Amon Amarth North American Tour 2016
Supported by; Entombed AD
San Francisco, Warfield Theater
Written By: Walter Morgan
Photos by: Chris Kentzell
Johan Hegg − vocals (1992–present)
Olavi Mikkonen − guitar (1992–present)
Ted Lundström − bass (1992–present)
Johan Söderberg − guitar (1998–present)
Jocke Wallgren − drums (2016–present)
Amon Amarth kings of Swedish Viking Melodic Death Metal, are in San Francisco, on a blistering North American Tour which has 35 dates. This is the night before their last show of this very successful tour. This crowd is no ordinary metal crowd, I see a very distinctive audience, some dressed like vikings themselves. I counted no less than 9 double horned helmeted fans, and a few big horns of beer in their hands as they drank them down and raised them up, a viking tradition. And some of you may ask what exactly is Swedish Melodic Viking Death Metal?
In metal music in the present day, there are a lot of sub genres, Melodic Death Metal, is a formula taken from parts of other styles of metal music, it takes Death Metal and combines it with melody and harmonic elements, and is influenced by other types of music from the recent past, in it you will find Thrash Metal, Black Metal, Speed Metal, British Metal, and some Power Metal, among others. There is fast double bass drumming, with some blast beats, and some slower solid beats as well. Add to it the guitar tones and distortion, that are very groove oriented, that flow, and build, get fast and melodically epic. The singing style of Death Metal, which can be harsh screaming, and growly patterned “barking”, with a powerful frontman who can do both equally as well is very important. Melodic Death Metal was created in Sweden in the 90’s. Amon Amarth lyrics mostly deal with the vikings, their mythology and their history, which puts another twist on this genre, and you there have Swedish Melodic Viking Death Metal, which has been very successful over the years, and is still getting bigger. Amon Amarth has just released its 10th studio album, and its very first concept album, “Jomsviking”, an epic album, that vocalist Johan Hegg describes for us; “The Jomsvikings were a shadowy and legendary sect of viking mercenaries, as shrouded in myth now as they were when they fought across Europe and the Middle East. “Ruthless and deadly warriors who fought for the highest bidder, their code was simple: show no fear, never retreat, defend your brothers, and when called upon, avenge their deaths. I felt we were finally ready to use their story as the jumping off point for an Amon Amarth album.
The Jomsvikings and their world is the background for the story of a young man that is in love with a girl but unfortunately she’s being married off. He accidentally kills a man when this happens and he has to flee – but he swears to have revenge and win her back. He can’t let go of the past. He feels that he’s been wronged and his life has been destroyed. The way the story evolves is not a happy story.”
I had a chance to see the stage set up before they went on. They used a gigantic viking doubled horned helmet, in the center stage, on the top crown of the helmet there was the a monstrous drum set, under this a warrior’s mask with two big glowing red eyes, a white stone staircase coming down both sides that connected behind the drum set creating a huge walkway, with platforms halfway up each staircase. A really huge production, that showcases the band and their success.
The Norse Warrior’s take the stage and play an epic performance of 19 songs. The twin axe guitar team of Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Söderberg are both extremely talented and play very tasty leads, that are never too fast, but just right for their melodic groove oriented rhythms. The breaks and changes in the songs that lead to epic build ups, sometimes almost poppy, at other times more power metal, but are always heavy.
The new drummer Jocke Wallgren, is steady and thunderous, with quick feet, and Ted Lundström is a solid bass player. Standing tall among them is their singer Johan Hegg, a bearded viking warrior frontman, with both forearms covered by leather bands, and a large beer horn on his belt. He growls death vocals, with lots of fist pumping, that invokes the audience, and I was surprised at how many fans knew the lyrics and sang with him. They play a powerful set, songs about war, blood, violence, outlaws, and quests, with viking themes and mythology, and folklore. Combined with the music, it creates a war like atmosphere, that goes along perfectly for a metal crowd, and their following is very strong. He tells us that this is almost the end of the tour, that they love San Francisco, and the crowd cheers! And tomorrow we play Los Angeles, and the crowd boo’s very loud at our rival enemies. And Johan refers to us as “fellow vikings” and that they come from the “end of the world, Sweden”, and reminds us that this is San Francisco, and that we are supposed to be the meanest, wildest, mother F**kers in North America. They launch into their last song before the encore, which is “Victorious March” one of my favorites. After 16 songs, most bands will pack it up and go home. But these nordic warriors come out and give us 3 more anthems, and the band members come up front stage with their drinking horns; they yell “Skal” and toast to us with beer guzzling; this leads them into “Raise Your Horns” which seems very appropriate for tonight’s great performance! The next encore song is “Guardians of Asgard”, Johan announces a guest vocalist that sang on the record; Entombed AD’s lead singer Lars-Göran Petrov, and they trade vocal parts, to the crowds great delight. To end the night is 2008’s album’s title track “Twilight of the Thunder God”. We surely have been blessed by the Gods tonight. It’s not often we get real vikings invading our city!
Video’s From Jomsviking
At Dawn’s First Light
The Pursuit of Vikings
As Loke Falls
The Way of Vikings
At Dawn’s First Light
Deceiver of the Gods
Cry of the Black Birds
One Against All
Thousand Years of Oppression
Destroyer of the Universe
Death in Fire
Runes to My Memory
One Thousand Burning Arrows
Father of the Wolf
War of the Gods
Raise Your Horns
Guardians of Asgaard
Twilight of the Thunder God
Supporting Amon Amarth, also from Sweden are Entombed AD( Formed in 2014), the newer version of the older act Entombed. The pairing with Amon Amarth is a very good one, Entombed AD built mostly around Death Metal, but are more like cousins to Amon Amarth, different in style, but similar in certain ways. Entombed AD are Death N’ Roll, which is a subgenre of Death Metal that meets Hard Rock N’ Roll, with the trademark death vocals of growling and screaming, combined with fast and brutal guitars. They have many influences like Thrash Metal, Black Metal, etc. After watching their energetic set, these guys play fast and brutal, have a good rhythm groove, always powerful and aggressive. Most bands don’t want to play after these Swedes. Their music features some nice changes that meld into very heavy guitar based songs, and to me sound very raw live. They have a killer twin “V” guitar attack team, their Singer LG Petrov, has deep guttural growling sounds, with a raspy feel, who consumes beer, and guzzles a bottle often between songs, and even gives a big burp or two. These guys get right into what they do, a more grittier band, that plays fast, guitars blazing, and overwhelming powerful death vocals. They have a new album called “Dead Dawn” which is a perfect title for them. I’ve seen the older version of Entombed a few times, this newer version is pretty fresh, and they have evolved very well. A strong support slot, for a very good band.
Second to None
The Winner Has Lost
Revel in Flesh
Left Hand Path
Preview YouTube video ENTOMBED A.D. – The Winner Has Lost (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
Edit by: Leah Storkson