The mighty Amon Amarth have developed a recognizable sound over their long career, and the Swedish melodic death band don’t stray far from that sound. Even so, their musicianship and songwriting ensures that each album is fresh and distinctive, and that’s the case with their latest studio effort Jomsviking.

It’s a concept album, and frontman Johan Hegg describes Jomsviking’s lyrical plot. "It's a pretty simple story where a young man is in love with a girl but unfortunately she's being married off,” Hegg explains. “He accidentally kills a man when this happens and he has to flee. But he swears to have revenge and win her back. He can't let go of the past. He feels that he's been wronged and his life has been destroyed.”

Hegg continues, “The story of the Jomsviking is the background -- it's the way he finds to go back and claim his revenge. The way the story evolves is not a happy story… it's a tragedy, I guess! But I like sad endings, because they're the ones that affect you the most."

The album is packed with rousing anthems. “First Kill” sets the stage for the album with a spoken word intro that leads into a catchy chorus. The twin guitars of Johan Soderberg and Olavi Mikkonen are put to full use on Jomsviking, delivering excellent leads along with killer solos on the track “The Way of Vikings.”

“Raise Your Horns” seems destined to become a live favorite with memorable riffs and the call to "drink to glory tonight." The uptempo “On a Sea of Blood” alternates nicely between ominous heaviness and dextrous guitar fills.

This is the first Amon Amarth album in nearly 20 years not to feature drummer Fredrik Andersson. His very large shoes were filled for this album by Tobias Gustafsson (Vomitory), whose steady style keeps the ship right on course.

For the second album in a row, Amon Amarth worked with legendary producer Andy Sneap. He’s one of the best in the business, and the sonic quality of Jomsviking is top-notch. It is also pretty polished, which takes the edge off some of the band’s rawness.

There is some melodic singing on the album, but not by Hegg. The legendary Doro Pesch lends her considerable talent to “A Dream That Cannot Be,” and her clear alto provides an interesting contrast to Hegg’s growls. The album comes to an end with the epic “Back on Northern Shores,” whose intensity only ebbs at the conclusion.

Amon Amarth have delivered consistently solid albums for a long time, and that continues with Jomsviking. They do not disappoint, with their tenth studio album providing plenty of highlights and never wavering in quality.

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