Live Review: Amon Amarth - Birmingham
Review by Tim Finch
Amon Amarth are now one of Sweden’s biggest music exports, certainly the biggest Viking metal band on the planet. Having just finished touring latest album ‘Bezerker’ extensively across the US they now bring their epic tour to the shores of the U.K. to launch another Viking invasion. Along for the ride are Swedish death metal ensemble Hypocrisy and fellow Swedes Arch Enemy.
The former Bloodstock headliners have filled the O2 Academy in Birmingham tonight, a popular tour during a busy gig going period.
Kicking off proceedings with a brief yet brutal set are Hypocrisy. The death metal outfit can be melodic at times, however vocalist Peter Tägtgren screams his vocals in any way other than melodies. Despite the meloldic tendencies this band produce riff after riff of brutality in their short set. ‘Eraser’ standing out, its softly spoken intro leading to head banging affirmation from the fans by the end.
The gears are cranked up a few notches next as Arch Enemy take to the stage in waves of cheers. ‘The World Id Yours’, ‘War Eternal’ and ‘My Apocalypse’ are a blistering start to any set. Alissa White-Gluz a powerhouse of a front woman commands the stage, holding the audience in the palm of her hand as her band mates shred song after song. The forty five minute sets flies by, the band hold such a stage presence, there is an aurora about them and the atmosphere is electric as they close with ‘Dead Bury Their Dead’ and ‘Nemesis’.
The lights dim in the O2 Academy in Birmingham and Iron Maiden’s ‘Run To The Hills’ pumps out from the PA. The fans sing along with enthusiasm, fists pumping as they know what’s next. A huge drum riser is lit up in the dark, shaped like a horned Viking helmet and cheers rain down as Jocke Walgren takes up his spot on the stool.
‘Raven’s Flight’ kicks us into the set proper, the number taken from the bands aforementioned latest album. The band coined the genre Viking Metal, their sound – helped by Johan’s vocals – paint Viking imagery in your minds eye. ‘Raven’s Flight’ is the perfect way to draw the fan into the set before them.
We are lacking the trademark pyro tonight, the venue too small for their massive flame throwers to be safe, but smoke bombs during ‘Runes to My Memory’ submerge the band and create an eerie atmosphere.
The set is a career spanning sing along for the ardent fans, old songs and new sit alongside each other perfectly as Johan’s booming voice weaves it’s tale. Bounding riffs have heads nodding and drinking horns waved aloft throughout the spectacular set, which is rounded out by ‘The Pursuit of Vikings’ and ‘Twilight of the Thunder God’.
Amon Amarth have proven tonight that heavy metal is not just about those darkened Sabbath style riffs. The band change things up, with a theme to their stage set, their song writing and their performance. Ultimately they put on a magnificent show of what Viking metal really is and it’s enough to win over even the most ardent of non believers.