|» Amon Amarth 2013 12 07||
Without a doubt, one the best tour packages of 2013 in Sweden - if not the best - was the one offering Amon Amarth, Carcass and Hell. When the show reached Stockholm, Metal Covenant was of course present in order to report from this mighty metal feast. In addition to reviews of the bands' performances, you can also find interviews with a member from each band in, naturally, the interviews section.
After the ominous intro Gehennae Incendiis, English heavy metal revelation Hell kicks off tonight's festivities with Age Of Nefarious, and the spirited, catchy tune - first track off of latest album Curse And Chapter - is a fine opener, being followed by another up-tempo number, On Earth As It Is In Hell from debut album Human Remains.
Unfortunately, the sound is not ideal, as it is a bit indistinct and the snare drum is too dominant in the mix. Andy Sneap's guitar also stops working for a while. Continuing with the dynamic, menacing Blasphemy And The Master, Sneap and his colleague Kev Bower supply amazing guitar parts, and the sound is now improved. Having a mere 30 minutes at their disposal, just six songs are played, but the band deliver a well-balanced, effective set, with another new song, Something Wicked This Way Comes, most enjoyable as well.
One of the most praised 'new' bands on the metal scene with two brilliant albums released (though it is rather a return, having been active in the 80´s though not releasing a record), Hell have built a good following in Sweden which is evident from the support. But it's also apparent that most present are not too familiar with the Englishmen, yet giving them a generous welcome. Aside from the great music, the stage performance is a main component, and although it's not possible to use the full stage show this time, it is nevertheless entertaining to watch.
The band put on a dedicated, well-rehearsed show, and it's impossible
to take your eyes off vocalist David Bower, who delivers an great, theatrical
performance both when it comes to his stage demeanour and his singing.
The enthusiastic response that is given to Hell is quite rare for a support
act. Then again, this is no ordinary support act but one that delivers
pure quality onstage as well as on record, which will surely lead to a
higher places for the quintet. The conditions and playing time means that
this Hell performance is not as glorious as usual, but it is certainly
another convincing display and a terrific warm-up ahead of the next bands
on the bill.
Performance: 7 chalices
See also: interview with Kev Bower the same night
Despite the high appeal of the two other bands on this bill, it was Carcass that I was looking forward to the most, and it was surely the same for many others. The groundbreaking outfit last played in Sweden five years ago, at Sweden Rock, and although it was great to see Carcass live then, the gig suffered because of a very poor sound. When the intro piece 1985 is followed by the classic, awesome Buried Dreams, and then the annihilating Incarnated Solvent Abuse, the bar has been set. This is pure joy, and the excitement remains for the rest of the performance, which is witnessed by a large crowd that gives the group a loud response, and rightly so.
Today's incarnation of Carcass has a new look, of course. Recruited for the latest reformation and a tremendous comeback album, Surgical Steel, were guitarist Ben Ash and drummer Daniel Wilding. Ash displays great skills on his axe and puts in an energetic effort with his long locks flying around, while Wilding's contribution is probably even more apparent. The sound during Carcass' set is very good which accentuates the drummer's dazzling capacity, hard-hitting attack and brutal double bass work.
Meanwhile, it is a thrill to see two legends of the extreme metal scene onstage again: Jeff Walker and Bill Steer. Walker still has the same fierce vocal style and amusing banter, while Steer demonstrates his unique style and marvellous talent as a guitarist and really seems to be enjoying himself. The band is sounding awesome and tight and this line-up has clearly developed into a powerful unit.
The new songs prove their quality by fitting in seamlessly with the older material. This is obvious when a brilliant, crushing This Mortal Coil is preceded by Unfit For Human Consumption, released almost 20 years later but sounding equally great. We also get a slab of the more extreme 80's material which is still as punishing today.
As Heartwork, a true jewel in the history of melodic death metal, finishes
the show, we have witnessed a colossal display of a Carcass most definitely
still having what it takes. One really hopes that the band will return
to these shores next year, possibly for a festival gig. In the meantime,
this evening's Carcass set is a winner that earns loud applause and cheers
from the audience.
Performance: 9 chalices
When it is time for the headliners, masses of people have filled the venue, making it very crowded. Although this means the view from the back is not the best, it is proof of just how popular Amon Amarth have become, which is quite overwhelming. It starts with great impact, as two delicious tunes from the latest album, Father Of The Wolf and title track Deceiver Of The Gods, are followed by old fan favourite Death In Fire. From here onwards, there is no stopping the Swedish Vikings and their metal onslaught as one quality tune after the other is aired.
The Viking theme is highlighted during Runes To My Memory, where inscriptions on two rune stones at the front are lit, which is a cool effect. Besides a terrific light show, great backdrops and some smoke effects, there is not that much to mention in terms of the stage show, but that is never the main factor anyway at an Amon Amarth show. What you can always count on is a wholehearted effort complete with windmill headbanging, and that is the case again. That being said, one can sense just a bit extra excitement from the guys on this particular evening, playing in their home area. There are frequent smiles and eye contact with the crowd, and frontman Johan Hegg demonstrates his natural interaction with the audience, who repays the band with a thunderous response.
It was announced that there would be a couple of surprises at this home-coming gig. The inclusion of special appearances was a common and correct guess, and the first figure onstage is no big surprise: Entombed's L-G Petrov once again sharing the vocals with Hegg in Guardians Of Asgaard.
While it's always fun to see the charming Petrov in action, the next guest appearing onstage is the real treat: it's none other than legendary ex-Candlemass vocalist Messiah Marcolin who walks onstage to perform his vocal parts in the track Hel from Deceiver Of The Gods, making its live debut here. The man with the monk cape steals the limelight with his big charisma, and it is wonderful to hear his distinctive, impressive vocals again. He even gets Hegg to join him in some trademark doom-dancing, which is an absolutely first-class moment which has everyone in the room grinning. With the atmosphere high, this superb metal evening then ends in a fabulous fashion.
A tremendous version of Twilight Of The Thunder God, with Hegg swinging a giant Thor's hammer in the beginning, is supported by some very impressive singing from the crowd. The vocal support is strong during the concluding number too, The Pursuit Of Vikings, where Hegg conducts a great singalong mid-song. "It does not matter if you don't know the lyrics; it's death metal and no one will notice a difference, so sing whatever" quips the vocalist. This is indeed a very strong headline show by Amon Amarth, and chances are they might be playing to an even bigger crowd next time around.
Performance: 8 chalices