Games Meet Metal: An Evening With Amon Amarth: Another Disturbying Concert Review

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

An Evening With Amon Amarth: Another Disturbying Concert Review

Last night I saw Amon Amarth at the Garrick Centre here in Winnipeg. This is my second concert of the year (first being A Perfect Circle) and one I've been looking forward to seeing since the announcement. For whatever reason, I've missed out on previous Amon Amarth shows, so for me this was a long time coming. Thankfully the first Amon Amarth show I see is An Evening of Amon Amarth (even if it was at the Garrick Slanty-Floor-of-Doom Centre). Unfortunately I wasn't able to grow out a suitable beard for the event despite having time to do it. Oh well, next time I will sport a beard that will put Johan Hegg's to shame. Enough talk of beard! Let us talk of metal!!

So for those that are unaware, most "Evening With" tours indicate that the headlining act will be the only act that you will see. No openers. Just Amon Amarth for 3 hours. They split the show into two sets with a break in between. The first set is their latest album, Surtur Rising played in full and the second set is a mix of crowd favourites from their previous albums. The doors to the show opened at 7pm and everyone piled in to wait for their favourite vikings to unleash a fury of metal upon them.

Amon Amarth took the stage at 8pm. A giant back drop of the album art for Surtur Rising was pretty much all they had to visually entertain the audience. Sure, there were a couple of smoke machines and a few fancy spot lights, but that was it. It seems a shame that there's no pyro for a band like this. I don't know it that was a band choice or if it's because the venues on this tour are smaller than expected. A song like Death in Fire is pretty much the perfect song for it. It's not a big deal to me and I don't think anyone else cared but I've seen stage shows put on by bands that have been better than the music being played behind it which has made me start noticing what a band brings to the table in terms of lighting and such. And hell, I was too busy headbanging with the other thousand metal heads to give a shit at the time anyway.

In addition to my beard growing shame, I also missed the opportunity to listen to Surtur Rising. But, as one of my friends pointed out, what better way to hear an album for the first time than listening to the band play it live in front of you? I gotta say, the new record is excellent. For an Amon Amarth album, there's nothing really new going on here. It's death metal and it's about vikings. But that's what we love about the band, so as long as they keep doing what they're doing I'll be a happy metal head. Stand out songs in the first set were Destroyer of the Universe, Live Without Regrets, For Victory or Death and the rabid, A Beast Am I. They closed the hour long set with Doom over Dead Men and headed off for a break. Heard a couple fans grumbling that they didn't play their cover of Accept's Balls to the Wall which is a bonus track on some editions of Surtur Rising. I agree that it would have been a great way to end the set but It would take away from the whole viking thing they've got going on.

Thirty minutes later the vikings were back at it with the title track to Twilight of the Thunder God. Great Oden's Beard that song is amazing live! I was right up front for the entire show and it seemed the audience responded better to the second set than the first. It could just be that the majority of the fans were as unfamiliar with the new album as I was. I know that I was anxiously waiting for the band to play a few of my favourites so the first set of new stuff just seemed to make me anticipate the second set of "hits" even more. Hearing For the Stabwounds In Our Backs, Guardians of Asgaard, The Sound of Eight Hooves, Free Will Sacrifice and Death in Fire for the first time was a pretty great moment for my concert life. They closed the set with Victorious March and came out and performed an encore.

I couldn't believe that they had some gas left in the tank for a few more songs, but they did. Johan Hegg's voice must be blessed by Oden himself, because that dude sounded exactly the same at the beginning of the night to the very last note! The encore set consisted of Cry of the Black Birds, Valhall Awaits Me, and (of course) The Pursuit of Vikings! For The Pursuit of Vikings, Johan lead a sing-a-long and confessed that with death metal you can sing along even if you don't know the lyrics. Well, we sure showed him what our Winnipeg vocal chords were made of and shouted the hell out of the chorus. I know we proved to him once again that Winnipeg has the best metal fans in Canada!

It was a long night of death metal and I fed off the energy of the crowd around me and banged my head for the entire show. As I write this my ears are ringing and my neck is hurting beyond belief. Signs that it was a damn good metal show, definitely one of the best shows I've been to. They've got another 17 dates left on this tour so you have no reason to miss this event. Here are the rest of the dates for the tour:

Aug 12 - Toronto, Canada
Aug 13 - Montreal, Canada
Aug 14 - Quebec City, Canada
Aug 16 - Pittsburgh, PA
Aug 17 - Detroit, MI
Aug 19 - Baltimore, MD
Aug 20 - Sayreville, NJ
Aug 21 - Rochester, NY
Aug 23 - Louisville, KY
Aug 24 - Milwaukee, WI
Aug 26 - Houston, TX
Aug 27 - Dallas, TX
Aug 29 - Albuquerque, NM
Aug 31 - Anaheim, CA
Sep 01 - Las Vegas, NV
Sep 02 - Salt Lake City, UT
Sep 03 - Boise, ID

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