December 3, 2007
The Fillmore @ Irving Plaza
New York, NY
* Live review and photos by Shaq
In the past few years, Amon Amarth has been taking North America by storm. After two separate tours opening for Children of Bodom and releasing a DVD that went gold in both the United States and Canada, it was finally time for the vikings to headline their own tour. Unfortunately, the bands chosen to open for them were not really an ideal choice and were certainly not going to go over well with the Amon Amarth fan base. Originally, Decapitated was supposed to be in the direct support slot, but the recent bus accident that took the life of drummer Vitek forced them to drop off. Opening bands aside, this was a tour that many of us waited years to see, and finally the chance was upon us.
First up was Sonic Syndicate, who is a relatively new band being pushed heavily by Nuclear Blast, who released their latest album ONLY INHUMAN earlier this year. I briefly listened to this latest album in preparation for the show, and while I did not find it to be terrible, I also didnâ€™t think it was anything too special. Their style sounds like a mix of In Flames and Children of Bodom, along with a bit of a metal-core element as well. The Bodom influence largely comes through in their use of keyboards melodies, many of which sound like they are straight out of a Bodom song. This is fine, but there is one major problem here; there was no keyboardist! If you are prominently using keyboards in your music, you should have someone on stage playing the part. Furthermore, while there was a lack of a keyboardist, there were in fact two singers. Again, this is fine, but it was very rare that both would be singing at the same time and neither of them was really that great. While they were not horrible, I donâ€™t think they are doing anything too special, and definitely think this was absolutely the wrong tour for them to be on.
Next up was another band that was would have been better off on another tour. Himsa, hailing from Seattle, is well known for being one of the bigger metal-core bands. I really donâ€™t have a whole lot to say about these guys, aside from the fact that I didnâ€™t really enjoy them either. I have never heard their studio material, but their live show did nothing for me. To their credit, they had a lot of energy on stage, and upon coming out on stage the singer immediately jumped down onto the floor to greet the fans who were up front. Both of the openers should have been on a more fitting tour, but next up was the mighty Amon Amarth so I didnâ€™t have much to complain about.
Finally, it was time for the vikings to emerge and take over. After years of seeing them in opening slots that were limited to 30 minutes, I was quite eager to finally see them perform a true set. Opening the set was â€œValhall Awaits Me,â€ the opening track from their latest album WITH ODEN ON OUR SIDE. The place went absolutely nuts, which I was very happy to see. Iâ€™m not the best with estimating crowd numbers, but there were probably 6-700 or so in the crowd when Amon Amarth took the stage. As expected, a lot of the setlist focused largely on the latest album, but there were some old numbers thrown in for good measure with at least one song from every full release. One of the best songs of the night was without a doubt â€œAsator,â€ also from their latest album. By the end of the song I was certain I would have very little mobility in my neck the following day, but that was a small price to pay for such a phenomenal show.
Next up in the set was an oldie: â€œThe Sound of Eight Hoovesâ€ off of 2001â€™s â€œTHE CRUSHER.â€ After that, it was back to the new material once again for â€œHermodâ€™s Ride to Helâ€ and â€œCry of the Blackbirds.â€ It was very obvious, particularly when they began playing â€œCry of the Blackbirdsâ€ that they had gained a lot of new fans due to the new album. While there was still a good reaction to the old material, the crowd definitely knew the newer stuff much better. However, considering that WITH ODEN ON OUR SIDE is some of their best material to date, this is hardly a bad thing.
At this point in the show Johan raised his horn high in the air, dedicating the next song, â€œFate of Norns,â€ to Vitek and all of Decapitated. Next up, it was time to revisit the VERSUS THE WORLD album, where they busted out crushing versions of â€œThousand Years of Oppressionâ€ and â€œDown the Slopes of Death.â€ Closing out the main set were then the classic â€œBleed For Ancient Godsâ€ and then â€œRunes to My Memory.â€ The crowd erupted after Amon Amarth left the stage, making it very clear that the previous 13 songs were simply not enough, and they demanded more.
It can never be said that these vikings didnâ€™t know how to please a crowd, because before long they came back out on stage to the tune of their classic anthem â€œVictorious March.â€ According to the setlist, the next song was meant to be â€œLast With Pagan Blood,â€ but in its place they substituted in â€œAn Ancient Sign of a Coming Storm.â€ While I would have preferred what was on the setlist, I had no reason to complain. Finally, it was time for them to test just how good the crowd was as they began playing â€œPursuit of Vikings,â€ which has quickly become one of their definitive songs. When it came time for the chorus, the band cut out to allow the crowd to sing it a few times without help. Impressively, the rabid New York City crowd had no problem doing so, and calls to Odin bellowed throughout the venue.
All in all, the results were simple â€“ they came, they saw, and they conquered. Amon Amarth put forth one of the best live shows I have seen, which says a lot given my general distaste for death metal shows. Anyone foolish enough to miss this tour, even with itâ€™s out of place opening bands, truly missed out on one of this yearâ€™s finest metal events for North America.
Valhall Awaits Me
With Oden On Our Side
Death In Fire
Versus the World
The Sound of Eight Hooves
Hermodâ€™s Ride to Hel
Cry of the Black Birds
Fate of Norns
Thousand Years of Oppression
Down the Slopes of Death
Bleed For Ancient Gods
Runes To My Memory
An Ancient Sign of a Coming Storm
Pursuit of Vikings
I would like to thank Charles Elliott from Nuclear Blast of Nuclear Blast Records for the photo pass.