The real question surrounding this Swedish death metal outfit’s brutal and beautiful tenth opus is how, after two decades together, they hadn’t released a concept album. Following the tale of a medieval Viking on a quest to win back his true love after killing the man she’s been promised to marry, Jomsviking is an exquisitely melodic album, almost poppy in its cleanliness and narrative concision as it alternates between moments of marauding grandeur (“The Way of the Vikings”) and sparkling, Baroque braids of guitar (“Wanderer”). Even as misery befalls the hero-turned-mercenary (“A Dream that Cannot Be,” featuring former Warlock singer and metal pioneer Doro), the music remains triumphant—the primal yet bittersweet howl of a lone wolf turning his face once again to the hills.

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