» Blog Archive Amon Amarth Show New York The Way Of Vikings -
Evan Conway Hard Music, News, Reviews, Tours

DSC01811    Amon Amarth don’t have much left to prove to the world at this point in their career. Within the nearly three years since Deceiver of the Gods was released, the band have grown exponentially beyond an overseas sensation, into a juggernaut worldwide. Taking that opening slot on the Mayhem Festival main stage proved to go a long way, as the band embarked on two headlining North American tours the following year, each time growing larger than before.

My last time seeing the band was a special show in general: Decibel Magazine hosted the event, in which two shows were occurring in the New York area. One was taking place at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn, which featured Skeletonwitch  (Who was on the Amon Amarth tour every other stop of the way) while Amon Amarth and Sabaton took to the Best Buy Theater, with death/doom/all-around-extreme metal act Vallenfyre opening the show for a one-off gig. The show seemed titanic even looking back at it now, and it seemed to be impossible for the band to top.

DSC01816A year and a half later and things have changed: Amon Amarth have a new drummer in Jocke Wallgren, Jomsviking was released as their first concept album, (Of which I enjoyed) and they were bringing an entirely new stage set up on the tour, too. With the legendary Entombed A.D. and the shred-heavy Exmortus in tow, the tour was a tempting offer from the get-go.

Upon entering the newly-dubbed Playstation Theater, one such thing was different: Vikings were present. Two men dressed in Nordic grab were stationed at the bottom of the stairs descending into the lobby, greeting all who entered and allowing fans to take pictures with them. When I sarcastically asked them to throw up some nonsensical “gang sign,” (A certain hand sign from Star Trek) they actually stayed in character and expressed a struggle to form the gesture, saying things along the lines of “It is beyond our time, we seem to be unable to do it.” Bonus points right away for commitment and a good dose of humor, too. (And for being good sports)

DSC01641 (2)Exmortus were first to take the stage to an already crowded theater. Quickly introducing themselves, vocalist and guitarist Jadran Gonzalez lead the band into a thrashy opening track, dubbed “Rising.” I made a conscious effort to try and count the number of guitar solos throughout their set. By a third of the way, through, so many had occurred between Gonzalez and his fellow guitarist David Rivera, that such an attempt quickly became a mistake. Exmortus evidently love guitar solos, and well constructed ones at that.

ADSC01640 (2)s their set winded down and it began to settle in that Exmortus weren’t going to slow down at any rate, Gonzalez asks the crowd if they like classical music. This served as an introduction to the band’s rendition of “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven, which seems typical of a metal band to do when they are as technical as Exmortus. However, Exmortus remains the only band I’ve heard of to not slow down for this piece of music and continued onward with their breakneck, tempo-pushing aesthetic. The best part, however, is that they played it in a very clean manner, too, which is what truly sets them apart from the other bands that have attempted it. Exmortus’ members clearly practice intensely and it shows in each of their songs. I wish this band all the best, because they deserve to be on tours like this all the time.

On a side note, it’s worth mentioning that the band’s instrument tones were super-versatile. Guitar tones were sharp and suitable for both lead and rhythm parts, the drums produced massive shockwaves with each and every hit, and the bass sat nicely in the middle of it all, but not without a deep and naturally distorted tone to make it say “Yes, I’m here and I sound great.”

DSC01732 (2)Everything about Exmortus’ sound and style was very well contrasted when Entombed A.D. took the stage. The band started out with “Dead Dawn” off the album of the same name, hitting the crwod with their signature “buzzsaw” guitar tone, biting like a rabid dog. The first noticeable thing about Entombed is that they perform in the same way their albums are played: raw, unapologetic, and seeping with the grime of death metal’s underbelly. Granted the band has aged, as vocalist L.G. Petrov resembles your favorite death metal uncle, but like fine wine they are still going strong.

A nice touch Entombed made to their set was that it was not reliant on nostalgia for them to connect to fans and win over new ones. Taking material from their two album under the “A.D.” monicker, as well as some favorites from their first three albums, the band balanced everything nicely, all the while showing how confident they are in their current output of music. Granted fanboys and traditionalists may have wanted tracks like  “Evilyn” or “Supposed to Rot,” but classics like “Wolverine Blues” and “Stranger Aeons” brought a smile to the face of every fan in the room, and the furious assaults that are “The Winner Has Lost” and “Second to None” from their recent works had the same effect overall.

DSC01718 (2)But most notably for the band is how much fun their set was. Petrov wasted no time in getting the crowd involved and making use of the entirety of the stage. If he wasn’t the center of attention, bassist Victor Brandt was drawing gazes, both physically embodying the death metal aesthetic and striking vicious poses while snarling through his thick, dark hair. As the set began to wind down, (Complete with Petrov showing the crowd his rear end rather drunkenly) Entombed decided to close things with their anthemic “Left Hand Path,” not leaving without providing another one of their signature songs for the crowd to get winded up to.

Closing the curtain as Entombed left the stage only managed to build the hype up for Amon Amarth, who had a lengthy set in store for that night. As the curtains opened, the band unveiled their new stage set up, complete with a massive drum throne shaped like a viking helmet with steps all around it for the band members to move around on. With a familiar chugging pattern, Amon Amarth took to the stage and the crowd erupted in excitement as “The Pursuit of Vikings” got the set underway, with vocalist Johan Hegg addressing the crowd during the song’s bridge before firing all engines into “As Loke Falls.”

DSC01778As the material from Jomsviking began to make its way into the set, one thing became apparent and it was that with it being a concept album, Amon Amarth had become a more theatrical approach to the show, and appropriately so to fit the album’s narrative. The vikings that had greeted everyone at the door were now on steps around the drum kit, almost simultaneously making motions. Whether it be aiming arrows on “One Thousand Burning Arrows” or simultaneously stomping their spears in rhythm with the drums, their presence was threatening, starkly contrasting the welcoming nature they provided upon entering. Theatricality was not limited to the Jomsviking songs, or the two guest vikings, either. When the band took to the stage after a quick breather for “Father of the Wolf,” Hegg appeared in the Loki mask present during the promotional work for Deceiver of the Gods. It made a noticeable change to his vocal output, albeit more reverberated and monstrous, but made for an interesting and unexpected aesthetic, despite it becoming more difficult to understand his lyrics.

DSC01808As the set winded down, the entire band showed no signs of stopping. Guitarist Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg were near perfect the entire night, with myself only catching one, subtly sharp note throughout the entire show. Most impressively was their current live drummer, Jocke Wallgren, of October Tide. One would have sworn Wallgren had been in the band for years prior, as he didn’t even seem to break a sweat or show any struggle in keeping up with the rest of the band. If anything, I’d imagine the band struggling to keep up with him. Johan Hegg took a moment to introduce him as their “new drummer,” which lines up with what he had been saying the week prior, expressing his hopes that he would stay in the band. Not only is he more than qualified for the part, but he has the viking-look down, as well. It’s hard to imagine anyone who sees him perform with the band not wanting him behind the kit for the future.

DSC01784With their encore underway, Amon Amarth welcomed L.G. Petrov back to the stage for arguably the highlight of the entire show, in which they took full advantage of him performing “Guardians of Asgaard.” Petrov was no doubt more intoxicated than he was prior, but that didn’t stop him from having fun the entire time with the rest of the band, as well as being completely and utterly on point. From the time this tour had been announced, this was something that needed to happen, and it no doubt delivered.

Closing out their set with “Twilight of the Thunder God,” Amon Amarth no doubt reached a new standard for themselves, and their continuously growing popularity is rightfully earned. Ten albums in, and Amon Amarth have finally become rockstars worldwide, delivering a show that didn’t stop dealing punches from the moment fans entered the door. If one thing is certain, it’s that we’re going to have Amon Amarth around until they can’t go anymore. Judging by the way things are going, I’m content with having them around for years to come.

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