UG Articles Archive

Monday, April 25, 2011

In Pursuit of Vikings in the Land of Vikings (one week late, drop a letter grade)

I never thought I would pay money to see vikings in Minnesota. Last (last) weekend's Amon Amarth show was the best Death Metal show I've ever seen, and only a crappy venue prevented it from making my top 5 concerts of all time. Allowing beer on the floor was definitely a redeeming quality. Anyhoo, I will try to not talk too much about the venue in this concert review and focus on Amon Amarth's (from here on out abbreviated as "AA") stage performance.

The concert:
As promised, the entirety of Surtur Rising--their latest album--was played for the first half of the show. No offense to the songs on that album, but the energy level of the crowd was average at best because we knew which song was coming next, where as when you don't know what the next song will be, if it's a song you like, you're more inclined to go crazy. I think the crowd was still warming at this part of the show, or maybe the songs were not favorites with the crowd yet. War of the Gods--my personal favorite from the album--was a powerful opener to both the album and the concert, and was the highlight of the first half.

After the intermission is when things took a turn for the awesome. Opening with Twilight of the Thunder God, one could tell that the crowd was given a jolt of electricity. From there on out, AA played all of the fan favorites, including two of my personal favorites Cry of the Blackbirds and Live for the Kill. The closing song was In Pursuit of Vikings, with a phenomenal sing-along from the crowd which was the perfect capper for the concert.

I must confess, I only paid attention to one member of the band during the show, so I cannot accurately grade the stage performance of the rest of the band, but lead singer Johan Hegg is a master of showmanship. From his ability to control the crowd to his unfaltering growls, he was able to amplify the enjoyment of the show. When I go to a concert, I look for the frontman/lead singer to make banter with the crowd between songs to establish a connection with them, and I also expect the lead singer to allow the crowd to participate in the song--either by singing, clapping or something along those lines. Hegg was easily able to do these and establish a link with the crowd, which made for a stunning performance combined with their already rockin' songs.

Lastly, I would like to talk about the set list. I will admit that the second half "classics" were more enjoyable than the first half with the new album, but I respect the shit out of AA for doing this and not solidifying themselves in a few good tracks. Like any good band, they continue to make albums and present them to their fans, hoping songs like War of the Gods or Slaves of Fear will be added to their arsenal of awesome songs.

This reminded me of when I went to see Iron Maiden play primarily songs from the 2000s. I read numerous mixed reviews saying it was a crime to leave out many of their classics in favor of new songs not everyone likes. I always imagined these reviewers to be middle-aged men who are to stubborn or stupid to allow themselves to enjoy Maiden's new material. Maiden is too damn talented to lock themselves in as a "Greatest Hits" band, and I truly pity anyone thick-headed dumbass who is too ignorant to enjoy songs like "Dance of Death," "Paschendale," "Brave New World" or "El Dorado." Like Maiden, AA knows what songs the fans like, and they performed most of them. I guarantee a few of the song off Surtur Rising will become fan favorites in the not-too-distant future, and these songs will surely be included among other hits on the next album tour. If I would change one thing, I would have AA only play maybe half or 3/4 of the songs off their new album and mix it in with the old classics--much like Metallica did on the Death Magnetic tour.

tl;dr quick stats:

Overall concert rating - 8
Band performance rating - 10

Best part of the show: fantastic set list, better than I could have hoped for.
Worst part of the show: Crummy structure for a venue, fucking pillars in the middle of the floor!

Top 3 favorite songs:
1. Pursuit of Vikings (phenomenal energy from band and crowd)
2. Cry of the Blackbirds
3. Live for the Kill
Honorable mention - medley of 4-5 songs

Top 3 most missed songs:
1. Fate of Norns
2. Embrace of the Endless Ocean
3. Death in Fire (full version, it was lumped in a medley half way through the show)

I'm still trying to digest Surtur Rising, but look for an album review in the near future!


1 comment:

  1. That concert was freaking awesome. When I could see over the tall dudes in front of me I saw a lot of synchronized windmill headbanging. which I approve of. I'd have to say my favorite from the first half and off Surtur Rising is Destroyer of the Universe... awesome. I would have liked to hear them play Aerials too but that's just wishful thinking I'm sure they just did that song for shits