chorus that glorifies drinking in a way only the Vikings could. If this doesn't get the metal masses waving their horns, I don't know what will. The Way Of Vikings and At Dawn's First Light follow similar patterns with the latter painting vivid images of bloody war. It's a prevailing theme through the album and it is a credit to the quality of they have released that they aren't considered a gimmicky band.
Amon Amarth will always be more of a live act for me, they seem to make more sense on a stage playing the music in front of me. Having taken them in a couple of times, once at a festival and once at a headline show, I am more than confident that any of the tracks from Jomsviking could seamlessly slip into their set. It's a good effort from the Swedes and provides a much needed dose of heaviness.